Make your visits to the boulangerie more memorable and delicious by following these tips for ordering bread in Paris.

When I moved to Paris in 2015, I began making frequent trips to my neighborhood boulangerie just like Parisians do. On the first few visits, I found the frenetic pace and the choices overwhelming. I would wait in line trying to read all the little signs. When I got to the front, I’d often point frantically to something, too flustered to articulate anything in French beyond “Je voudrais” (point). Sometimes it was what I wanted and sometimes not. During the two years I lived in Paris, I picked up valuable tips for ordering bread and pastries. I still use them on the frequent trips I make to the city. Do the following and your bakery visits will be fun and stress-free.

Travelproper tip: Always say “Bonjour” when you enter any bakery (or boutique) in Paris and make eye contact with the salesperson. And say “Merci, au revoir” when you leave. It’s considered common courtesy.

Know your baguettes.

Not all baguettes in France are created equal. The slender loaf you see behind the counter labeled “baguette” is often made using inexpensive ingredients. This is why you always want to ask for the bakery’s baguette “tradition.” Bakers must follow strict standards when crafting baguette tradition. It has to be made the traditional way and bakers can only use four ingredients including flour, yeast, salt and water.

Image of Pain des Amis at Du Pain et des Idées in Paris
The Pain des Amis at Du Pain et des Idées has a thick crust that tastes like nuts, caramel and smoke. You can order a whole piece, half or a quarter.

Specify how you like your bread cooked.

While bakeries in Paris prefer to move people through the line quickly, Parisians are particular. You should never be afraid to ask for exactly what you want. If you like your bread nice and crispy ask for bien cuite (well done) or if you prefer it a tad doughy say pas trop cuite (not overcooked). The person behind the counter may even ask you your preference.

Image of Du Pain et des Idées in Paris
The pretty facade of Du Pain et des Idées in the 10th arrondissement.

Get the right amount.

When you see a beautiful large round miche or crusty rectangular loaf as long as your torso, don’t fret knowing you’re going back to a small hotel room. You can almost always order part of it. Ask for half (une demi) or a quarter (un quart).

Know the names for bread made with whole wheat.

If you want bread made using whole wheat flour, order pain complet. Pain de campagne or French sourdough is made with a combination of white flour, whole wheat flour and/or rye flour. Miche typically includes a high percentage of whole wheat. To learn more about the best types of bread to order in Paris besides baguettes, read my story for Bon Appétit here.

Image of Pain du Coin at Liberté in Paris
The secret ingredient in Liberté bakery’s excellent Pain du Coin is smoked sea salt.

Go where locals go.

For an authentic experience and the city’s best loaves go to bakeries frequented by locals. Some good options include Au Petit Versailles du Marais in the 4th arrondissement, Du Pain et des Idées and Liberté in the 10th, Boulangerie Gontran Cherrier in Montmartre and Boulangerie Maison M’seddi in the 13th. The baker there won Paris’s Best Baguette competition in 2018.

Always dreamed of living in Paris? Check out my step by step guide here. Planning to visit the Marais? Look at this story featuring my favorite spots.

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