World In Paris
Food & Wine

Traditional French Breakfast


2021 France Travel Update


This article may contain compensated links. Please read disclaimer for more info.

Typical Breakfast in France

In Paris, there’s no better way to start your day than with a delicious French breakfast. Petit déjeuner is the word to say breakfast in French, which literally means ‘little lunch’ since déjeuner is the French word used for lunch.

A typical French breakfast is not a big sit-down meal, and it’s definitely simpler and lighter than in other countries since it does not include things like scrambled eggs, beans, omelets, or sausages. This is because the French like to eat a heartier meal for lunch.

So what do we eat for breakfast in France? Here are some of the most common French breakfast foods:

French Breakfast

Read more about food in Paris

Typical French Breakfast Foods

1.Bread

French Baguette

Bread is a must of any traditional French breakfast, and it is usually a warm and crusty baguette. French people buy their baguettes in their favorite boulangerie (bakery), even if it is possible to find baguettes in some supermarkets too.

In a boulangerie, you have normal baguettes and ‘baguettes tradition’. The second is smaller but of better quality, baked on the spot without additives. They are a bit more expensive too.

2.Jam, Butter

When we have good bread, we like to eat with something good on it. The most common options are jam, ideally homemade. Some people like it with butter too, which needs to be of good quality.  The result we call it tartine (a piece of bread with jam or butter on it), and we have a verb for it too: tartiner (to spread something good on the bread).

It is possible to combine jam and butter: first spread the butter on the bread, and then top it with your favorite jam.

3.Hot Drink

Cafe and Croissant

Breakfast in France needs a cup of hot coffee, which helps to wake up and switch on all the neurons in the brain. It is possible to take coffee with or without sugar and with or without milk.

Of course, tea is also possible, but unlike in the UK, French people prefer to drink it without anything in it. Therefore, don’t expect milk or lemon when you order tea in France.

4.Fresh Juice

Next to the bread, a traditional French breakfast usually includes a glass of fresh juice, a source of vitamins that also helps to wash everything down.

Ideally, it’s a fresh-squeezed juice, usually orange juice, but sadly this is not guaranteed in a hotel. You can also find pineapple juice, peach juice, or grapefruit juice.

5.Viennoiserie

Pain au chocolat
pain au chocolat

On Instagram, it is not unusual to see pictures of a typical French breakfast with different pastries, what we call ‘viennoiseries.’ Can you imagine us eating a croissant or a pain au chocolat every day? We would definitely be that slim!

In France, most people will grab a fresh croissant here and there, and eventually, they will add it to the breakfast on Sunday or a special day, but it’s certainly not a daily occurrence, despite what you see on Instagram.

However, you are on holiday in Paris so don’t hesitate to spoil yourself: one or two croissants in a week won’t hurt! The most common viennoiseries to be found in a breakfast in France are croissant, pain au chocolat or brioche.

French Breakfast in Hotels

The typical breakfast in France is often called ‘continental breakfast’ in hotels. Sometimes, it is presented as a buffet with self-service.

The variety of the buffet usually depends on the hotel standard. Apart from the French breakfast foods mentioned above, you may also find yogurt and /or a piece of fruit, honey, cereals and milk, and even eggs.

Many hotels in Paris offer breakfast as an option, and it usually costs between 12-18 euros. You can book your hotel room without breakfast and decide about it later when you do the check-in.

French Breakfast Food in Cafés

Cafés and brasseries in France open early in the morning, and they also offer breakfasts. The most common breakfast in a café is a coffee and croissant (café et croissant) or another viennoiserie. You can eat your breakfast in the comptoir (the café’s counter), and it is usually cheaper than in the room or the terrace if they have one.

Some places also propose set breakfast menus with a hot drink, orange juice, and a viennoiserie of your choice.

More original and quiet but also more expensive, there are also cake shops or tea houses where you can find really great breakfasts, all house-made.

Breakfast in French Homes

If you decided to rent a furnished apartment in Paris, do like the French and buy the different French breakfast foods at the supermarket once a week, and then bread and pastries day by day at the boulangerie.  

Read more about food and drinks in Paris

Back to Homepage


Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, meaning we get a small commission if you make a purchase through our links. It costs you nothing more (in fact, if anything, you’ll get a nice discount) but helps us to go on creating incredible Paris content for you. We trust all products promoted here and would never recommend a product that isn’t of value.
World in Paris is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases at no expense to you.