Caffeine and Carbs – The Breakfast of Paris

Tim's Wine Market

My apologies for the long delay in this post and others related to our family trip to France. There is a lot of content to provide and my self imposed 500 word limit has created some logistical challenges. The easy solution is to explain eating in Paris in three parts; breakfast, lunch and dinner. Stay tuned as each of the next three weeks will cover each topic.

For those who have not visited Paris, it is easy to say that the French do not subscribe to the “most important meal of the day” mantra of Americans. In fact, finding a substantial meal for breakfast in Paris is really difficult, but they do have their own system down pat.

Most of the small cafes around the city serve the same breakfast; coffee/espresso, a pastry and an optional glass of fresh squeezed orange juice, for $7-12 euro. They have the coffee/espresso mastered, and I always order a cafe Americano, which is two shots of espresso diluted with an equal amount of hot water. Most of the cafes do not bake their own pastries, but from my experience they buy them from one of the local boulangeries (bakeries.) 

Although it adds to the cost do not miss the fresh squeezed orange juice. This is usually distributed from a machine that sits near the bar that and is stacked with oranges. With each order the server presses a button that drops oranges into a squeezing apparatus and delivers a perfect cup of OJ. It really is a great system, why do we not have it here? I can only guess that it is the OJ that protects the Parisian population from primary and second hand smoke. 

One thing that has changed since I first started visiting France 30 years ago is coffee to go. I still remember a trip in 1993 when I was late to get in the van for a wine visit with a group, and needed a cup of coffee. I ran into a local cafe and asked for a coffee to go. Obviously there was a language barrier, but the barman refused pointing to a coffee cup and saucer, waving his finger at me and patting the bar. The implication being that coffee should be taken sitting down. (On subsequent trips I packed my own to-go cup, Yankee ingenuity.)

On this trip I was surprised to see several coffee places that only provide a cup “take away”, no seating. My how times have changed. We hit one near our apartment, Brigadeiro d’Alis ( that had great coffee and cold brew drinks.

Breakfasts we enjoyed in Paris and beyond:

Sain – amazing pastries and good coffee. Make sure to maintain a proper queue, the owner kept motioning us and a few other Americans to stop looking at the pastries and stay in line. This did cause some split second decision making but never fear, we tasted a substantial number of items in two visits and everything is amazing. Best raisin croissant (pain au raisins) I tasted in Paris, and I had a few of them.

Loustic40 Rue Chapon, Paris – Tiny coffee shop across the street from our apartment. Good coffee, decent pastries. Becomes a wine bar later in the day.

Cafe Etienne14 R. de Turbigo, Paris – Pictured above. Classic corner cafe, very good coffee and fresh pastries. The orange juice here is superb.

Le Fournil de Louis11 Rue de l’Église, 51700 Châtillon-sur-Marne – amazing pastry shop in the tiny village of Chatillon-sur-Marne (Champagne region) – We did not have coffee here but all of the pastries were superb.