Famous French Bread Names and How to Avoid Mispronouncing them

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May 24, 2022

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France is world renowned for its food and wine culture. Therefore it should come as no surprise that they are arguably the best at bread too. 

It’s important to know the different varieties of French breads available, and how to correctly pronounce their names. That way, you can blend in like a true local next time you’re at a French boulangerie. So keep reading if you’d like to sound like a true French bread connaisseur.

Famous French Bread Names

The Importance of Bread in France

An estimated 83 percent of French people eat bread everyday, making a staggering 58kg of bread consumed per person each year. It’s also estimated that 10 billion baguettes are eaten every year in France alone! No one consumes bread quite like the French.

France takes its bread very seriously. So much so that in 1993, a law known as Le Décret Pain was passed. This law sets out very clear and specific criteria for how baguettes are made and the ingredients that must be used. To be considered a true baguette, boulangers must follow this law to the letter. 

Bread is such an important part of French culture that the word copain, meaning ‘friend,’ comes from the Latin phrase cum pane, meaning ‘with bread.’ In other words, the person you share bread with is your friend. In France, there is even a Patron Saint for bread - St Honoré, who is celebrated every year on the 16th of May. 

If you are yet to be convinced of the importance of bread to the French, maybe this will help you. Each year, the Grand Prix de la Baguette is held in Paris. In it, Parisien bakers compete for the title and prestige of the best boulanger of the year, with the honour of supplying the French President with bread for the year. It’s almost a national sport! Amazing, right!? 

Now onto the bread!

The different types of bread and how to pronounce them in French

As previously stated, there is a wide variety of bread in France. Most of the breads listed below are in fact traditional breads, however some are pastries, otherwise known as viennoiseries, and are often confused as bread. 

La baguette 

Pronunciation: la-buh-get

Arguably the most famous and quintessentially French bread there is. The baguette is a long, thin loaf of bread. It must have a tough, golden-brown crust and a soft, yet chewy inside. It should weigh approximately 250gm and be 65cm in length once baked. It gets its name from its baton-like shape.

La baguette

Via Pixabay

La brioche

Pronunciation: la-bree-osh

A brioche is a sweet pastry bread with a fluffy texture. It’s not technically a bread; it’s a viennoiserie, meaning it’s made from leavened yeast dough, similar to a croissant. It uses all the usual ingredients to make a bread, like yeast and butter, but you need a lot of eggs and butter to make a brioche. This soft, golden, bread is perfect for French Toast.

La brioche

Via Pixabay

La boule de pain

Pronunciation: la-bool-de-pan

A Boule de Pain is a round bread, with a very similar taste and texture to the baguette. It has a crunchy crust and a soft, chewy inside. This bread is usually served with the main meals, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is also able to last a few days without becoming too hard or stale.

La boule de pain

Via Pixabay

Le croissant 

Pronunciation: le-kwa-son 

Known across the world as the breakfast of choice for the French, people often mistake croissants as bread, as they are a yeast leavened dough, but they are in fact a viennoiserie. They are lighter, more airy, and have a higher fat content than bread. The dough is layered with butter. It is rolled and folded a number of times before baking, giving it the crispy, yet chewy layers we all know and love. Eat them for breakfast or at any time of the day as a snack.

Le croissant

Via Pixabay

La ficelle

Pronunciation: la-fee-sell

A ficelle, while similar looking to a baguette, is not the same thing. A ficelle is thinner, with a much crunchier outer crust and a soft center. The word itself literally means ‘string’ in English. They are often made with sourdough. This is a classy bread, usually eaten with an expensive or special meal.

La faluche

Pronunciation: la-fa-lu-shh

A faluche is a loaf of white bread. It is well known as a breakfast bread in France, often eaten with butter or jam, but in reality you can pair almost anything with this bread.  It has an unusual circular shape, resembling a saucer.

La faluche

Via Pixabay

La fougasse

Pronunciation: la-fu-gas

Fougasse has a lot in common with modern pizza and focaccia. It is a bread made with a variety of herbs and herb flavours,  including sage, thyme, olive, rosemary and sun dried tomatoes. It can sometimes be served with cheese on top, as well as anchovies and bacon. This bread is best served warm.

La fougasse

Via Pixabay

Le pain à l’ail

Pronunciation: le-pan-a-lie

Pain à l’ail is a garlic bread. The amount of garlic used is entirely up to the person making it, as there are a variety of different recipes available to make this bread. The one thing all the recipes have in common is that you are definitely going to have garlic breath after eating this bread! This is a very popular bread that traditionally pairs well with any pasta dish.

Le pain à l’ail

Via Pixabay

Le pain brié

Pronunciation: le-pan-bre-ay

Pain Brié, while traditionally made with the same ingredients as bread, has a very different texture to most other breads. This bread is kneaded for much longer prior to baking than other breads, giving it a much denser texture. This makes le pain brié the perfect bread to dip into soups or sauces.

Le pain brié

Via Pixabay

Le pain de campagne

Pronunciation: le-pan-de-cam-pan-ye

Pain de campagne is a sourdough bread. It has a hard crust, which is often scored, and a dense center. It most often comes as a round loaf. This is a great bread for lunch and dinner, and goes well with soups. It also works well as sandwich bread.

Le pain de campagne

Via Pixabay

Le pain au chocolat 

Pronunciation: le-pan-oh-cho-co-la 

Pain au chocolat is another viennoiserie or pastry that is often confused as bread. It is a cube shaped pastry made from yeast leavened dough with two pieces of dark chocolate in the center. It has a similar texture to the croissant. This makes a delicious breakfast or snack with coffee.

Le pain au chocolat

Le pain complet

Pronunciation: le-pan-com-plé

Pain complet is a whole wheat, or wholemeal bread. It is made from flour that has not had the outer layers of its grains removed. In other words, it's brown bread, and is considered one of the healthiest types of bread.

Le pain complet

Via Pixabay

Le pain couronne

Pronunciation: le-pan-core-on  

This rather special looking bread is made in a circular shape. It often resembles a wreath. It’s a sweet bread, perfect for breakfast, and is often accompanied with a morning coffee.

Le cramique

Pronunciation: le-cra-mi-que

A cramique is a raison bread. It has a similar taste and texture to the brioche, so it’s a sweet bread that has a soft and fluffy texture. This is a popular bread choice for breakfast. It is often served with butter or jam.

Le cramique

Via Pixabay

Le pain d’épices

Pronunciation: le-pan-de-piece

Pain d’épices is a bread made with a variety of different spices. It’s often compared to gingerbread, but isn’t quite the same thing. It is traditionally made with rye flour, honey, and spices such as aniseed, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. It is often sold as a loaf. 

Le pain d’épices

Via Pixabay

Le pain de mie

Pronunciation: le-pan-de-mi

Pain de mie is a soft, fine grained and thin crusted bread. It can be white or brown. It is best known as being similar to sandwich bread, although it is sweeter than most breads. It is mostly sold as a sliced and packaged loaf. It’s perfect for sandwiches or toast.

Le pain de mie

Via Pixabay

La miche

Pronunciation: la-mi-shh 

This bread is similar to sourdough, however it is made from a combination of different types of flours. Most commonly it is made with whole wheat or rye grains, giving it a darker colour and a higher fibre content. It's often sold as a large round loaf.

La miche

Via Pixabay

Le pain aux noix

Pronunciation: le-pan-oh-ne-wa 

Pain aux noix is a whole grain loaf of bread made with walnuts. It can be a dark or golden color and is typically sold as a loaf. It can be eaten with either sweet or savoury spreads. It’s perhaps best paired with cheese and charcuterie. 

Le pain aux noix

Via Pixabay

Le pain de seigle

Pronunciation: le-pan-de-se-egg-le 

Pain de seigle is rye bread. It ranges in color from light to very dark, depending on the proportion of rye and flour used. It is a denser bread than most and has a stronger flavour. It is often sold as a round loaf, but can come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Le pain de seigle

Via Pixabay

Le pain au son

Pronunciation: le-pan-oh-son

The pain au son is a whole grain bread. It has a dark brown color due to the high amount of bran in it. This also gives it its distinct taste, as well as its much higher fibre content. This bread is well known to assist with better digestive health. It is typically sold in smaller loaves and best enjoyed with a healthy meal or soup.

Le pain au son

We hope you enjoyed today’s journey into the world of French bread. Next time you step foot into a boulangerie, you’ll be ready to order your bread with the pronunciation of a true French bread connaisseur.

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