French Bread Vocabulary

You can’t go to France and not enjoy a French baguette. In this article, we’ll study all the French vocabulary related to bread, the different French bread types and other useful info for when you go to “la boulangerie”

1 – French Bread Vocabulary

There are many French bread specialities in France, with different flours, ingredients and shapes. Definitely much more than I can list here!

It’s very common to ask for only half of a baguette: une demi baguette s’il vous plaît. However it usually only apply to the regular baguette or le pain (not to other bread specialties, although it really depends on each bakery’s habits and also the size of the bread)

You may also ask the baker to slice your bigger loaf of bread: “pouvez-vous trancher ce pain s’il vous plaît” ? They have a machine for it, so it’s no problem at all. If they refuse it means the bread doesn’t fit in their machine.

For more info about la baguette, check out Wikipedia. You may also enjoy my article about the French baguette where I’ll explain why you should not order just “une baguette” in France!

2 – Baguette Type French Breads

  1. Une baguette – typical French bread loaf
  2. Un pain – bigger than the baguette
  3. Une ficelle – like a baguette but smaller and/or thinner. It’s also called “une flûte”
  4. Un bâtard – bigger than the baguette, but smaller than le pain (yes, the name means “bastard”… because it’s a mix between une baguette and un pain!). It’s also sometimes called “une flûte”… so it’s confusing…
  5. Une demi-baguette – you can ask only for half a baguette
  6. Une baguette sarmentine – French loaf with 4 ends (quatre croûtons – see picture above)
  7. Une baguette viennoise – Sweet baguette with chocolate or nuts. Much smaller and definitely sweet
french bread vocabulary
Here is “un épis” – when you tear it up, you get individual loaves.

3 – Other Types of French Breads

  1. Un pain rond – a round loaf of French bread
  2. Un pain complet – whole wheat French bread
  3. Un pain de seigle – rye bread (typically served with oysters)
  4. Un pain aux graines – French bread loaf with whole pieces of seeds
  5. Un pain aux lardons, aux olives – French bread loaf with bacon, olives…
  6. Un épis – French loaf of bread you can tear-up and then you get individual loaves
  7. Le pain de mie – typical sandwich bread – you can buy some at the bakery but there will be a larger selection at the supermarket
  8. There are many, many more fresh French breads named according to the shape, ingredients, type of flour, way it was prepared…

4 – What is “Une Biscotte” in French?

“Une biscotte” is a dry sort of bread which almost any French home has, in case you run out of fresh French bread! “Les biscottes” are also a common French breakfast food. You buy them at the supermarket in France.

what french eat breakfast in France

5 – Important French Bread Vocabulary

  1. La mie – the white part of the bread
  2. La croûte – the crust, the crunchy part
  3. Le croûton – favorite baguette part for many French people: the very end, with all the crust!
The best croissants ever! At "La Fournée" bakery, in Paimpol!
The best croissants ever! At “La Fournée” bakery, in Paimpol!

6 – Sweet French Bread Specialities

  1. Les viennoiseries – sweet French bread specialities such as croissants etc…
  2. Un croissant – croissant
  3. Un pain au chocolat – chocolate croissant
  4. Un pain au raisin – round pastry with cream and raisins
  5. Une brioche – sweet and fluffy sweet bread
  6. Un chausson – filled with apples or chocolate…
  7. Un pain au lait – close to the brioche but yet different
  8. There are many more… un palmier, un beignet, un sacristain… and many local specialities as well!

7 – What is the Difference Between Une Boulangerie and Une Pâtisserie

A lot of French boutiques combine both specialities : une boulangerie-pâtisserie. But it’s not always the case.

  1. Une boulangerie serves bread specialities: des baguettes, all sorts of bread, including the sweet kind, les viennoiseries.
  2. Une pâtisserie serves cakes.

Voilà – you know all about French bread and will know what to order on your next trip to France.

I now invite you to read Florence’s article about the French Pastry Vocabulary.