Dipping bread in coffee … Five strange things French people do with their bread

Bread is the staple of French food – literally its bread and butter! Besides eating it with absolutely everything and for every meal, French people do weird things with their bread. Here are the top five…

Eat it with everything
French people love their bread so much that they eat it at every meal, with literally everything. The French start their day with bread, eating it for breakfast. Then for lunch and dinner, they will eat it with every course of their meal, from their vegetable starter, to their cheese (yes – see below). Many people eat bread with everything, including with starchy food. They are also very likely to eat some bread for “goûter” (4pm snack), with a piece of cheese, charcuterie, or chocolate.

Dip it in their coffee
Almost all French people have bread for breakfast. Toasted or not, it is eaten with butter and/or jam, honey or chocolate spread, and dipped into their mug of coffee. Although this can be a bit messy with crumbles of bread falling into the coffee and drops of coffee falling on the table, the French love it.

Eat it with cheese
Eating cheese with bread is actually the way to eat cheese in France. With each bite of cheese, they have a bite of bread (and now and then a sip of red wine), or simply put a slice of cheese on top of a slice of bread and eat the two at the same time – just forget the crackers!
Use it to clean their plates
At the end of every meal, French people use a piece of bread to clean their plate, thus making it ready for the next course. It’s also a great way to make the delicious dish last a bit longer – especially if it had sauce! This is called “saucer son assiette” (literally “to sauce one’s plate”).

Nibble it in the street
It is not unusual (nor frowned upon) to see French people nibbling the end of their bread or baguette (called “crouton” or “quignon” according to the regions) in the street – bread is so irresistible when it’s still hot and crunchy, coming straight out of the oven, that it is a true challenge to wait until getting back home to start eating it.

Language buddy

Pain = bread
Baguette = baguette
Croûton or quignon = the end of the bread
Boulangerie = bakery
Saucer son assiette = to mop up one’s plate
Entrée = starter
Plat principal = main course
Fromage = cheese
Dessert = dessert

Want to know more about French bread? Read our definitive guides about bread and baguette and going to a French bakery.