Paris Series: Breakfast at Paul

Ooops. I said that yesterday’s blog entry was my last on Paris. Well, I found a few more photos I missed and this means you gotta bear with another Paris blog today.

Never much of bread fan, I found myself falling in love with Parisian bread. Everywhere I go in Paris, I inevitably come across the chain of bakeries called Paul. They seem to be as prevalent in Paris as McDonalds and Starbucks in North America.

They have bakeries of every size. They have small counters at train stations and there are some full fledge bakeries. They are always busy and filled with a lot of people. There was one Paul bakery that had lines that snaked out the door. Their bread and pastry looked so tasty — the variety is bewildering.

The morning I left Paris, I stopped by the Paul at the Gare du Nord station. The one thing that I remember was that there were a lot of young gypsy girls asking me if I speak English. i always sternly tell me “No, I don’t speak English”. πŸ™‚ Does anyone know what they really want? Are they just asking for money?


This Paul outlet is just a small counter which is more than good enough for me. The board list a bunch of stuff they sell. I can’t tell what is what except for the Pains — that’s bread for French. See? I did learn some French here. πŸ™‚ BTW, Paul was founded 120 years ago, believe it or not.


My fav? The baguette. There are so much I learn about the humble baguette. Did you know why baguettes are shaped the way they are? Well, apparently there is a law in France that prohibits bakeries from working before 4am. This makes it impossible to make enough bread in time for breakfasts. The long slender baguette bakes faster than the rounder bread and thus it became what it is today. Does this story sound credible?

One weird thing. When I got the baguette, I asked the staff to cut it up. The staff asked me how many pieces I wanted it … and I said five or six. She responded, “huh? you want two or three?”. “No,” I said, “I want five pieces”. She sounded very surprised. Is it abnormal to have baguettes cut into so many smaller pieces?


I also bought this tasty looking piece of pastry. I am sure there’s a nice sounding name to it but I just don’t care to learn the name. It was nice … all pastries in France is nice.


I got myself a “coffee with milk” to wash it down. It was such a small cup. I recall someone telling me that “coffee” does not come in cup sizes like what we’re used to in Canada.


My recommendation … when in Paris, get some bread from Paul’s. You must absolutely try it or else you can’t say you’ve really been to Paris. It’s like an European visiting the US without having stop by Starbucks or grab a Big Mac from Mickey D. πŸ™‚

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  1. cocoa

    I love French pastries and bread. yummy…

  2. Chubbypanda

    “It was nice … all pastries in France is nice.”

    That’s such a great line. So true.

  3. Ed Lau

    The French don’t really eat like we do in North America. Heck, all of Europe, for that matter.

    The coffee might be tiny but it’s so damn rich and good in France.

  4. Frank Kanu

    ItÒ€ℒs quite a few years ago that I was in France the last time, but I recall that at the youth hostels I stayed at the baguettes got cut into three pieces.

    Someone also told me that every baker cuts the top of baguettes in their own way – that way when you see a baguette you know who made it…

  5. MammaViv

    re: gypsy girls
    These gypsy girls are well known in europe, especially in Italy. They work usually in groups of 3-5 and will try to distract you while unknowingly, some hands are going through your pockets and bags looking for valuables to steal. Yep…they are professional thieves! I hope they didn’t manage to steal anything from you. Why can’t they just get a job, you’d think!

  6. Rukya, London

    We have PAUL bakeries here in London too. I suppose it’s a growing chain. I bet the bread at PAUL here aren’t nearly as good those in Paris.

  7. Ben

    Hi MammaViv: No wonder there are so many gypsy girls working in a group. Nope, I did not lose anything at all.

    Hi Rukya: You’re still around! πŸ™‚ Oh, I did not notice the PAULs in London but did see one in Heathrow. I saw that they serve different stuff … no fresh bread and more of sandwiches.

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