When I first moved to England, I often heard people ordering French toast in the cafe next to my flat - but for years, I had no idea what it was! The silly thing was that all that time I was making myself French toast for breakfast or pudding at least twice a week - I'd eaten the dish all my life, but never heard its English name before. In France, we call this delicious treat 'pain perdu' or 'lost bread', because it's a great way to salvage stale bread - you simply soak the slices in milk, sugar and beaten eggs and then fry them in butter for a sweet, cakey treat.
Whatever you call it, French toast has spread across the world and is now popular from Chicago to Hong Kong. In fact, the 28th of November is International French Toast Day! Since pain perdu is such a quintessentially French breakfast dish, I thought I'd pick out some of my favourite places to eat breakfast in Paris. Just remember to ask for your French toast in French, not English!
French toast served simply, with icing sugar
La Pâtisserie by Cyril Lignac, 24 Rue Paul Bert
If you've got a sweet tooth (and on French Toast Day, you need one!), this is the perfect place for a breakfast that feels more like a British afternoon tea - there are savoury options on offer, but the pâtisserie is the star of the show. As a Northerner, I love going for the traditional Breton kouign amann - and now it's been featured on The Great British Bake Off (which I wrote about
previously) I expect I won't be the only one!
Les Enfants Perdus, 9 rue des Récollets
Ignore the stark restaurant space at Les Enfants Perdus and head straight through to the back, where a beautiful white room has been filled with benches and cushions to make the perfect weekend brunch spot. You can start your weekend off perfectly with three seasonal platters - drinks and viennoiseries, eggs, salmon and salad, and finally charcuterie, cheese and soup. Don't plan on having room left to eat anything else later that day!
Café de Flore, a Paris institution
Café de Flore, 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain
Most of us have a preconceived idea of what breakfast on the Boulevard Saint-Germain ought to be like, and Café de Flore really doesn't disappoint. Classic Parisian style combines with very un-Parisian service to create the perfect spot for an elegant bite to eat, whether you fancy a hearty omelette or a simple pastry.
Un Dimanche à Paris, 4-6-8 Cour du Commerce Saint André
Sunday morning at Un Dimanche à Paris is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, for the sake of both your wallet and your waistband! This chocolate-themed concept store offers one of Paris' most spectacular brunches, with a cocoa Kir royale when you arrive and mouth-watering treats like foie gras marbled with Venezuelan chocolate to follow. It's not cheap - the full menu costs €54 - but you won't find a more decadent breakfast anywhere in Paris.
The idea of breakfast in Paris still seems wonderfully exotic - particularly when you're in England and it's raining! - but with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, you can get to Calais in just 35 minutes and be in Paris long before lunchtime. It's so lovely to be able to visit for a day or two without the complications and cost of a long trip. So next time you're craving some French toast, why not hop across the Channel to enjoy the real thing?
Camembert French Toast presentation © waferboard
French Toast © Ralph Daily
Café de Flore Paris © sanfamedia.com