Breakfast in Paris typically consists of coffee, croissants, tartines and maybe a brioche or two. But recently, a plethora of international cafés and restaurants have arrived on the scene, adding more depth to the city’s traditional breakfast and brunch options.
In a city that still marches to its own (very traditional) drum, breakfast and brunch is the one international food trend that has managed to make its way into French parlance via its very own new verb, bruncher (to brunch). Impress your Parisian friends by asking: “On brunch où ce week-end?” To help you decide, Culture Trip has picked the very best places to go for breakfast and brunch in Paris.
Make breakfast a classy affair at Claus
Restaurant, French, Fusion, $$$
When Claus Estermann brought his take on brunch to Paris, it was at a time when the idea of eating breakfast food at any other time of the day than first thing in the morning was highly unusual in the city. Estermann now has two Claus establishments in Paris, and both are dedicated to all-day breakfast. Alongside the usual staples of buttery croissants and sweet pain au chocolats is a truly international menu featuring influences from Nordic, Italian, Japanese and Germanic cuisines.
The owners of Coutume Café – Australian Tom Clarke and Parisian Antoine Netien – were two of the driving forces behind the nouveau coffee wave that has since seen Parisians reluctantly accept that there’s more to coffee than their beloved espresso. Coutume roasts their own beans on-site, and their baristas are experts at their craft. The menu offers everything from the usual cappuccinos to more bespoke brews, like their Don Moncho – an espresso with the distinctly fruity and floral notes of wild strawberry. If you find a blend you like, you can buy a bag to take home or savour it throughout other cafés in Paris.
Café Oberkampf is something of an institution in the 11th arrondissement. The café feels like a typical neighbourhood coffee spot; local students brush shoulders and share tables with freelancers banging away at their laptops. The house speciality is a flavourful shakshuka, a traditionally Middle Eastern/North African dish of baked eggs in a spicy tomato sauce, but the menu also features more typical breakfast dishes, including variations on the tartine (bread with butter or jam), granolas and even porridge. The emphasis here is on fresh, local ingredients.
As far as breakfasts in Paris go, Holybelly delivers one of the best. French owners Sarah and Nico spent time in Melbourne where they fell in love with the Australian city’s distinct café culture, drawing inspiration for the first Holybelly in Paris. In 2016, they opened a second site just steps away from the original, redesigning the menus and decor to offer two different experiences. Head to Holybelly 5 for a comforting all-day breakfast menu (including Vegemite), or Holybelly 19, where lush blue velvet and white-marble countertops provide a perfect backdrop for a more sophisticated take on the original outpost, for plates designed to share among friends.
Bibliophiles should not leave Paris without a visit to Le Used Book Café. Upon entry, visitors can be forgiven for confusing the café with a bookstore or library; it has floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, stacked full of international tomes of all ages. Le Used Book Café – which is attached to the famous French concept store Merci – is ridiculously Instagrammable, but it’s also incredibly satisfying as far as breakfasts go. The menu is typically French, but it also features tea and scones, which pair wonderfully with the over 10,000 books available to patrons to borrow.
Have a trendy start to the day at Fragments Espresso Bar
Cafe, French, $$$
Fragments Espresso Bar in Le Marais is warm and welcoming, thanks to the philosophy of owner Youssef Louanjli who, in an interview with Parisian food writer Lisa Klein Michel, explained that the name Fragments comes from his belief that it’s his responsibility to make the fragment of time patrons spend in his café enjoyable. Everything served in the café-bar is proudly home-made and constantly changes depending on the season and availability of produce. Indeed, much of the menu is made on the spot, like their house-made granola. One constant, however, is the coffee; it’s dependably good (Coutume supplies some of the beans) and served all day.
Head to Marcelle to kick-start your health and wellness
Cafe, Contemporary, $$$
A stone’s throw from the bustling rue Étienne Marcel is Marcelle, a bright, airy café in the 1st arrondissement. Healthy options fill out the breakfast menu, which includes several vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free dishes, such as granola with house-made almond milk. Notably, Marcelle is one of the only cafés in Paris that does a decent banana bread. Meals here are light, though satisfying, and the café itself is pretty, with white walls, subway tiles, rattan light fittings and raw wood creating an interior that always feels somewhat springlike, even in the middle of Paris’s frequent grey, wet winters.
While it took a bit of time for Parisians to get used to the idea of mixing sweet and savoury in the same dish, they did, and today, Pancake Sisters is always full. The café offers American-style pancakes with traditional sweet toppings (such as maple syrup or Nutella), alongside the daily-changing savoury options, such as the Panster Madame with charcuterie, melted cheese, cream cheese, organic fried egg and a side salad. The weekend brunch menu is a very filling set menu that includes fresh juice, two pancakes piled with bacon and scrambled eggs, granola and a stack of three sweet pancakes – and that’s the small option.
Delight in ‘fast’ breakfast food at Frenchie To Go
Food Stall, French
Frenchie To Go owner Greg Marchand is a darling of the French food scene and is regularly called le prince de la pop food (the prince of popular food). After opening two successful venues – the Frenchie restaurant and Frenchie Bar à Vins – Marchand started the unapologetically New Yorkais Frenchie To Go. This is American fast food with a French twist; everything is made in-house and sourced with close attention to freshness, quality and flavour. Until 11.30am, Frenchie To Go serves an American-style breakfast consisting of speciality coffees, English muffins, pancakes, and bacon and eggs served with scones, baked beans and mushrooms.
Down a narrow street in Saint-Germain-des-Prés is Eggs & Co., a restaurant dedicated to eggs (though you’d never guess from the name). The decor is themed on chickens, creating a fun atmosphere. The staff is incredibly welcoming and quick to explain the menu options. You’ll find over 30 meals, including fried eggs and eggs en cocotte, as well as quiches and omelettes. The restaurant opens at 10am, and on weekends, there’s a line of local people and tourists alike outside. If you’re keen, come early.
For sweet brunches piled high, try Hardware Société Paris
Restaurant, Cafe, French, Australian, $$$
Another Australian export, the cult Melbourne café Hardware Société opened its first international outpost in Paris’s Montmartre at 10 rue Lamarck. Subtle Australian accents are dotted throughout, from the cookbooks to the occasional Aussie treats that appear on the menu. Like any true Aussie café, the owners are experts at both coffee and brunch. The fried brioche is always a good choice with toppings constantly changing though always surprising. Typical brunch options are also available, and no less impressive than the sweet, like their now-famous poached eggs with black pudding crumble.