Over the next few days The Local will be running a fun poll on some of the daily dilemmas that living in France throws up, and we started at the beginning – with breakfast.
Hundreds voted in our poll on Twitter and Facebook to find the most popular breakfast item and in the end the luxurious pain au chocolat secured itself a narrow but clear victory.
READ ALSO Five things to know about the croissant
Living in France: Daily dilemmas. It can be a stressful business living in France, all those high level decisions to be made, so which would you opt for at breakfast?
— The Local France (@TheLocalFrance) July 16, 2019
Comments of support for the winning pastry included Cassien Guier, who wrote: “Pain au chocolat for sure. But sometimes nothing replaces a good buttery croissant.”
Sweet toothed-reader Marc Lassort commented: “I would dip two chocolatines every morning in my hot chocolate. Yummy.”
While Joanna Milone Lopez came up with a sensible compromise: “One of each. Both too good to choose one.”
But there were other readers who added their own breakfast suggestions – pain au raisin, brioche or even a British classic… bacon.
The croissant is so ubiquitous in France that is has become an unofficial symbol of the country, but despite that it is not actually French in origin.
The curved pastry was first introduced in Austria as a kipfel and became popular in France from the 17th century onwards, making its first appearance in the French dictionary in 1863.
The Austrian connection is why pastries in France are collectively referred to as viennoiserie (after Vienna).
The word croissant simply means crescent in French (because of the pastry's shape) and is widely used for non-patisserie items as well.
In Islamic countries the Red Cross is known as the Croissant Rouge (red crescent) but the humanitarian organisation has nothing to do with the delicious buttery pastries.
The pain au chocolat is thought to be a slightly later twist on the popular croissant.
But it's only a pain au chocolat if you are in northern France – people in the south west (and Canada) refer to it as a chocolatine and asking for a pain au chocolat in some places in the south west is likely to get you a slice of bread with Nutella.
Meanwhile in Belgium it is sometimes known as a croque au chocolat while in some parts of Switzerland they refer to it as a croissant au chocolat.
Originally both croissants and pain au chocolat were made of a bread dough similar to brioche, before evolving to the flaky pastry used today.