17 Classic French Breakfast Foods

A typical breakfast in France is sweet and light.

17 Classic French Breakfast Foods

For French people, lunch is the most important meal of the day so they usually have something light and simple to start them off.

Here are 17 of the most popular breakfast foods in France, try some of them out to make you feel like you’re lost in the streets of Paris. 

1. Pain Au Chocolat

Arguably one of the most famous foods associated with France is the pain au chocolat. This viennoiserie sweet pastry consists of layer upon layer of flaky pastry.

Filled with chocolate and baked until golden brown on the outside, these sweet pastries are widely popular around the world. 

A French breakfast usually consists of a type of pastry and a cup of coffee. Pain au chocolat is typically served by itself, the rich chocolate filling is enough to not need much else. 

2. Chocolat Chaud

Chocolat Chaud is French for hot chocolate, which is usually served at breakfast time. Parisian hot chocolate for example is luxurious, thick, smooth, and oh so creamy.

We may think of it as a strictly winter drink, the French can be found to drink it year-round. The hot chocolate itself contains milk, a touch of sugar, and high-quality chocolate.

3. Croissants

Although similar to their chocolate counterparts in the fact they are made of layers of flaky pastry they differ in shape and taste. Croissants are longer and crescent-shaped, served in a variety of different flavors.

The plain croissant is typically served with butter and jam, but you can also find almond-flaked croissants, chocolate-filled, or ones filled with raisins.    

4. Pain Perdu

Pain perdu or French toast as many of us call it is bread soaked in an egg mixture which is then pan-fried. The egg mixture usually contains egg, sugar, and milk but you can add pretty much anything you feel like.

There are many sweet and savory recipes for you to try. 

Another great ingredient to add is cinnamon or perhaps a little nutmeg. Coating the bread in the egg mixture caramelizes the bread when cooked for a sweet and crispy treat.

French toast is usually served with some butter, extra sugar, and maple syrup.

5. Croque Madame

A Croque madame is a French toasted ham and cheese sandwich served with a poached or fried egg on top.

This sandwich differs from your usually toasted sandwich as the cheese used is usually melted Gruyére, which is a strong and pungent French cheese.

If you’re not a fan of smelly cheese you can swap this for a milder Comté instead. 

6. Buckwheat Crepes

Buckwheat is a type of grain or cereal naturally, it’s gluten-free and can be likened to quinoa. The nutty flavors of buckwheat come through when using them as the base ingredient of your crepes. 

The great thing about crepes is that you can have them with sweet or savory accompaniments such as this traditional recipe usually found in Northern France, which is made with spinach, eggs, and cheese.

If you don’t fancy savory fillings, sticking to some lemon and sugar or fruit is ideal for a sweet and tasty breakfast. 

7. Beignets

Beignets are deep-fried pastries typically made from a French yeast dough, although they can be made with a variety of other doughs. These small bite-sized treats are crispy, chewy, and fantastic when served warm.

They are usually topped with powdered sugar and served alongside a hot drink such as café au lait. 

8. Tartine

Tartine refers to a typical French breakfast combination of a slice of bread such as a baguette with latherings of butter and preserves.

This is one of the most common combinations eaten for breakfast by the French as it’s light, sweet, and fruity. Moving towards lunchtime these sweet toppings become savory such as the examples here. 

9. Yogurt And Fruit 

A simple combination of yogurt and fruit is sometimes all we need. Plain French-style yogurt topped with fruit, a drizzle of honey, and a handful of almonds make for a sweet and healthy breakfast. 

A parfait is a great example of this, with layers of fresh fruit, yogurt, and crunchy granola for a delicious breakfast or snack.

This breakfast can easily be adapted to suit any taste and can be eaten year-round with a range of seasonal fruits. 

10. Omelet

Eggs are another popular breakfast ingredient in France. A classic French omelet is a simple, yet somewhat difficult recipe to master.

To make this classic dish all you’ll need is eggs, butter, salt, and fresh herbs. 

The secret to making a great omelet is making sure you use a non-stick pan (that works) and whisking the eggs very thoroughly.

A classic French omelet can be eaten by itself or served with a range of condiments, this is usually up to personal preference. 

11. Croque Monsieur

A Croque monsieur is a French ham and cheese toasted sandwich containing Gruyére, Parmesan cheese, and a simple béchamel sauce to get a delicious caramelized coating on the bread.

Making a béchamel sauce is simple and easy to do with a little butter, flour, and milk. Alternatively, you can buy a shop-bought version if you don’t have time. 

When it comes to making a great Croque monsieur, quality ingredients are really important. Sourcing delicious cheese and wafer-thin ham will level up your Croque monsieur game. 

12. Café Au Lait

Café au lait translates to ‘coffee with milk’ and is considered a French staple. Much like the rest of the world, France loves to drink coffee.

However, a café au lait isn’t just a coffee with milk, the milk is steamed and tops the coffee with froth and foam for an extra warming caffeine injection. 

13. French Breakfast Puffs

No, they aren’t a type of cereal. French breakfast buffs are actually vanilla muffins which are covered in melted butter and dipped in cinnamon sugar to create a sweet and crunchy coating. 

They are small muffins that can typically be eaten within a few bites. Many French people dip their muffins in their coffee or hot chocolate. 

Although they aren’t traditionally French, these popular sweet treats are loved everywhere. 

14. French Style Scrambled Eggs

Using a slow and low process to cook your eggs produce an almost velvety texture that melts in your mouth.

There are many different variations to this dish, as with any cook that’s making scrambled eggs. 

Here, the eggs are cooked for about 20 minutes to become super creamy. Fresh and aromatic herbs such as chives and thyme are added to the finished product.

To have an authentic French experience, serve the eggs on toasted brioche bread for a little sweetness. 

15. Brioche

Brioche bread is light and buttery French bread made with a high egg and butter content. Sweeter than usual bread, brioche can be eaten for breakfast with a simple spread of butter or jam.

It is also common for the French to use brioche bread to make French toast! There are many ways you can adapt this food for a typical French breakfast.  

16. Fresh Fruit

Fresh fruit is certainly a healthier alternative to the rich and sugary offerings we’ve mentioned here. The fruits that are popular in France are no different from what you would find in any other Western country.

Those considered to be some of the most popular include kiwi fruit, strawberries, apples, pears, clementines, and prunes. 

Eating a bowl of fruit for breakfast can certainly be a nice refreshing start to the morning during the warmer months. Adding some honey and lemon zest to a fruit salad is a common occurrence in French cuisine. 

17. Selection Of Jams

Preserves such as jams are hugely popular in France, they are eaten with a variety of different foods such as muffins, bread, croissants, and even French toast

Some of us only think of strawberry jam when we think about what to have with our lovely warm croissant yet the French are a lot more versatile when it comes to jam.

Popular flavors of jam in France include apricot, fig, strawberry, and chestnut jam. 

Closing Thoughts 

It’s evident that the French adore a sweet treat in the morning. Many of their go-to breakfast foods are small and tasty, but enough to keep you going until lunch.

We hope you found this article interesting and it has given you some fresh new inspiration on how to make the perfect French breakfast, whether that be sweet or savory. 

Happy eating!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is A Typical Breakfast In France?

Typically, the French enjoy a light and sweet breakfast. Keeping it simple, it usually consists of cereal, a tartine, and a hot drink or glass of fruit juice.

Many French people enjoy a sweet breakfast over a savory one, which is evident in their preference for jams, hot chocolate, and sweet pastries. 

What Is A French Breakfast Pastry?

Brasillé is a traditional French pastry, similar to croissants and pain au chocolat; they are light, buttery, and flaky. Cooked until golden on top and served with butter this is a simple breakfast pastry.

17 Classic French Breakfast Foods

17 Classic French Breakfast Foods

Recipe by Jenna

French breakfasts are known for being simple, yet delicious. Learn about 17 classic French breakfast foods, including croissants, pain au chocolat, and more.

Course: Breakfast
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