The Ultimate Guide to a Typical French Breakfast

You’ve just arrived in Paris and what better way to celebrate than with a typical French breakfast? From the cafés at Galeries Lafayette where the aroma of freshly ground coffee greets you, to the delicious selection of pastries at an authentic French boulangerie, this is the perfect way to start your day.

French breakfasts tend to be light and simple compared to other cultures, but this doesn´t mean they’re any less delicious. And as with any French dining occasion, it’s not just a meal to satisfy hunger but also an opportunity to eat delicious food and enjoy good company.

The French take food very seriously – even breakfast (le petit déjeuner – small lunch) should be savored at a leisurely pace. France is renowned for its cuisine and delicious flavors. The process of eating a meal together, even if it’s a quick breakfast of toast; encourages conversation and the chance to eat with family or friends. 

France is famous for its café culture, with outdoor terraces bustling with people sipping coffee and engaging in lively conversation. These serve as social hubs where people gather to relax, socialize, and people-watch while enjoying the first meal of the day.

French breakfast offers an opportunity to prepare for the day and involves certain rituals. For instance, dunking (tremper) brioche (a sweet bread) or pastries into a bowl of coffee or chocolate is common, along with drinking the beverage from the bowl.

When in France… do as the French do and plan your schedule seeing the sights of Paris over a relaxing typical French breakfast while seated in Café Coutume, the Galeries Lafayette popular French coffee shop. Freshly roasted coffee beans and a tempting selection of French pastries await you. If you prefer to eat on the go visit Le Gourmet on the ground floor where you’ll find a delicious choice of pastries by famous chefs, including Philippe Conticini and Yann Couvreur. If you have a sweet tooth you’ll love Philippe’s giant croissant.

A great place to inspire your schedule is the Rooftop Terrace of Galeries Lafayette, with its stunning views of the landmarks of Paris.

The tradition of French breakfast (literally breaking fast) comes from the elite, when during the Renaissance they enjoyed dunking buttered bread in milk. With the appearance of popular drinks such as coffee and hot chocolate, the French bourgeois began the custom of eating pastries at breakfast.

Then, during the Industrial Revolution, when people worked long hours, they found eating a snack such as eggs or a sugar pastry before starting work kept their hunger at bay. Before this the French usually only ate two meals a day – the popular and lengthy French lunch and an evening meal. 

Today, a typical French breakfast is healthy, and includes fresh fruit juice, eggs, toast, or a delicious smoothie, which you’ll find at DS Café in the Wellness Galerie.

A typical French breakfast is sweet, and usually consists of pastries, toast, jam and coffee, orange juice, or hot chocolate, all of which you’ll find in our selection of eateries. If you see Continental Breakfast on the menu, this is what it’s  likely to include.

There’s nothing more satisfying than a mouthwatering, warm French pastry to tempt your taste buds in the morning. Even better when it’s served at Lafayette Café where you can marvel at the spectacular stained glass dome (la Coupole) while you plan where to shop for your favorite designer brands before stopping for lunch. 

 Croissants: The Buttered Icon

Why are croissants so popular? With their crunchy texture on the outside and soft, melt-in-the-mouth doughy interior you can complement a croissant with either sweet or savory additions. Eat on its own, warm or cold, with butter and jam, cheese, chocolate spread… or dip in your coffee like a true French person.

Pain au Chocolat: A Chocolate Lover’s Delight

There’s nothing quite like a genuine pain au chocolat made in France. Croissant dough encases a delectable chocolate filling and is baked to perfection.


Good to know  📝

You’re sure to want to try and make these your favorite French desserts when you’re back home so why not book a place on the Baker’s Secrets course at Galeries Lafayette and learn how to cook like a French chef?

From fruit tarts to chocolate delights – the recipes change regularly – check out the link to discover the latest gourmet delights you can learn to bake. 

A fresh French baguette spread with butter or jam (also known as a tartine) is an alternative to the croissant and a little less sweet. Of course, chocolate spread is compulsory if you have a sweet tooth! Visit Le Gourmet for a selection of jam, honey and chocolate gifts to take home with you.

Warm, crusty bread, spread with melting butter and a topping of strawberry or raspberry jam… what better way to enjoy breakfast in France? French jams and preserves are packed with fresh fruit and come in all kinds of varieties, from apricot and plum to cherry or blueberry – the perfect topping for toast.

The classic French omelet is a great breakfast recipe and will keep you going until it’s time to stop for mid-morning coffee. Topped with fresh herbs and lightly cooked, you can choose to have your omelet with cheese or ham for a more filling dish.

Rich, freshly roasted coffee is the common choice for many French people, but there are plenty of other morning beverages to choose from. 

The most popular style of coffee in France is espresso (un café). This is a strong, small shot of coffee served in a tiny cup. Many French people enjoy their espresso at a bar or brasserie, standing at the bar for a quick caffeine fix. Why not try it as a pick-me-up while you’re doing some serious shopping at Galeries Lafayette?

If you prefer a larger coffee, you can order “un café allongé” (an americano) or “un café crème” (espresso with steamed milk). 

Coffee is often enjoyed after a meal in France along with a small chocolate. 

Do you want to take home some traditional French coffee as a souvenir of your vacation in Paris? You’ll find a variety of grocery products at Le Gourmet store on the lower ground floor of Galeries Lafayette. This is also a great place to visit if you want to shop for picnic ingredients such as fruit, salads, cheese, fresh bread, eggs, and delicatessen dishes.

If you order a cup of tea to accompany your French breakfast it will be served black, usually with the teabag still in the cup. You’ll have to ask for milk if you want to take your tea the English way, which will be served in a jug.

You may find you’re offered herbal or fruit teas as part of your French breakfast, which come in a variety of blends and flavors. 

Typical French hot chocolate is thick, rich, and delicious. If you’re a chocoholic you’ll fall in love with this drink, especially when it’s served with a dollop of Chantilly cream. And the good news is hot chocolate in France isn´t just for kids – you’ll see stylish ladies and men in suits sipping this legendary French drink.

Good to know  📝

For an unforgettable chocolate breakfast head for EL&N London on the 4th floor and indulge in a pastry (or two!) or a forest fruits and syrup-topped brioche…delicious. You’ll also find savory breakfast here such as eggs Benedict, a selection of mouthwatering French quiche and avocado toast.

If you’re craving a healthy smoothie or a freshly squeezed juice (accompanied by a pastry!), head for DS Café in the Wellness Galerie. This is the ideal place to unwind after a vigorous workout at the Galeries Lafayette La Source fitness club.

The geographical diversity of France contributes to the richness of its cuisine, with each area offering its own specialties and ingredients. Depending on where you are, breakfast could range from a pastry and coffee to fresh fruit and yogurt or a savory omelet. 

If you want to take some time to plan your shopping excursion head for Café Coutume or Lafayette Café, where you can enjoy freshly brewed coffee and eat some of the most delicious breakfast foods in the city.

Outside Paris you’ll find breakfast in France is a more sedate affair that often uses fresh local ingredients. In the South of France, you might find pastries flavored with lavender water. In Brittany, you can enjoy galettes (a savory crepe) served with bacon and eggs or meat and cheese that also make a great lunch dish.

Imagine the warmth of the sun, a gentle breeze, and the view of the Mediterranean in the distance. A typical French breakfast by the coast offers an al fresco dining experience, whether you choose a sweet or savory option. Why not accompany your traditional French breakfast with a mimosa to make the occasion special?

Unlike in America, breakfast in France isn´t considered to be the most important meal.  However, this is debatable if you’re on a trip to Paris and want to fuel up before a sightseeing tour and keep the hunger at bay until lunch. 

If you want to eat breakfast like the French one rule is to break your baguette with your fingers, never cut it with a knife. And don´t expect to be given a plate to put it on – the custom is to put the bread in the center of the table and everyone to break off chunks to dip in their coffee or spread with butter and jam.

The ambiance around the French breakfast table can be lively, especially if several family members or friends are getting together. Something you may find unusual is that cutlery is placed face down in France, and when the waiter clears your plate they’ll leave it on the table for the next course.

Good to know  📝

For a taste of a genuine French bakery visit Chez Meunier, where artisan bakers offer a delicious selection of bread and pastries. Here you can choose a variety of pastries and snacks to create your very own French breakfast table, complete with authentic ambience.

Eating on the go in France, known as “manger sur le pouce”,  is common in urban areas where people have busy schedules. You’ll find a bar area in Café Coutume where you can stand or perch on a bar stool and enjoy your breakfast just like the French. 

If you’re visiting Galeries Lafayette the On The Go selection of restaurants offers everything from healthy juices to pancakes or sugar-topped pastries.

French cuisine is based on flavor and taste. High-quality ingredients are often fresher, filled with nutrients, and free from additives and preservatives, making them a healthier choice than pre-packaged food.

Every ingredient is carefully selected to ensure an exceptional culinary experience in a typical French breakfast. Whether it’s the sweetness of homemade jam, the rich taste of artisanal cheeses, or the aroma of fresh herbs, each will complement the dish. 

Sweet or savory crepe offer a wide variety of fillings, from melted chocolate, lemon and sugar, to cold meats or smoked salmon, while split croissants filled with tasty French cheese and ham taste wonderful. Try adding a spoonful of jam to a baguette topped with cheese – the sweet-and-sour combination is amazing!

When you’ve returned home why not try making a typical French breakfast to conjure up memories of your vacation in France and impress friends and family? It’s easy to recreate the delicious recipes you learned on the Baker’s Secrets or macaron-making workshop at Galeries Lafayette.

Recipes to Recreate the French Experience at Home

Below are some ideas to savor the delectable French cuisine in the comfort of your own home.

  • French omelet – filled with bacon, tomatoes, and cheese
  • Crepes – easy to make in minutes and you can add the filling of your choice – fresh fruit, chocolate, honey…
  • French toast – a delicious buttery, eggy bread dish best made with French brioche
  • Quiche – perfect for breakfast or brunch and filled with savory ingredients including cheese, broccoli, leeks, asparagus, and bacon.
  • Croque Monsieur – a kind of grilled cheese sandwich that tastes delicious washed down with a glass of fresh orange juice.
  • Croque Madame – the same as the Croque Monsieur, but the lady gets a poached or fried egg on top of her sandwich.

If you’re vacationing in Paris a visit to the Lafayette Home Section is a must. Here you’ll find a vast range of kitchen items that’ll be indispensable in creating a French recipe at home. Plus, you can get a tax refund on your purchases over €100 if you live outside the EU. What a great reason to treat yourself to a set of authentic Le Creuset cookware or the utensils to practice the recipe you’ve learned in the French bakery class.

To prepare these recipes at home, don’t hesitate to drop by the Gourmet on the ground floor to get your ingredients.

Good to know  📝

Le Gourmet has extended opening hours: 
09.30 a.m. – 9.30 p.m. Monday-Saturday 
11.00 a.m. – 8.00 p.m. Sundays and public holidays

We hope we’ve made your mouth water with these typical French breakfast ideas. French cuisine is famous throughout the world for its quality and uses culinary methods passed down through generations. 

Whether you’re on a shopping trip to Paris or a visit to the French coast, enjoying a typical French breakfast will add to your vacation experience.

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