As a British girl, I have grown up on bacon sandwiches and poached eggs with toast to begin my days (on the weekends, at least). This meant that coming to France was quite a shock to my system: no bacon? How could I survive? What would I possibly eat for breakfast? I soon worked it out…
Sitting in a Parisian cafe in the Paris-Bercy quarter, I ordered my first ever ‘French breakfast’. The title sounded fitting and, for only 3 euros, what was not to love?
When a singular plain croissant and shot of espresso arrived before me, I realised that the breakfast to rival a Full English I had foolishly anticipated definitely suited its low price: they don’t call it a petit déjeuner for nothing… It was time to adapt to this culture shock and to begin my pursuit of the Best Breakfast in France!
The Best Pastry: Pain Chocolat Amande
Love pastries but bored of a plain old croissant? The Pain Chocolat Amande might just be for you! A mixture between a classic Pain Chocolat, Almond Croissant and cake, this intriguing yet delicious pastry is cheap, relatively filling and can be found in France’s best bakeries. Whilst Reims is a city better known for its Champagne, if you venture to student-favourite La Cave à Pains you will find the ultimate Pain Chocolat Amande (that is, if the morning batch hasn’t sold out already!) Of course, France offers an endless selection of traditional pastries, but this is the best by far.
The Best Regional Breakfast: The Breton Crepe
Each region in France has its own speciality. One could literally spend years studying French gastronomy. However, in all due respect to France’s localised dishes, the best regional treat to be had at breakfast is the Breton Crepe. Lighter than a pancake, but of a similar composition in essence, the crepe is first and foremost a Breton product, although creperies do appear in many towns across France, from Dijon to Paris. This is perhaps the most versatile French breakfast too, with an endless number of toppings to be selected at the most accommodating creperies. Note: crepes are popularly eaten for lunch or dinner in France, but if you cannot wait for a late brunch, multiple street vendors across Paris tend to offer these sweet-savoury treats throughout the day.
The Best Supermarket Breakfast: Chocolat Chaud et Muesli
If you’re on a budget or would like to enjoy something a little healthier, why not pop down to your local Carrefour? The best thing I have found in there to eat for breakfast is the chain’s own-brand Muesli (which is actually just Granola and comes in about 7 flavours). Add some pasteurised milk and Chocolat Chaud powder (Hot Chocolate is traditionally drank at breakfast, in France) to your basket and you will be set for days to come.
Special mention: Carrefour Kids Crepes
Yes, technically this one is a light snack for children, but sometimes one must improvise when living in a new country. The Carrefour Kids Crepes are compact, tasty and more filling than you would think. Sold in packets of 8, with a choice between chocolate or strawberry flavoured filling, these hidden treasures have become a staple in my French shopping basket. Why not give them a try if you get the chance? What have you got to lose? A crepe may not be an appropriate substitute for a bacon sandwich, but it will be an immense challenge to find the latter anywhere.