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Learn All About the Boulangerie and Pâtisserie

Updated February 9, 2024

You probably already know that boulangerie and pâtisserie are the cornerstones of French baking. But what exactly are they, what do they offer, and how do they delight your senses?

The meaning of boulangerie is French for bakery, while pâtisserie’s meaning is twofold. It refers to the shop selling French pastries and cakes, as well as to the pastries themselves. There are even boulangerie-pâtisserie shops where you can enjoy all sorts of pastries and bread all in one place!

Ready to find out more? Let’s go! And if you want to master your French, we’ve got a whole list of French language resources available for you to check out for free!

Welcome to the boulangerie 

Pronouncing boulangerie is easy if you split it into three syllables: bou [bu] + lange [lɑ̃ʒ] + rie [ʀi]. So, the next time you walk into one, you can say [bulɑ̃ʒəˈʀi] with confidence. And while you’re here, check out our Learn French page for great tips and resources to help you master that perfect accent.

Want to know a curious fact? In France, bakeries must make their own bread on-site to merit the name “boulangerie.” While they may also sell pastries, the main food item found here is traditional French bread, or pain [pɛ̃], of which the baguette [ba.ɡɛt] is easily the most popular variety.

Discover some other items you can buy in a boulangerie, and their meaning:

  • Pain suisse [pɛ̃ sɥis] — a folded pastry filled with vanilla cream and chocolate chips.

  • Macaron [makaˈʀɔ̃] — a small sandwich cookie filled with buttercream or jam.

A boulangerie requires a boulanger [bulɑ̃ˈʒe], meaning baker, to operate. This skilled food craftsman knows the myriad processes involved in baking with dough to create delicious French loaves of different shapes and sizes.   

Here are a couple more terms deriving from the French word for bakery: 

  • Boulange [buˈlɑ̃ʒ] — the craft of baking.

  • Boulangère [bulɑ̃ˈʒɛʀ] — a female baker, which originally meant a baker’s wife.

Next stop, the pâtisserie

Now that we know the answer to What is a pâtisserie?, we’re ready to pronounce this French word for pastry shop: pâ [pɑ] + ti [ti] + sserie [səˈʀi]. The plural pâtisseries sounds identical to the singular form [pɑtisəˈʀi]. Easy, right?

This staple of French culinary craftsmanship must employ a licensed maître pâtissier [ˈmɛtʀ pɑtiˈsje] (master pastry chef) at its premises. Many pastries are so complex that only a well-trained hand can create them to perfection.

These are some delicious treats you’ll find in a pâtisserie, and their definition:

  • Mille-feuille [mil fœj] — a three-layer dessert made with cream and puff pastry, normally topped with white icing and chocolate in a swirl pattern. 
  • Petits fours [pəˈti fuʀ] — a soft cake layered with raspberry jam and buttercream.

  • Bavarois [bavaʀˈwa] — a sweet, thick custard dessert. 
May I have one of each?
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

What about viennoiserie?  

We’ve established the meanings of pâtisserie and boulangerie, but what is viennoiserie? Pronounced [vjɛnwazəˈʀi], the term refers to baked goods made in a similar way to bread and pastries but with added ingredients. Sucre [sykʀ] (sugar) and beurre [bœʀ] (butter) create richer, flakier pastries that are closer to the croissant [kʀwaˈsɑ̃].

Our top picks from the mouth-watering viennoiserie selection are:

  • Brioche [bʀiˈjɔʃ] — a light and fluffy type of bread.

  • Financier ​[finɑ̃ˈsje] — an almond cake shaped like a gold bar.

Ready for a taste test? 

Congratulations! Now that you’ve learned the French word for pastry, the French word for bakery, and what sets them apart, are you ready to find out what gets your taste buds going? We know we are!

If you’re serious about learning French, download the Fluent Forever app to get started. You can also boost your progress with a personal French language coach.

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