The first thing I do when I arrive in Paris is head to a boulangerie for a fresh pastry. I have been known to skip breakfast on the plane because I know what lies ahead. The Parisians have the visit to a boulangerie down to a science. When you enter, they expect you to understand what you want, and you should order your Parisian pastry promptly. Here is a simple breakdown of the top 5 choices you will find at a Parisian boulangerie and the different ways to order a pastry in Paris.
If you have ever seen a boulangerie with a line, you know they have to move through the people quickly.
Croissant – There are actually two croissants; a croissant au beurre and croissants ordinaries. A croissant au beurre is the one you want to get that is made with only butter. Croissants ordinaires can contain margarine and are typically crescent-shaped.
Pain au Chocolat – Usually my top choice, this is a regular butter croissant with tiny bars of chocolate rolled in between the layers. If you get a warm croissant, it will ooze with melted chocolate, and if you are a chocolate lover like me, it may be the best thing you ever tasted. In the south of France, they refer to these as a chocolatine. You may get into an argument with some French people over the term for this pastry, depending on where they reside in France.
Croissant aux Amandes (almond croissants) Originally this was a way for boulangeries to resell day old croissants. The croissants are filled with crème d’amandes (almond cream), sprinkled with sliced almonds, and baked again, letting the cream set and the outside to crisp.
Pain aux raisins – Sometimes called an escargot because of its shape. The dough is the same as the original croissant, but you will find raisins and almond cream or custard filling added in between.
Brioche – You can find this plain or brioche avec sucre with large sugar sprinkles on top for a sweet touch. It is a type of bread with a sweeter flavor. It goes great with a coffee in the morning.
These will be the most common offerings at a Paris hotel. You will find them in miniature sizes, and I don’t blame you for trying a few different kinds for research purposes.
Of course, there are more Parisian pastries to enjoy in Paris, but these are just 5 to know and try on your next trip to Paris. If you have a favorite I missed that isn’t on my top 5 list, comment below and share yours with the EDP community.
For more Paris tips on navigating the city, neighborhoods to explore, and where to eat, buy The Paris Guide.
Now that you know what you want to order, Carrie Anne James of French is Beautiful gives her tips on the proper way to order in French:
Bonjour ! | Hello!
Un croissant, s’il vous plaît. | One croissant, please.
Deux pains au chocolat,s’il vous plaît. | Two chocolate croissants, please.
Une brioche, s’il vous plaît. | A brioche, please.
Trois pains aux raisins, s’il vous plaît. | Three pains aux raisins, please.
Then, after they ask, ‘Et avec ceci ?’ (And with that?) or ‘Ça sera tout ?’ (Will that be everything?):
After paying, always close the experience with:
Merci, monsieur/madame. Bonne journée/Bonne soirée. | Thank you, sir/madam. Have a great day/evening.