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A Tale of Two Breakfasts: France vs. America

A Tale of Two Breakfasts: France vs. America

The French Petit Déjeuner...

In France, breakfast, known as “le petit déjeuner,” is typically understated. The French philosophy for breakfast is quite simple and light, focusing on quality over quantity.

A traditional French breakfast might include:

  • Baguette: A fresh, crisp baguette is a staple, usually simply spread with butter and jam.
  • Croissants and Viennoiseries: The quintessence of French breakfast, freshly baked croissants, pain au chocolat (chocolate croissants), or perhaps a pain aux raisins (a raisin pastry) are common. Often croissants and pains au chocolats are part of a slower weekend breakfast in a French family.
  • Coffee: Typically, the French drink a bowl-sized cup of café au lait (coffee with milk) or espresso, savoring the chance to dip their croissants or baguette into the aromatic brew. Children tend to have a hot chocolate with their 'tartines' (baguette).

The French breakfast is generally enjoyed slowly, despite its simplicity, reflecting the French’s overall approach to meals as leisurely and important periods of the day. Many people traveling to France from Anglo-Saxon countries are surprised by the simplicity and lightness of the first meal of the day.

In these countries breakfast is a more diverse, savory and hearty meal that can vary significantly across different regions but often includes eggs, bacon, pancakes, porridge, potatoes and juice. There is an emphasis on protein, which really doesn't exist in the French notion of breakfast.

The stars of the breakfast meal in France are bakers - boulangers. Bread is an art form and every town or village often has at least three boulangeries from which to choose. A boulangerie's focus is on baked items like bread and croissants, while a pâtisserie specializes in pastries and cakes.