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From freshly baked croissants to brioche and beyond: an ode to the delight of French breakfasts

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Faye Bullock is a Paris-based photographer who blogs about her favourite French finds and travel destinations at Farfelue.com. Here, she tells us why French breakfasts are among the best in the world

Waking up for breakfast in Paris is always exciting. There are endless options, from idyllic breakfast cafes to traditional bakeries selling every sort of pastry. 

France is a breakfast lover’s paradise.

Sometimes I jump straight out of bed and head bleary-eyed and messy-haired to the local bakery to pick up a couple of croissants to have in bed. Other times, I get dressed up and enjoy a slow, relaxed breakfast al fresco, on some Parisian backstreet.

Saint Germain has an abundance of cafes where you can people watch while tucking into a fluffy omelet washed down with a café crème – Café des Flores (cafedeflore.fr) and Les Deux Magots (lesdeuxmagots.fr) are among my favourites.

On weekends, breakfast is a leisurely affair which can last a whole morning. Parisians flock to Canal St Martin, to the likes of Holybelly (holybel.ly), for a more substantial breakfast. Speciality coffee is served alongside homemade granola or eggs and sides. Weekend breakfasts are sacred in France and treasured as moments to spend with friends and family, celebrating quality produce and bonding over good food.

Weekends also allow the time for breakfasts hosted at my Parisian apartment where I head to a plethora of different bakeries, pastry shops and delicatessens to pick up the finest breakfast fare. Friends join me at a table laden with pastries, freshly baked baguettes, homemade jams and juices.

Sometimes, breakfast blurs into lunch and even dinner, and later we realise that we've been eating brioche and talking for the best part of the day.

In celebration of our favourite meal, I’ve listed the French breakfast pastries that I love the most, and where to get them from.

Croissant

A trip to the local bakery often precedes breakfast in France. There are few things sweeter than the buttery smell of freshly baked croissants filling your house and the rustling of paper bags as they’re placed on the kitchen table. In France, croissants are served with butter and a selection of jams for extra indulgence. The much-loved croissant has become a breakfast staple and imagining a world without this French pastry creation simply doesn’t bear thinking about.

Vanilla croissant

The only thing better than a plain croissant for breakfast is one which is sugar-glazed and filled with Madagascan vanilla. Nowhere does them better than Café Pouchkine (cafe-pouchkine.fr), a Franco-Russian pastry shop of mighty reputation. The vanilla croissant is tasty enough to gently waken your morning taste buds without overwhelming them.

Ispahan croissant

If ever I’ve got friends in town and we’re feeling more lavish than the ordinary croissant, I take them to Pierre Hermé (pierreherme.com) for the famed Ispahan croissant. Perfect flaky pastry is filled with rose, raspberry and litchi paste and sprinkled with candied rose petals. It’s the ideal breakfast pastry for anyone with a sweet tooth and remains one of Paris’ best kept secrets.

Pain au chocolat

For chocolate lovers, there is always the pain au chocolat. Best served when hot so that the chocolate ganache filling melts in your mouth as you bite into the buttery caramelized exterior.

Tartine

Breakfast would be a sorry affair without the baguette, crunchy on the outside and fluffy within. The most traditional French breakfast is simple but delicious. Known as a “tartine” in France, a large slice of baguette is toasted and served with butter. It’s a breakfast which the French execute exceptionally well due to mastering the perfect baguette and little touches such as curled butter and miniature pots of artisan jams.

Chouquette

Chouquettes are a delightful addition to any breakfast table. These bite-sized pastries are as light as air and dangerously moreish. The classic chouquette is made with choux pastry and sprinkled with crystalised sugar pearls. Why do we love them? Because they’re a longstanding secret among Parisians who not only pick up a bag of these little delights for breakfast, but for any occasion.

Pain aux raisins

It’s unlikely that a basket of breakfast pastries will ever be without the popular pain aux raisins. More aptly known as an escargot due to its snail-like shape which spirals out from the center like the pattern of a shell. The best in Paris can be purchased at the bakery Du Pain et des Idées (dupainetdesidees.com), where people come from far and wide for one of their signature pastries. Choose among flavours such as pistachio, praline and blackcurrant.

Chausson aux pommes

Pureed apple is as close as French breakfast fare comes to fruit. The chausson aux pommes is an ode to pureed apple, how much the French love it and how well it marries with puff pastry.

Macarons

If you need a sugar fix in the mornings then start your day with a couple of candy-coloured macarons. Endless in variety, from classic flavours such as pungent raspberry and creamy vanilla to inventive creations such as fig and foie gras. Grab a couple on the go and they'll happily tide you over until elevenses.

Brioche

Eating fluffy, buttery brioche for breakfast is like waking up on cloud nine. Even better is that in France it’s widely accepted as a breakfast staple. Parisians flock to the market street Rue Cler to pick up theirs from Pralus (chocolat-pralus.com), a traditional bakery selling melt-in-your-mouth brioche studded with pieces of praline and sugarcoated hazelnuts.

And the best place to visit for breakfast… Carette

The Paris-based café Carette (carette-paris.fr) epitomizes the French way of breakfasting. Coffee is served in floral chinaware, baskets of freshly baked rolls arrive promptly at the table and the omelets are always light and fluffy. Breakfast is served al fresco on the pretty street-side terrace overlooking either the Eiffel Tower or Place des Vosges, depending on which location you choose.


Words and images: Faye Bullock / Farfelue.com / @FarfelueParis

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