While the standard first meal of the day in France is a big cup of coffee and perhaps a croissant or slice of toast with jam, restaurants in the capital have been catching on to the creative breakfast trend. From casual American-style diners to all-day brunch joints where you can choose between classics like eggs Benedict and hip twists on old standbys, these are 10 of the best places for breakfast in Paris.
The Hardware Société
Launched by a friendly couple from Melbourne, Australia, this breakfast, brunch, and coffee restaurant in Montmartre has gained legions of fans for its delicious, beautifully presented food and coffee. Enjoy all-day breakfast and brunch items such as the pork belly and fried eggs, or the ultra-gourmet crab and langoustine Benedict.
Craving something sweet? The Hardware Société's brioche French toast specials are delicious and indulgent. One example from a recent menu: fried brioche with cardamon-poached apricots, mascarpone cheese, lemon sablé, and fresh raspberries.
This wildly popular restaurant serves all-day breakfast classics such as fluffy pancake stacks and hashed browns, but this is no greasy spoon diner. Nestled on a street in close reach of the trendy Canal St-Martin district, Holybelly 5 is a favorite for its throwback Americana ambience and thoughtful, high-quality dishes.
If you're in the mood for pancakes, you're in luck. The savory stack is topped with bacon, a fried egg, and bourbon butter, while fresh fruit and roasted hazelnuts complete the sweet pancakes. Other house specialties include vanilla bean-laden black rice porridge, homemade granola, and artisan bread plates.
The coffee is also excellent here, as it is at other Holybelly Café locations around the city. The spacious dining room seats 100 people, so getting a spot shouldn't be an issue, especially on weekdays.
Breakfast in America
If it's a big stack of American-style pancakes bathed in syrup and butter you're after—preferably accompanied by a simple cup of joe—Breakfast in America is where to go. Inspired by the old-school American diners of old, this unpretentious restaurant in the Marais (there's also a second location in the Latin Quarter) eschews trendy fare in favor of the classics: pancakes, eggs, bacon, waffles, home-fried potatoes, and bagels and cream cheese. It's not surprising when you learn that owner Craig Carlson is an American citizen who transplanted to Paris.
The diner may be classic and unfussy, but that doesn't mean the menu lacks creativity. Witness the odd glory of the restaurant's Red Velvet pancakes (pictured above), an interesting twist on the cake of the same name that gets its flavor and nutrition from beets.
This warm, unpretentious restaurant in the heart of the Montmartre district feels a bit like a rustic bakery and grocery rolled into one. Sit at checkered communal tables to enjoy breakfasts both big and small, from simple coffee, fresh baguettes, and jam to the full "Traveller's Breakfast," a hearty meal comprised of homemade bread, a fried egg, mushrooms, tomatoes, salad, a big glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice, and your choice of sausage or bacon. You can add one of the onsite bakery's pastries (like the pain au raisin, croissants, apple turnovers, and madeleines) to any of the pre-set menus for a small charge.
On weekends, brunch platters include favorites such as smoked salmon and eggs, yogurt and fruit, pastries, and fried potatoes. An added bonus is that most of the ingredients used in the restaurant's dishes are organic.
Lauded by foodies as the place to head for breakfast when you're bored of everyday eggs, pain au chocolat, and avocado toast, Café Méricourtserves all-day brunch that's firmly gourmet. Try the shakshuka, a house specialty, or tuck into a big bowl of homemade muesli.
You can also find more eclectic brunch treats–like a breakfast brioche roll made up of bacon, egg and chili ham, a green eggs and feta dish, and a seven-hour-lamb sandwich—on the menu.
As we mentioned, breakfast isn't considered hugely important in France. It's surprising and refreshing, then, to find a Parisian restaurant dedicated to the art of le petit déjeuner (breakfast). Claus St-Germain-des-Prés is situated in the iconic neighborhood of the same name and is certainly one of the best places for a full and high-quality breakfast in the tourist-heavy area.
The menu is full of homemade dishes inspired by French, English/American, and Nordic cuisines. Choose between set or à la carte menus and treat yourself to huge breakfast bowls, potatoes served alongside smoked salmon, and eggs prepared in more creative ways than you can possibly imagine.
Haven't had your fill? There's also an adjoining delicatessen (épicerie) where you can stock up on jams, mueslis, biscuits, teas, and other items.
This humble eatery and coffee shop situated between the Bastille neighborhood and the Marais is an ideal place to start your day when you plan to explore the medieval and Renaissance-era streets around the right bank. While the menu here is simple, it hits the spot thanks to its delicious dishes, such as the avocado and poached egg toast. The coffee is reputable for its excellence, and if you have a sweet tooth make sure to try the Swedish-style cinnamon buns. Vegans will like the fact that this coffee shop actually caters to them: You can substitute milk for oat or soy in all drinks.
While this much-fussed-about canteen and bakery from a Franco-British couple isn't technically a breakfast place (except on weekends when the full brunch draws hordes of people), it's an excellent spot for a morning scone, coffee, or slice of artisanal cake. The choices here are dizzying, from carrot cake to British-style sticky toffee pudding, rose and lemon cake, and gluten-free polenta loaf.
If a light, sweet breakfast isn't really your speed, hold out for the weekend if you can. Rose Bakery's brunches are among the best in the city and feature favorites such as eggs Benedict, homemade granola and greek yogurt, a variety of breads and cakes, quiches, and freshly-squeezed juices.
Le Pain Quotidien
It may be a chain, but the iconic Belgian eatery and bakery remains one of the best choices in the capital for high-quality breakfast, served until well into the afternoon. The cheerful, broad communal tables offer a relaxed setting for a leisurely first meal. A classic choice here is to order the "Pétit Déjeuner" breakfast platter, which consists of freshly baked breads, a pastry, organic coffee of your choice, freshly squeezed juice, and a variety of delicious sweet spreads and jams. You can add an egg or two for a bit extra.
Healthier and more eclectic options range from the organic scrambled eggs, pesto, chives, and fresh tomato on toast to the chia pudding with coconut, fresh blueberries, strawberries, dark chocolate, and "flowerola." You can see a menu in English here.
There are several locations around Paris, including in the Marais district on Rue des Archives and on Rue des Martyrs.
For late risers who prefer breakfast at around noon, consider a weekend stop at this beloved Marais restaurant owned by the entrepreneurial Big Mamma group. The Neapolitan-style eatery that specializes in wood-fired pizza also serves some truly delicious brunch, from the buffalo ricotta pancakes to the French toast adorned with fresh raspberries and mascarpone.
Do be aware that reservations are not accepted at BigLove and long lines are the norm, especially on weekends. Arrive at least 10 to 15 minutes before opening time to get a seat.