Living in France daily dilemmas: A croissant or a pain au chocolat?

It's a decision that people in France have to make each morning (or at least we do) but which French pastry do our readers prefer?

Living in France daily dilemmas: A croissant or a pain au chocolat?
Photo: AFP

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


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.

READ ALSO French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat v chocolatine

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.

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French baker given a legal warning after refusing to take a day off

A young baker in a wealthy suburb of Paris has been given a legal warning after he refused to close his boulangerie for one day a week, as is required by French law.

French baker given a legal warning after refusing to take a day off
Bakeries must by law close for one day a week. Photo: Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP

Romaric Demée, the young business owner, admitted he was knowingly breaking the law by keeping his shop in the suburb of Nanterre open seven days a week.

He has been given a month to inform the court of his chosen closing day. If he misses this deadline, he will be given a €1,000 fine per day, as well as for each day the closure is not respected.

“It’s unfair competition,” Tarek Rouin, the owner of a neighbouring boulangerie, told French newspaper Le Parisien.

The neighbourhood’s boulangeries had regular meetings, he said, to agree which days each of them should close. “I take Friday off, another colleague closes on Monday . . . But Romaric has never wanted to get involved.”

Demée told Le Parisien: “Corner shops and petrol stations are allowed to open every day of the week. We must be the only profession which is forced to lose a whole day’s earnings per week.”

READ ALSO: Should French shops stay closed on a Sunday?

The issue of whether shops should stay closed on Sundays has proven quite controversial in France.

In recent years things have been changing, especially in big cities, where you will always find something open on a Sunday.

READ ALSO: Paris department stores finally open on Sundays

In 2017, François Hollande chipped away at France’s laws with the creation of special international tourism zones where shops could operate on Sundays.

Baguette consumption shot up during France’s first lockdown in the spring, leading the labour ministry to approve a special waiver allowing bakeries to remain open seven days a week to keep up with demand.