Demystifying the French breakfast

Incredible food and wine are an essential part of French culture and with all that fatty food, one would wonder how French women manage to stay so thin!

Well, being a French women who lived in Paris for many years myself, I am going to let you in on a little secret: French women don’t eat breakfast.

Yep, that’s right! French women start their day with an espresso or a cup of black tea; at least most of the week.

Because the French diet is all about balance, we do sometimes indulge ourselves and actually eat breakfast. But unlike in many countries, the French breakfast is somewhat light. It usually includes a cup of tea or coffee, a glass of orange juice, a slice of baguette with jam and butter and/or a pastry such as a croissant or a pain au chocolat.

Now let’s talk about misconceptions, do’s and don’ts.

  1. Do not butcher your croissant

A croissant is not a dessert or a main course guys. Actually, it’s not even supposed to be cut open! Cheese and ham or cheese and tomato croissants are simply not a thing in France so don’t be fooled by these franchises with a French name. They most certainly do have some good stuff, but they also get others very wrong! I have seen places in New York where a pain au chocolat is called a croissant au chocolat – that hurts.

  1. Fruits and tartes are for dessert

We do not eat tartes or fruits for breakfast. I mean, if that’s what you fancy, who am I to judge! And frankly, I have done much worse (i.e. eating potato chips with mayonnaise in a fancy New York restaurant). But if you want to do as the Romans when in Rome, that’s a big don’t. And in case you were wondering, French toast (pain perdu) and crepes also fall in the dessert category!

  1. Crepes can also be a main course, and so are boiled eggs

That’s right, those famed egg dishes like oeufs cocottes are usually reserved for lunch and dinner.

  1. We do not drink coffee with milk and out of a large bowl

Seriously, I don’t know where this image of the French drinking a very large bowl of coffee with milk for breakfast comes from. I think this may date back to WW2 when coffee was scarce and people drank “chicorée” more but I’m not sure.

In any case, I have never seen a French person drink a large bowl of coffee with plenty of milk in it in my lifetime. I’m not saying that no French person does it ever… I mean these big bowls are kind of retro and fashionable… but it’s not the norm!

And here is a useful tip! If you are in a café in Paris and ask for a coffee, they will serve you an espresso. If what you are after is a large cup of coffee, make sure to ask for a café allongé.

I hope this article will help all the globetrotters out there headed to France! And if you have questions or want to share your experience, leave a comment below!


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