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For many people, living in Paris (or just visiting) conjures up visions of buying fresh baguettes and croissants every morning at the local “boulangerie.” But those delightful bakeries offer so much more than breakfast breads! They can also serve as a Cheapo-friendly lunchtime resource!
Here’s our guide to the boulangerie’s “other” baked goods, thinking beyond the baguette…
More “pain,” all gain
First off, there is much more to French bread (“pain”) than the baguette.
I’m a bit partial to the “tradition,” which is much softer than a baguette and tastes a little like sourdough. There are also “boules,” or round breads, and most boulangeries now offer whole-grain options. You’ll be hard-pressed to find any loaf of French bread that costs more than €2.
Similarly, it’s time to branch out from the standard croissant. Go for broke on the calorie-meter with a “pain au chocolat”, often mistakenly called a “chocolate croissant” in the U.S. (The word “croissant” implies a crescent shape, whereas a “pain au chocolat” tends to be somewhat square.)
Though not as extensive as a “patisserie” (a bakery that specializes in pastries), boulangeries offer a full range of “tartes” and other small pastries to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Lunch to go: Baguette sandwiches, quiches, and more
The boulangerie is a great place to pick up a quick lunch to eat on the go or bring to a picnic.
Small baguette sandwiches are reasonably-priced (around €3-4). A “jambon buerre” (ham with butter) is a pretty standard French option, although you’ll also find sandwiches with “thon” (tuna), “poulet” (chicken), “ouef” (egg), and more. When the shopkeeper asks if you’d like your sandwich “avec salade,” she wants to know if you’d like one with lettuce and tomato or just the meat.
Other lunch options range from quiche to mini pizza to “croque monsieur” (a ham sandwich with cheese baked on the outside), depending on the bakery.
Formule: Make the most of your lunch money
Most boulangeries offer a “formule,” a lunch special that includes a sandwich, a dessert, and a drink. The price depends on the location and sometimes on the type of sandwich you order. Expect to pay between €5-7 for the meal.
As with all shops in France, the majority of boulangeries will be closed on Sundays, except for in highly touristed areas. If you do find a boulangerie you like open on Sunday, odds are it will be closed if you try to return on Monday.
Do you have a favorite boulangerie in Paris? Or a French bread product you just can’t live without? Tell us about it in the comments section.