French Bakery 101
Clotilde’s top five tips to navigate the French bakery scene.
- A boulangerie (bakery) centers on bread and viennoiseries (puff pastry confections such as croissant and pain au chocolat); a pâtisserie (pastry shop) focuses on pastries. It’s a rare boulanger who makes good pastries and vice versa, so stick to their respective area of specialty.
- Bakeries have fresh croissants at opening time (typically at 7 a.m. or 7:30 a.m.), then churn out a couple more batches throughout the day, with the last one scheduled for 4:30 p.m. when kids come out of school.
- Parisians know their food, and they’ll only wait in line if a bakery is worth it. So if you’re scouting out a new neighborhood, look for the boulangerie that has a line snaking out onto the sidewalk.
- Since lines can be long at the popular places (see #3!) and people expect lines to move briskly, make sure you have your order ready by the time it’s your turn. (It’s okay to dilly-dally as long as you’re not in the line.)
- For purchases under 10€, be prepared to pay in cash. And look out for the automatic registers that more and more bakeries install to avoid handling the change.