Typical French Breakfast + Vocabulary List

If you are considering traveling to France, you may wonder what do French people eat for breakfast?

Bonjour! My name is Anthony Rosemond and I’m a trained French chef from Le Cordon Bleu Paris and founder of Pastreez, a California-based bakery where you can buy macarons online. Making French desserts is my daily routine!

The typical French breakfast consists of a variety of different dishes. It varies from region to region within France. However, you can find certain dishes common to French breakfasts across the country. In this blog post, we will be looking at some of the most popular French breakfasts foods and common breakfast drinks in France.

Typical French breakfast foods

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Brioche

Brioche is a popular French breakfast, which is made from eggs, flour, butter, and yeast. A loaf is formed from the dough, then baked until golden brown.

Sweet or savory brioche are both popular. Sweet brioche can contain jam, honey, or chocolate, while savory brioche includes meat or vegetables.

French people love brioches for breakfast since they can easily customize them. You can make it in the morning if you want to start your day with something delicious.

Beignets

These French pastries are made from a batter that resembles doughnuts. A layer of sugar is sprinkled on top of the fried beignets.

They are popular among the locals as desserts or quick snacks, but they are also good for breakfast.

Pain perdu (French toast)

French toast made with bread dipped in eggs and milk is one of the most popular breakfast dishes in France.

Pain Perdu can be transalted as “lost bread”. Packed with butter, honey, or syrup, French toast can be savored with any of these ingredients.

Tartine (baguette with jam and butter)

It is a French breakfast dish consisting of toast and jam, usually a baguette. A baguette is a long, thin French bread.

It is toasted and then spread with honey or jam. In addition to jam, it is delicious with things like Nutella, honey, or cheese. There is nothing simpler than a tartine for breakfast in France.

Croissant

As there is so much variety in the bakery, it might be difficult to decide what to have, so if you need a quick suggestion, a typical croissant is a great way to start your French journey.

French croissants have the perfect combination of sweetness, puffiness, crunchiness, and softness, making you crave another one once you finish the first. For the perfect croissant, look for the croissant au beurre (a croissant with butter).

Pain au chocolat

French-style chocolate croissant pastry is made by rolling out croissant dough, cutting it into rectangles, and folding it. The pastry is stuffed with chocolate and then covered with whipped cream.

French breakfast puff

French breakfast puffs are like muffins, and they are one of the most popular breakfast items in France. They are covered with sugar and cinnamon, making it a sinful breakfast.

Moreover, if you are a muffin fan and have a sweet tooth, you will enjoy this dish.

Yogurt and Fruit

A common breakfast choice in France is french fruit salad, typically containing grapes, apples, pears, oranges, and strawberries.

French people typically start their day with yogurt and fruit. Yogurt is eaten plain or mixed with different flavors of jam, syrup or honey.

Crêpes

Crêpes are not the everyday breakfast for French. It’s more a weekend thing that you can make with your family at home. But still.

This pastry is one of the most famous French desserts outside of France, such as macarons. These are so popular outside of France!

When I arrived in the US in 2017, people were always asking me, where could I find authentic macarons near me? Same for crêpes. That’s why I founded Pastreez.

French Radishes with Butter and Salt on Toast

The french radishes, a type of radish that originates from France, are served with butter and salt on toast. The French radishes are small and have a red skin and white flesh.

A simple, but delicious French breakfast dish is toast spread with butter and topped with French radishes.

French radishes are normally eaten raw, but they can also be cooked. French radishes and salt are then sprinkled on top of the toast.

Croque Monsieur

Croque Monsieur is made with two grilled toasts and butter, with ham and cheese in the middle. Very popular a few decades ago, it’s still used as a fast brunch solution nowadays.

Croque Madame

A twist of the Croque Monsieur.

French Croque Madame is a dish with two slices of bread slathered with traditional ham and cheese combination.

The slices of bread are grilled or toasted after the cheese and ham are sandwiched together. The Croque Madame is a variation of the Croque Monsieur, and it usually has a poached or fried egg on top.

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Oeufs cocotte

Oeufs cocotte refers to both the method of baking individual eggs and the small, round baking vessels with handles that can be used to hold the eggs during baking. Eggs in pots are an easy and elegant way to serve eggs for breakfast.

Cooking the eggs in the oven in a hot water bath until, ideally, the whites are set and the yolks are still runny requires placing the eggs in greased pots, ramekins, or cocottes, with flavorings above or below. Bacon, fresh herbs, cheese, pesto, and cream are some typical toppings.

Oeufs Cocottes make an impressive appetizer – they are visually impressive, will not disappoint, and are highly customizable according to your preference.

Omelet (“omelette” in French)

French breakfasts are popularly centered around eggs, but omelets are another favorite. You only need eggs, milk, butter, and salt to make these delicious breakfast dishes.

Compared to other countries, omelets here are pretty special. It’s a versatile dish, however, and it can be filled with various ingredients like cheese, ham, or vegetables.

Pain aux raisins

Basically a spiral pastry with raisins and crème pâtissière, pain aux raisins is similar to escargot.

This sweet treat is typically served with coffee or tea in the morning; however, it can also be enjoyed throughout the day when served with café latte or black coffee. After being filled with raisins, this sweet treat is baked until its edges turn golden brown.

Chouquettes

A delightfully light and tender pâte à choux pastry puff studded with sugar crystals, chouquettes are baked with a stunningly tender and delicious sugar crystals known as sucre perlé.

Chouquettes are basically profiteroles without chocolate, and they fall into the category of viennoiseries or, more specifically, pâtisseries viennoises.

Viennese-style baked goods are traditional breakfast foods and afternoon snacks sold in bakery shops throughout the country.

Common Breakfast Drinks In France

Coffee and Tea

Nothing surprising here. Any French breakfast would be incomplete without a cup of coffee (un café) or tea (un thé). Both coffee and tea are served with milk and sugar on the side at cafés in France. If you order coffee in a café, a small slice of cake or pastries will likely accompany it.

French Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate (le chocolat) is a common breakfast beverage in France. It is made with French chocolate, milk, and sugar, usually served with croissants or beignets.

Something you need to know: The French love to dip everything in their hot chocolate! Almost every dessert mentioned here can serve this purpose.

The idea is to have your croissant (or viennoiserie) slightly wet with hot chocolate. This way you get the perfect contrast between a crusty viennoiserie and the milk.

Orange or grapefruit juice

Besides the bread, you also need a cold drink to enhance the flavor in your mouth. Fruit juice (le jus de fruit) is often part of the French breakfast as well.

There are two popular options in French breakfast: those who drink orange juice (le jus d’orange), and those who drink grapefruit juice (le jus de pamplemousse). Several other juices are also enjoyed by French people in the morning, including apple juice (le jus de pomme), and multifruit juices.

It’s best to drink freshly squeezed juice, but unfortunately, many people do not have a press or the time to squeeze the fresh fruits themselves in the morning, so they drink industrially produced juice instead. You can find real fresh juices in many restaurants and cafes if you ask for them!

French breakfast vocabulary

The following is a complete list of all the French breakfast vocabulary words you will need to know for a trip to France!

  • What time/where is breakfast served? À quelle heure/où est-ce que le petit déjeuner est servi?
  • I’d like to have my breakfast. Je voudrais prendre mon petit déjeuner.
  • This morning I’ll have… Ce matin, je prendrai…
  • cereal des céréales
  • An American-style breakfast un petit déjeuner américain
  • bacon and eggs des oeufs au bacon
  • a soft/hard boiled egg un oeuf dur à la coque mollet/dur
  • fried eggs/scrambled eggs des oeufs au plat/brouillés
  • ham and eggs des oeufs au jambon
  • French toast du pain perdu/doré (Canada)
  • waffles des gaufres
  • pancakes/crepes des pancakes/des crêpes
  • maple syrup sirop d’érable
  • oatmeal des flocons/gruau d’avoine
  • toast du pain grillé
  • jam de la confiture
  • marmalade de la marmelade
  • butter du beurre
  • As a drink I’ll have… Comme boisson, je prendrai…
  • a fruit juice, apple juice, orange juice, grapefruit juice un jus de fruits/pomme/orange/pamplemousse
  • a coffee un café
  • a coffee with milk un café au lait
  • a decaf coffee un café décaféiné
  • tea with milk/lemon du thé au lait/citron
  • honey du miel
  • hot/cold milk du lait chaud/froid
  • rolls des petit pains
  • yogurt du yaourt

Breakfast in France – conclusion

All things considered, among the most popular French breakfasts are eggs, pastries, yogurt, and breads. As you can see, there is no single French breakfast dish.

However, you’ll generally find French people eating pastries, breads, eggs, and yogurt for breakfast across the country. From croissants to pain au chocolat to omelets and crêpes, you will have plenty of energy before heading out to discover what France has to offer.

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Anthony Rosemond
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