Everyone knows the French “croissant” – and French people love them.
Yet, asking for “un croissant au chocolat” is a sign of being a tourist.
1) Popular French desserts
Un dessert = a dessert, such as:
- Une crêpe = a crepe (especially from Brittany)
- Une crêpe au sucre et au citron = a crepe with lemon and sugar.
- Une gaufre = a waffle (especially from Belgium or Northern France)
- La crème chantilly = whipped cream
French pastries can be lighter than you think! French people don’t really go overboard on the toppings. But we often see tourists or travellers (or gourmands) order everything possible.
The extra mile :
Gourmand (adjective for food) = savory, hearty, yummy
Un gourmand, une gourmande (someone) = someone who loves food
2) Croissant etiquette
A well-known French pastry is le croissant. Or le croissant au beurre, a “butter” croissant. And that’s… mostly the only kind of croissant you’ll find in France.
You’ll very rarely find more eccentric options, like:
- Un croissant au chocolat
- Un croissant au jambon (a ham-filled croissant)
- Any kind of croissant salé (salty croissant)
- Any kind of variation where the croissant is cut and filled, or eaten like a sandwich.
You might find some in some supermarkets, but these options are really unusual and not part of French food culture. The most common croissant by far is the plain, flaky, butter one.
At most, we like to spread jam on a croissant when having tea or having breakfast!
3) Other pastries
In une pâtisserie (= a French pastry shop,) you’ll also find:
- un éclair (= “lightning” literally)
- un financier (= almond pastry)
- un mille-feuille (= literally “a 1000-sheet”)
Un Paris-Brest (named after a bicycle race, hence its wheel shape)
Une religieuse (= “a nun”, literally)
4) Puff pastry
Most popular pastries in France are les viennoiseries, made from puff pastry.
Most common viennoiseries:
- le pain aux raisins, literally “bread with grapes”
- le palmier, literally “the palmtree”
- le chausson aux pommes, literally “an apple-filled slipper”
- le croissant (au beurre), of course
- le pain au chocolat (or la chocolatine, as it’s called in South-Western France)
** Le truc en plus :
Learn more about chocolatine and the various names for this pastry, including a linguistic map: Chocolatine ou pain au chocolat : la science a tranché (France 3 channel)
French pastries and customs can vary by region. For instance, in Alsace, near the French-German border, bakers add icing sugar on top of their viennoiseries : Pourquoi met-on du sucre glace sur les croissants et les petits pains au chocolat en Alsace ?
5) How to buy pastries in France (like a French person)
Une pâtisserie = a pastry, or a pastry shop
Une boulangerie-pâtisserie = a bakery & pastry shop (most of the time)
We buy pastries for le petit-déjeuner (= breakfast) or le goûter (= the 4pm light snack we sometimes indulge in).
Order like a French person with:
“Bonjour ! Je vais vous prendre [deux pains au chocolat] s’il vous plaît”
= “Hi! I’ll take two pain au chocolats please”.
Don’t forget to be polite with Bonjour and s’il vous plaît !
You can use the sentence: “Je vais vous prendre [quelque chose]” when ordering anything, from une pizza à emporter (= a take-out pizza) or at the restaurant.
Keep exploring French culture with me:
Click here to get your next lesson:
- French people never go the the Champs-Élysées
- 5 Things French People Never Do
- Mastering the Basics: French Greetings + How to Practice Your French
- French People Never Say Bonjour Twice (to the same person on the same day)
À tout de suite.
I’ll see you in the next video!
→ If you enjoyed this lesson (and/or learned something new) – why not share this lesson with a francophile friend? You can talk about it afterwards! You’ll learn much more if you have social support from your friends 🙂
→ Double your Frenchness! Get my 10-day “Everyday French Crash Course” and learn more spoken French for free. Students love it! Start now and you’ll get Lesson 01 right in your inbox, straight away.
Click here to sign up for my FREE Everyday French Crash Course