Remember when I said that in Paris that "breakfast is not a thing”? I don’t mean in terms of it being the first meal of the day or what time it's eaten. I mean in the sense that their "breakfast" errs on the conservative side – continental, subsisting simply of coffee and a croissant. Is the coffee a high quality, caffeinated delight? Mais oui. Are their croissants delicately flakey, golden, buttery goodness? Not the point!
How “American-style breakfasts” – fit for several, massively hungover, starving, midseason, linebackers – are not en vogue in Paris is almost as unfathomable as people who skip breakfast all together. Why would anyone willingly deprive themselves of the complete and utter joy of eating? You don't need to be a mathematician to estimate that more meals = more happiness.
I was determined to scour the streets of Paris for the breakfast-lovers of the world! Here are 5 Spots to Satisfying Your Breakfast Craving in Paris:
01/ BUVETTE GASTROTHÈQUE - The Hipster Haven
After being seated in this cozy-chic, exposed-brick haven with fresh jus pamplemousse (grapefruit juice, but SO much more fun to say!) and a cappuccino in hand, Janelle and I not-so subtly ogled dishes being served to fellow diners at Buvette.
While the hachis parmentier – a mini Shepherd’s Pie of fragrant minced meat blanketing fluffy mounds of mashed potato – our neighbour was enjoying beside us inspired serious food envy, my heart (or stomach) was already set on the waffle sandwich.
I spied the decadent dish while doing an obligatory Google search of Buvette and almost had a coronary when I couldn’t find it on the menu. Luckily, it’s just that my French is extremely poor and I didn't realize that "gaufre" was French for waffle. French word of the day!
A blend of sweet and savory, Le Sandwich – as it is so aptly dubbed on the menu – is a plump sunny-side up egg, bacon and cheese sandwiched by two perfectly textured rectangles of waffle with deep pockets overflowing with syrup.
Let your inner fat kid coerce you into ordering the Brioche et Amande for dessert. The thick-cut brioche is slathered with creamy butter, honey and topped with a mountain of fresh berries, dusted with icing sugar. Paris’ reputation for baked goods is no joke.
BUVETTE GASTROTHÈQUE | 28 Rue Henry Monnier
02/ BOY - The Basic Breakfast
The comforting and homey scent of freshly baked bread welcomed us into Boy (that sounds odd…) and sure enough, there was an enormous slab of brioche cooling off on the table next to where we seated. Setting us up for inevitable failure to resist buttery temptation.
Their motto of “Think less, eat better” reflects their daily menus – short and sweet, with all dishes made with ingredients that are seasonal, organic, and locally produced.
Recline against plump pillows along the wall and sip the fresh juice of the day then go straight for the bowls of silky scrambled eggs. Sharing a stack of pancakes with maple syrup (so good you’d think you were in Canada), is a MUST….unless you’re a monster who hates feeling joy. Win at life by adding a generous side of crispy bacon to your order.
BOY | 43 Rue Notre Dame of Lorette
03/ THE HARDWARE SOCIÉTÉ - The Hearty “Brekkie”
I doubt any country that coined the term “haute cuisine” with a pristine (albeit fattening) reputation for being an authority in the food world would care to admit this, but Australian transplants – like The Hardware Société – changed the morning meal game in Paris.
Work up an appetite by having your breath taken away by the glorious view at the nearby Sacré-Cœur, take the requisite IG photo at the sinking house, then prepare for a breakfast worth unbuttoning your pants for at this airy, hidden gem.
Start off with the best hot chocolate – described by Janelle as “heaven” – or a “house-made chai.” Not really sure how chai is made in-house but it was lovely!
We were persuaded to try The Roasted Mushrooms, a vegetarian dish that ended up being SO GOOD that it keeps me up nights. Plump roasted field mushrooms topped olive bread in a smear of white bean puree with chèvre and hazelnut crumble scattered generously on poached eggs. I would buy a plane ticket just to eat it again.
More inline with our carnivore tendencies, we used slivers of toast to dig into a mini Le Creuset dutch oven of baked eggs in cauliflower puree with scallops, leek and crispy jamon.
THE HARDWARE SOCIÉTÉ | 10 Rue Lamarck
04/ SOUL KITCHEN - The “Feel Good” Breakfast
Situated in the heart of Montmatre – up the street from Sacré-Cœur – Soul Kitchen is led by three sister chefs and worth the many, steep, seemingly endless steps to get there (from where we were at least).
Bright and cozy, get in line to peruse the daily specials written on a chalkboard (usually posted on their Facebook) and crossed out as they sell out.
If you’re overwhelmed by the appetizing display at the counter opt for the plat au choix – that includes a salad, main, and dessert – then snag a table flooded in natural light (#doitforthegram).
Feeling adventurous that day, I rejected the typical orange juice in favour of a fresh strawberry one and it was a flavour bomb! The first course of salad was crisp greens topped with red pepper, chickpeas, and a refreshing pineapple dressing followed by a hearty pork, eggplant, and tomato stew on bulgur. Janelle chose the main of winter focaccia studded with bright chunks butternut squash, kalamata olives, sliced almonds, and feta.
Everything was so fresh and flavourful but the daily dessert was the most memorable for me. The fromage blanc – a mix between Greek yogurt and marscapone – topped with your choice of chestnut or blueberry compote (I got the latter) was divine and minus the whiff of guilt that occasionally follows dessert.
SOUL KITCHEN | 33 Rue Lamarck
05/ CAFÉ DE FLORE - The Iconic French Breakfast
No trip to Paris is complete without lounging like a local at the legendary Café de Flore. One of the oldest coffeehouses in the City of Lights, it’s known for being the watering hole for glamorous celebrity clientele, famous artists like Picasso, and lauded in films and songs.
Revel in the ambiance, steeped in history and decorated Art Deco style with red booths, mirrors, and mahogany.
When in a classic French café, order the classics! The wild mushroom omelette and obligatory café allongé (a long espresso) were acceptable but the hot chocolate was shockingly good – rich, creamy, and warming. The perfect spot to people watch and enjoy a new book!
CAFÉ DE FLORE | 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain
SCENE + HEARD:
+ I tried to go to Ellsworth for their famous fried chicken and fixed priced lunch menu but by time I found it, it was closed till dinner. Usually closes around 2:30pm, like a lot of establishments in Paris.
+ Holybelly Café is another popular Australian spot. I really want to gorge on pancake stacks topped with sunny-side up eggs and bacon but I was too intimidated by the long lines they apparently have.
+ I’ve heard that if you’re looking for breakfast at a classic French bistro, Café Charlot is a tried and true for their Eggs Benedict.