44 fun French croissant facts for foodies and Francophiles

Dive into the fascinating world of French croissants. 44 interesting, unusual and random croissant facts. Everything you didn’t know you want to know.

By Annie André ⦿ updated January 10, 2024  
photo of a lone croissant on a plate
photo of a lone croissant on a plate

Everyone loves French croissants, but how much do you know about them?

From its Viennese origins to the wacky things people do with croissants, here are 44 interesting, unusual, and random French croissant facts:

Plus a primer on how to order a croissant at a French bakery. 

croissant bag and croissant
Croissants usually come in little paper bags in France, which the salespeople twist at the corners to seal the bag.

My mission was to learn everything I could about the coveted French Croissant:

Someone once asked me why croissants in France taste so good. The question piqued my curiosity. 

Despite living in France and having easy access to freshly baked croissants, thanks to the many bakeries that dot almost every street corner in my area, I knew very little about croissants except:

  • Croissants are baked with lots of butter.
  • Croissants are one of France’s national symbols of pride alongside the Eiffel Tower.

This ignorant bliss about croissants isn’t really all that unusual in France. Most of my French friends don’t know much about croissants either.

But I wanted to know more.

I set out on a mission to learn all I could about the coveted French croissant that tourists adore from near and far, and French people devour for breakfast.

Or do they?

Photo of me, Annie Andre working on computer at a coffee shop
Annie Working heard and researching / © AnnieAndre.com.

French Croissant Facts: My research process:

What started as a small fact-finding passion project turned into this enormous six thousand-word article with 44 fascinating, unusual and random French croissant facts. 

I began by researching and reading everything I could find, including trolling some French forums. I also talked to a few local bakeries and made multiple croissant taste test comparisons from different bakeries. Unfortunately, one croissant au beurre can have as many as 250 calories, so I had to work out extra hard at the gym to work off all those extra calories. 

At a certain point, I had to stop my research because I have other things to do in life, like raise my family and live my life. 44 also happens to be my lucky number, so it was a good stopping point. 

I gathered all my findings and fact-checked my croissant facts to the best of my ability, which took an insane amount of time. I’m talking weeks and hours upon hours of painstaking work every day because there was a plethora of unexpected and contradicting information scattered across various sources. 

You might be interested in reading :

Holy Crepe! What is Candeleur: and why do French people eat crepes on Groundhog day in France?

Croissants Facts: The basics

1) What is a croissant? 

The definition of a croissant, “the pastry” varies depending on the source, but it can also change over time. Compare this definition, which I found in a modern French dictionary, to the one from 1863, which I mentioned above. 

 A leavened puff pastry dough rolled in the shape of a crescent moon.

“Pâtisserie en pâte levée puis feuilletée et roulée en forme de croissant de lune.”

-Larrousse French dictionary

2) What does croissant mean? (and a French homonym)

The word croissant means “crescent” in English, the shape after which the croissant is named, like the crescent moon. But the word croissant has an important homonym in the French language. 

Croissant Homonyms:

The French word Croissant is also a gerund of the verb croître, which means to grow. (A gerund is a noun formed from a verb which refers to an action, process, or state.)

  1. Croissant: To increase, grow or get larger.
    For example : Le nombre croissant de retraités pose des questions sur le système des retraites. (The increasing number of retirees raises questions about the pension system.)
  2. Croissant: Ascending from smallest to largest.
    You’ll often see the word “croissant” on French shopping sites as a way to filter products by price from least to greatest. For example, on Amazon, “Prix: par ordre croissant.” Décroissant would be to sort from most expensive to least expensive. 

Photo of filter Filter options on Amazon

4) How to pronounce the word croissant “like a French person.”

Everyone knows how to say croissant in English, but try saying it in French. It’s almost impossible for most non-native speakers to say it without an accent because the guttural R sound in French doesn’t exist in English and many other languages.  The “T” is also silent. /krwah-sahn/.

Have a listen yourself by clicking on the play button below. 

The First Croissants

5) Who Invented French Croissants?

Kipferl is an Austrian pastry and the precursor to the French croissant
The Austrian Kipfel is the precursor or grandfather to the French croissant. It tastes more like a bread roll.

A really interesting croissant fact is that no one knows who invented the modern-day French croissant recipe, so it’s a tricky question to answer. However, it’s a commonly accepted belief that the croissant is based on the Kipfel or Kipferl, a popular Austrian breakfast staple shaped like a crescent moon, which can be traced to the 13th century, maybe even further back. 

But that’s only half the truth. 

While it may be true that the croissant is an adaptation of the plainer, more bread-like Austrian Kipfer, somewhere along the way, the recipe changed, which gave birth to a buttery, flaky, leavened puff pastry the world now knows as a French croissant. 

You could say that the Kipfel is the grandfather of the croissant. 

Throughout much of central Europe and nearby countries, the Kipferl is known by different names, usually crescent or twist in that country’s language.

  • KIPFEL and KIPFERL: Austria and Germany
  • CHIFLA: Romania
  • KIFLI: Hungary
  • KIFLA: Serbo-Croatian
  • GIPFEL: Swiss German (the Swiss Gipfel tastes more like a croissant than a Kipfel, but the names are very similar)

5) Before 1849, no one knew what a “croissant” the pastry was. 

What’s fascinating to me is most people don’t realize that before the 1850s, “croissants” as we know them today didn’t exist in French food culture, in name or as a pastry.

The earliest “known” written reference to a crescent-shaped pastry called a “croissant” is in a book published in 1853 titled  “Des Substances Alimentaires Et Des Moyens de Les Améliorer, de Les Conserver,” which described croissants as a “bread of fantasy and luxury.” But that was a sort of science cookbook. 

The first sign that the croissant was officially on its way to becoming a part of French culture and the French language was when the term “croissant” popped up in a dictionary.  This occurred in the 1863 edition of the French dictionary Littré, 10 years after it was first mentioned in a French cookbook. 

The Littré defined a croissant as “a Muffin or cupcake in the shape of a crescent” « Petit pain ou petit gâteau qui a la forme d’un croissant.» 

It’s important to note that this first definition of the croissant differs from today’s definition because, other than its crescent shape, its characteristics were different than today’s croissant. It was more brioche-like than a puff pastry.

6) How did the Kipferls become a French Croissants?

Mr Zang from Vienna is the man who brought the croissant to Paris and France. This is his bakery in Paris

August Zang (1807 – 1888) is credited with popularizing the Kipfer in France: The grandfather of the croissant.

In 1838, August Zang, an Austrian artillery officer, journalist and entrepreneur from Vienna, opened an upscale Viennese bakery in Paris at 92, Rue de Richelieu, where he sold bread and pastries from his homeland. 

August Zang didn’t invent the Kipfel, but he is credited with popularizing the Kipfel and other Viennese bread and pastries from his homeland thanks to his knack for marketing.

Photo of August Zang, who opened a viennoiserie in Paris and popularized the Kipfel which became the croissant

He created newspaper ads and elaborate window displays that attracted wealthy Parisians who flocked to his bakery, searching for his Viennese bread and pastries. They were flakier and moister than what French people were accustomed to at the time, thanks to his patented Viennese steam oven, which became a standard in French bakeries.

Then, around 1849, ten years after Zang introduced the Austrian Kipfel to France, censorship was lifted in Austria, so he returned to Vienna to found Die Presse, a daily newspaper that still exists today.

Despite his short 10-year stint running his bakery in France, August Zang had already left his mark on French baking methods. By the time he left, there were already a dozen or so copycat bakeries across Paris trying to cash in on the popularity of Viennese bread, pastries and, of course, the crescent-shaped Austrian Kipfel, which people soon started calling croissants thanks to its shape. (source). 

7) The first croissants tasted nothing like they do today.

Despite the switch in the name after Zang left France in 1849 from the Austrian German name “Kipfel” to the French word “croissant,” the croissant still tasted more like a bread roll than the crunchy and light croissant we know today. After all, form alone does not make a croissant. That’s because the Kipfel/croissant recipe hadn’t changed yet.

It would be years before that happened. 

8) The first known modern-day French croissant recipe wasn’t created until the early 1900s. 

Although the French croissant began as the Austrian–Viennese kipfel, it became a uniquely French innovation only when French bakers and pastry chefs tinkered with the Kipfel recipe and replaced the brioche-type dough with leavened puffed pastry dough (Pâte levée feuilletée ).

This leavened puff pastry dough can only be achieved by laminating the dough  (tourage in French), which gives French croissants their unique buttery flavour and flaky texture and differentiates it from the Austrian Kipfel.

The precise date when the recipe changed isn’t known, but the first documented mention of a croissant recipe using yeasted puff pastry dough instead of brioche dough first appeared in 1905 or 1906 in a French cookbook, roughly 65 years after Zang first introduced the Kipfel to France. The name of the book was Colombie’s “NOUVELLE ENCYCLOPEDIE CULINAIRE. Cuisine et Patisserie Bourgeoises conserves de menage.”

image of Colombie’s "NOUVELLE ENCYCLOPEDIE CULINAIRE. Cuisine et Patisserie Bourgeoises, conserves de menage

In 1915, ten years after the first croissant recipe was published using yeasted puff pastry dough, French pastry chef Sylvain Claudius Goy also wrote and published a croissant recipe that replaced the brioche dough with a leavened puff pastry dough in his book titled “La Cuisine Anglo-américaine,” Anglo American cuisine.

See chapter XXII PAIN — PETITS PAINS — MUFFINS PATES DIVERSES on page 272. Here’s a link to Chef Goy’s entire book, available for free online. 

photo of Sylvain C Goy book which mentions the first modern day croissant recipe in 1915

9) The croissant didn’t become a traditional breakfast food in France until after the 1920s

By the 1920s, 80 years after August Zang introduced the Austrian Kipfel to France, the croissant had become very successful. By the 1950s, a little over 100 years after Zang brought the Austrian Kipferl to Paris, the croissant had become a part of a traditional French breakfast for all classes (not just the rich) and one of the symbols of France known worldwide.

The rest is history, which you can read about in the book “August Zang and the French Croissant- How Viennoiserie came to France.” Written by Jim Chevallier, a food historian who has been cited in “The New Yorker,” “The Smithsonian,” and the French newspaper “Le Figaro,” among other publications.

Croissant Ingredients & Rolling Technique & Classification

10) What is laminating, and why is it important?

Laminating dough is what gives croissants their crispy, airy and crunchy layers. It’s the process of folding the dough several times with alternating layers of fat (usually butter, oil or margarine) before rolling and cutting the dough into triangles.

This folding technique creates hundreds of paper-thin layers of butter trapped between hundreds of paper-thin layers of dough. 

When the laminated dough is baked in the oven at very high heat, the liquid trapped between the layers evaporates, and the steam puffs the individual layers. 

photo of raw dough layers of laminated dough for croissants

11) How many layers are in a croissant?

How many layers are there in a croissant?

The number of layers in a croissant depends on the number of folds and turns the baker uses before rolling and cutting the laminated croissant dough into triangles.

I’m no mathematician, so this took me a while to figure out: there’s an actual formula. 

Different bakers make their croissants with a different number of folds and turns.

From what I understand, most fold their croissant dough into thirds at each turn before spreading it with a roller and folding it again into thirds for a total of 3 or 4 turns. Each turn results in additional layers.

So if a baker folds his dough 3 times each turn for a total of 3 turns, the resulting croissant dough (not the croissant) will have 27 layers, while 4 turns result in a croissant dough with 81 layers. 

Here’s what the math looks like…

Layers in the laminated dough  (3 folds )^4 turns

1 turn: 3 layers
2nd turn: 3x3= 9 layers
3rd turn: 9x3=27 layers
4th turn: 27*3=81 layers

Layers in croissants using laminated dough.

After the laminating process, bakers cut the croissant dough into triangles and roll the dough into their famous crescent shape, increasing the number of layers in the croissant by two for each roll. Most recipes recommend 3 or 4 rolls. 

Formula for layers in a croissant =2r(3)^s+ 1″

r=4 (Number of times croissant dough is rolled into croissant shape)
s=4 (number of turns (using the trifold method))

Laminated dough with 81 layers, rolled 4 times, will result in a croissant with 649 layers. 

2*4rolls(3 folds)^4 turns + 1


8(81)+1= 649

Hopefully, I got that right. For the mathematically curious, this site explains the math behind it much better than I can. 

12) There are only 8 ingredients in a French croissant recipe

The basic ingredients for a classic French croissant au beurre are 1) butter, 2) flour, 3) water, 4) milk, 5) yeast, 6) sugar 7) salt. 8) egg

13) What’s the difference between puff pastry dough and croissant dough?

Puff pastry dough (Pâte Feuilletée or feuilletage) only contains flour, water, salt and butter.

Croissant dough (Pâte levée Feuilletée) has additional ingredients that puff pastry does not: yeast usually milk, and egg. The milk makes the dough taste richer, while the yeast makes pastries rise much higher than ordinary puff pastry dough. Another way to look at it is that croissant dough has active or living ingredients, the yeast. Puff pastry does not. 

14) Croissants used to be for the wealthy because the ingredients were too expensive.

Baking ingredients like eggs, butter, cream, chocolate, and sugar were very expensive in the 1800s. Something only high society and royalty could afford. These ingredients’ high prices made the croissant too expensive for the average person in the mid-1800s. It wasn’t until the 19th century, when prices decreased, that the average French person could afford the rich persons bread and pastries such as white bread and croissants. 

Image of Marie Antoinette movie eating cakes

You might be  interested in reading: Here’s who said Let them eat cake! (hint: Not Marie Antoinette)

15) A croissant is a Viennoiserie in France (not a pastry)

In English, a croissant and a chocolate eclair are both considered pastries. But in French, a chocolate eclair is a pastry (patisserie) while a croissant is a “viennoiserie,” which means “things of Vienna,” a classification within the patisserie category.

So, while a Viennoiserie can be a pastry, a pastry is not always a Viennoiserie in French. 

My friend Diane over at Oui In France went behind the scenes at a French bakery, which I think you’ll find really interesting. It talks about these differences and shows you the work that goes into making croissants in a French boulangerie. 

French bakery behind the scenes: Making croissants | Life in France

Incidentally, Austrian bakers brought their Viennese bread to Denmark, which eventually developed into Danish specialties. In Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish, the term for Danish pastry is wienerbrød (or wienerbröd), which in English means “Viennese bread.” 

16) What is viennoiserie?

Viennoiserie is a category of baked goods (usually breakfast) made from yeast-leavened dough, similar to bread or puff pastry, but with additional ingredients: yeast, eggs, butter, milk, cream or sugar. The addition of these ingredients gives Viennoiserie a sweeter and much richer character than regular puff pastry dough. 

Examples of viennoiserie include, croissants, pain au chocolat, pain au raisin, brioche, danishes, chausson aux pommes and many more.

17) Croissants are the #1 Viennoiserie consumed in France

It should come as no surprise that croissants are the number one viennoiserie consumed in France.

3 out of 4 French people eat croissants. Chocolate croissants (pains au chocolat) are a close second, followed by brioche and pains aux raisins. 

croissant consumption compared to other viennoiserie in France

Buying Croissants And Avoiding Industrial Croissants In France

18) Spoiler alert** Many French bakeries sell pre-frozen industrial croissants (discreetly)

“Let’s go to a French bakery in France and eat frozen croissants,” **said nobody ever**. But it happens all the time.

industrial made croissants in the factory

There’s a widespread belief, especially among tourists, that when you walk into a French boulangerie, you’re buying a superior quality croissant, freshly baked from scratch on-site (fait Maison). Although this used to be true before the ’70s, before the industrialization of food, that’s not the case anymore. 

It’s estimated that more than half of French bakeries buy pre-frozen industrial croissants made by machines who later bake them on-site and sell them to customers. (source). 

There is nothing technically wrong with bakers selling frozen croissants as long as they’re transparent with their customers. Unfortunately, that’s not happening, which is pissing off genuine pastry chefs and bakers in France who make their croissants onsite from scratch. Not to mention, it’s misleading to customers. 

Although an artisanal boulangerie might make fresh artisanal bread on-site (because they have to by law), that law doesn’t apply to croissants and other viennoiseries (at the time of this writing).

But don’t worry, there is a way to tell the difference now, thanks to a new label!

19) The New Label “Boulanger De France”

Logo of Boulanger de France

To differentiate the artisanal croissants (made on-site from scratch) from the industrial frozen croissants sold by over half of bakeries and pastry shops, the Confédération Nationale de la Boulangerie-Pâtisserie Française created a new label in 2020; “Boulanger de France.”

Bakeries have to apply for the certification and meet specific prerequisites to qualify, similar to foods that carry the organic label. 

Bakers must:

  • Produce bread fresh on site ;
  • make from scratch: croissants, pains au chocolat (chocolatines), pains aux raisins (ou escargots), brioches, pains au lait, galettes des rois (or gâteaux des rois), éclairs, religieuses, millefeuilles, Paris-Brest, opéras, tartes aux fruits, flans, chaussons aux pommes, quiches, pizzas et sandwiches ;
  • respect a salt level of less than or equal to 18 g per kg of flour for all breads ;
  • make bread using a light kneading and a slow fermentation to preserve the aromas and increase the conservation ;
  • favour short supply chains and seasonal products.

How to ask if pastries and croissants are made fresh from scratch on property

Est-ce que vos viennoiseries sont faites sur place?

20) Avoid these places if you want Fresh croissants

photo brioche corée

As I mentioned earlier, more than half of the croissants sold in France are made from pre-frozen industrial croissant dough. And that’s fine as long as you go in with your eyes wide open. The average person can’t really tell the difference. 

However, if you want fresh, artisanal croissants made from scratch that day, avoid supermarkets and the following chains:

Marie Blachère, Brioche Dorée, la Croissanterie, Paul, les Délices du fournil, Pomme de pain, and la Mie câline.

Instead, try to visit an artisanal bakery or patisserie and ask if their croissants are made from scratch in the bakery “fait maison or sur place.”

Or look for the “Boulanger de France” label at bakeries and pastry shops to ensure you’re getting bread and pastries of the freshest and highest quality. 

Boullanger & Pattiserie

21) Where can you buy croissants in France?

Being France’s most popular viennoiserie, you can find and buy croissants pretty much everywhere. At bakeries (les boulangeries), pastry shops (les patisseries), restaurants, coffee shops, outdoor markets, and supermarkets where they’re sold fresh and in the frozen section.

22) What’s the difference between a patisserie and a boulangerie

The terms boulangerie and patisserie often confuse people. Here’s what you need to know. 

Boulangerie Patisserie in Montpellier

What is Pâtisserie?

Pâtisserie is a French pastry, as well as the pastry shop where they are sold.  Laws in France and Belgium restrict who can use the word Pâtisserie: only bakeries with a licensed maître pâtissier (master pastry chefs) can call themselves a Pâtisserie.

In France, a pastry shop will sell anything from cakes, cookies, petits fours and tarts to croissants and pain au chocolat. 

What is boulangerie?

A boulangerie is a French bakery that mainly sells bread but may also sell pâtisseries and viennoiseries. The bread at a boulangerie must be baked on-site to use the title of ‘boulangerie’ in France. 

Some places sell both Pastry and bread, like the photo above, which is a local boulangerie/patisserie in Montpellier that I sometimes pop into. 

There’s also a difference between a boulangerie and an artisanal boulangerie: 

You might be interested in reading Pocket dictionary: 200+ types of French shop names in France, businesses and services too

23) What is the difference between a “Boulangerie” and “Boulangerie Artisanale?”

Artisinal Patisserie

A simple “boulangerie” bakes their bread on-site but most likely uses frozen industrial dough made elsewhere. These are by far the most common and easiest to find in France.

However, a boulangerie or patisserie with a sign that uses the title “artisanal” means that the bread is made entirely on location from scratch, but that doesn’t necessarily mean their croissants and viennoiserie are made from scratch, so again, ask if you want to be sure.

24) Where can you buy the best of the best of the best croissants?

France, obviously!

Photo: best croissant in France competition judges
meilleur croissant de France. (©Confédération nationale de la boulangerie)

Seriously, there are lists upon lists on the internet that give their two cents about where you can find the best croissants. Your best bet is to go to an artisanal bakery or patisserie where croissants are made and baked on-site from the best ingredients and look for the “Boulanger de France” label I mentioned above.

Annual regional and national croissant competitions:

There are local and regional croissant competitions held annually all over France where judges decide whose croissants are the best of the best.

Experts judge, poke, prod, bite, measure and smell freshly baked croissants and judge them based on specific criteria such as shape, appearance,  regularity, flavour, smell and texture. 

Here are just two of the 2019 winners, one for the Paris region and another voted the best croissant in ALL OF FRANCE. 

The best croissant in the Ile de France region is in Paris.

In 2019, Lionel Bonnamy’s bakery La Fabrique aux gourmandises in the 14th arrondissement of Paris won the honour of the best croissant of Ile-de-France. 

La Fabrique aux gourmandises
Address: Rue de l’Amiral Mouchez Paris.  . Syndicat des boulangers du Grand Paris.

The best croissant in ALL of France

As of October 2019, the best croissants in all of France are sold at Boulangerie Maison Fraudin in Saint-Grégoire near Rennes.

Le meilleur croissant au beurre est fabriqué en Bretagne

29-year-old Baptiste Cortais competed and won the first-ever national croissant competition, “Meilleur croissant au beurre de France.”  Candidates from every region of France competed “tête à tête” for the privilege to represent their region. In the end, only 19 made it to the final competition. Baptiste had already won other regional competitions. 

Maison Fraudin
Address: 1 Rue du Halage, 35760 Saint-Grégoire, France 

About Eating And Choosing Croissants In France

25) How to order croissants in a French boulangerie or patisserie

Photo of French phrases you need to use when entering or leaving a shop in France

There is a basic level of politeness in France, which not all cultures possess.

Being polite when you walk into a shop and leave a shop means, at a minimum, using the following phrases: AT MINIMUM!

Anything less could be mistaken as rude. 

  1. Hello “Bonjour,” 2) please “s’il vous plaît,” 3) thank you “Merci,”  and 4) goodbye “au revoir,” or good day/good evening “bonne journée/bonne soirée!

Bonjour! = Hello

Always say bonjour (hello) when you walk into a shop: It’s impolite not to.

This is true for almost everywhere in France, from a doctor’s office, waiting rooms and pharmacies to small shops. You don’t say it to anyone in particular, just to the room in general. And make sure you say bonjour to the bus driver as you board the bus.

Next, place your order using any of these phrases. 

Un crossaint, s’il vous plaît. = One croissant, please.

Je voudrais un croissant s’il vous plâit. = I would like one croissant please

Je vais prendre deux croissant s’il vous plâit. = I will take two croissants please. 

Il me faudrait deux croissants, s’il vous plaît= I need 2 croissants please.

At the end of your order: Staff at the boulangerie will always ask you…

Et avec ceci? = Literally means, “And with this?” It’s the French equivalent to saying, “will that be all? Or “Anything else?”.

Or they may ask you…

Ça sera tout? = Will that be all?

photo of french phrase flat lay
Staff at bakeries and markets will often say, “avec ceci?” or “ça sera tout?” which means “Anything else?” or “Will that be all?”

If you don’t want anything additional, you can say…

Ce sera tout, merci = That will be all, thank you.

If you want to order additional items, you can say…

 Avec ceci, un pain au chocolat = And with this, I’ll also take a chocolate croissant.

je prends aussi un pain au chocolat= I’ll also take a chocolate croissant.

After you pay, always, always, always close with a “Merci” followed by any of these:

Merci monsieur/madame. Bonne journée/Bonne soirée. = Thank you, sir/madam. Have a good day/evening.

Or just say this:

“Merci, au revoir”, “Bonne journée = Thank you, goodbye, have a nice day. (Say it as one long phrase as you are walking out).

Or say this…

Au revoir, merci, bonne soirée= goodbye, thank you, have a nice evening. 

Many paths lead to Rome, so use any combination you want as long as you include “Merci.”

26) French people don’t eat croissants every day

Photo of croissants and pancakes

Croissants are a breakfast pastry (viennoiserie). That doesn’t mean that French people eat croissants everyday just as Americans and Canadians don’t eat pancakes every day.

Croissants are more of an occasional or weekend thing enjoyed primarily in the morning unless you make a sandwich out of it and serve it with a salad, of course. 

27) How to eat a croissant (the French way)

croissant and a cup of coffee

How you eat a croissant is personal and can vary from one person to the next. Here are some of the more widely accepted methods in which a French person might eat a croissant.

  • Croissant connoisseurs insist croissants should only be eaten for breakfast, maybe brunch. I tried eating a croissant for lunch once, and my friend practically slapped the croissant out of my hand. 
  • Say no to buttering your croissant. It’s already loaded with butter. And another thing, in general, French people DO NOT butter their bread in restaurants. 
  • At home, do what you want. In public, the “polite” way to eat a croissant, according to French custom, is the same way you would eat a baguette, by tearing off bite-size pieces with your fingers.
  • I’ve seen some French people use a knife and fork to eat a croissant, but not very often. It has more to do with your company and not wanting to get your fingers greasy and crummy. 
  • Sometimes, French people dunk croissants in their café, but this is “usually” done privately or at home with your family, not in public. That doesn’t mean that people don’t do it in public because it happens.
  • Lastly, it’s better to get a margarine croissant to dunk in your coffee. The butter croissants leave an oil-slick 

28) Why are some croissants straight and others more crescent-shaped?

Butter croissant with straight tips
**This is a straight croissant. Butter croissants tend to take this shape, while margarine croissants take on a more curve, like a crescent.

Because of the growing number of croissants made with margarine instead of butter, there has been a gradual change of shape between butter croissants and butterless croissants.

Not every baker adheres to this rule of thumb in France, but it’s a widespread custom to make croissants au beurre (croissants made with butter) with straighter tips, or at least they should be according to pastry schools.

The irony is that margarine croissants have taken on a more pronounced curve, after which they were named, supposedly to tell the difference between butter and butterless croissants.

I think this switch in croissant shape messes with the tourists because one’s instinct is to go for the more crescent-shaped croissants, which are usually margarine non?

29) What is the perfect croissant?

photo of croissant interior air pockets

A croissant should be golden brown, crispy and flaky on the outside with visible layers. The interior should be soft and airy with honeycomb air pockets. It should taste rich and slightly buttery but should not be too greasy. Lastly, the croissant should be symmetrical, not lopsided—lopsided, bad. 

Croissant Shape And History

30) Why are croissants shaped like a crescent?

There is a lot of fake food lore, interesting mythology and colourful tales surrounding the origins of the croissant and crescent-shaped bread and pastries, but the truth is no one knows for sure how crescent-shaped bread came to be. 

There are theories, though:

  • We know, for example, that crescent-shaped bread is ancient. It may be the oldest surviving bread shape in existence today.
  • We also know that the crescent shape was an important symbol in the ancient world. 

Over 5 thousand years ago, long before the Greek & Roman civilizations blossomed or the Bible was written, the ancient Sumerians, the “black-headed ones,” lived in the southern part of what is now Iraq. 

The Sumerians worshipped many gods, including Nanna, the god of the moon whose symbol was the crescent moon.

The crescent moon symbol, along with the star, was ubiquitous at the time. It was found on seal impressions, pottery, amulets, earrings, and murals and probably made its impression on food. 

31) The Bloody History Of The Croissant

According to Australian journalist David Halliday in his book “The Bloody History of the Croissant,” the first known crescent-shaped bread came two millennia after the Sumerians around 500 BC in ancient Greece.

Two crescent-shaped breads, Diakonon and Anietes, were often offered to Artemis, Zeus’s daughter and goddess of the moon. 

By the 13th century, crescent-shaped bread and pastries somehow made their way to Austria and were probably baked in monasteries for easter until they made their way to other European countries as the Kipfel under many different names.

32) 19 Countries that incorporate the crescent shape on their flags. 

Throughout the centuries, the ancient Sumerians’ star and crescent symbols, which represented the sun and the moon, were often used together in various historical contexts, which influenced more than just scrolls, murals, jewelry, and crescent-shaped bread.

The crescent shape made its impact on country flags.

Despite their ancient Sumerian origins, the conjoined star and crescent shape are best known as a symbol of the Ottoman Empire and Islam, the Ottoman Empire’s official religion.

In 2017, Worldatlas.com identified 45 ‘Islamic countries, many of which incorporate the crescent, the star or both in their flag design. 

Here are 19 countries that incorporate the crescent shape (there are others).

Although most of these flags belong to Islamic faith countries, a few countries like Croatia, Lybia, and Mongolia are not majority Islam.

infograpic of flags with crescents on them

Croissants And Pastry Wars In France

33) What is the difference between a traditional French croissant and a crescent roll?

A lot!

The word crescent roll or crescent is the English translation of the French word croissant. However, crescent rolls like those from Pillsbury are not made of laminated leavened puff pastry dough. The result is very noticeable.

Pillsbury crescent rolls taste like dinner rolls, which happen to be crescent-shaped, crispy, flaky, buttery croissants.

34) Is a chocolate croissant and a “pain au chocolat”  the same?

Pain au chocolat and croissant

In French, what English speakers call a chocolate croissant is actually a “pain au chocolat,” which translates exactly as chocolate bread.

Pain au chocolat comes in two shapes, square and crescent-shaped. 

35) Pain au Chocolat vs Chocolatine Guerre (war)

It’s worth mentioning that there is a long-running pastry naming dispute. A kind of civil war between “pain au Chocolat” and chocolatine, which has some French people up in arms. Both are the same; it’s only the name that differs. 

People in the Southwest of France call these lovely chocolate-filled pastries chocolatine. 

There have been countless memes mocking the different names like this one below. 

pain au chocolat french meme
This is a Chocolatine. This is chocolate bread. Don’t you see the difference? This meme is obviously in favour of calling chocolate croissants “Chocolatine.”

Even more confusing, chocolate croissants are called something else in other small pockets of France.

  • Most of France: Pain au chocolat: 
  • In Southwest France: Chocolatine
  • In Alsace: Croissant au Chocolat.
  • In Hauts-de-France: Petit pain au chocolat
  • In Ardennes: Couque au Chocolat. 

Map of France showing the different names for chocolate croissants across FranceSource of the regional map from Slate

Random But Interesting Croissant Facts

36) The US and Canada have a special day honouring the croissant. 

Pin: January 30th is national croissant day

January 30th is National Croissant Day in the USA. 

In April, pastry makers from Quebec, Ontario and France take part in the annual Fête du croissant- Montreal’s Croissant Festival.  Bakers must make their croissants au beurre on-site and fresh that day, which they sell to the public for an incredibly affordable price. I love this festival. 

37) French Croissant nutrition facts: How many carbs are in a croissant

Croissant nutrition facts

A very depressing French croissant fact is its nutritional value.

I can eat croissants any time I want to since I live in France, not that I would eat a croissant every day because a single medium-sized croissant that weighs 57 grams contains around  231 calories and for you keto lovers, 26 grams of carbs. GULP!

By the gram, that means that there are roughly 400 calories and 46 carbs per 100 grams in croissants. 

38) How much does a croissant cost in France?

Croissant prices vary in France. I’ve seen some high-end places sell them for 2 plus euros, but a croissant in France costs around 1.08 euros on average. 

price of a croissant

39) The majority of French people do not buy their croissants exclusively from French bakeries

The majority of French people do not purchase their croissants from French bakeries

Contrary to popular belief, French people don’t always shop at an open-air farmers market or buy their bread and pastries from boulangeries.  It’s a matter of price and convenience.

According to a study conducted by Institut français d’opinion publique, 

  • 22 percent of French people purchase their croissants exclusively at traditional bakeries. 1 out of 5
  • 58 % from Supermarkets 1 out of 2. Mainly due to price and convenience. 

Croissants are versatile, like shrimp

40) Four pastries that use the same dough as a croissant:

1) Pain au chocolat: The only difference between pain au chocolat and a croissant is its shape and the addition of chocolate, of course. 

2) Croissant aux Amandes: Almond croissants were initially a way for bakeries to reuse and resell day-old croissants. They are filled with almond cream (crème d’amandes) and sprinkled with sliced almonds before getting baked again to let the cream set and almonds toast.

3) Un Escargot or Pain aux raisins: Raison bread or as some like to call it escargot, which means snail uses the same dough as croissants. Raisins and almond cream or custard are added to this spiral pastry. 

definition card of Pains aux raisins aka escargot
Photo / © AnnieAndre.com

4) Kouign-Amann, pronounced /Queen-Ya-Mahn/:  is from the Brittany region of France. The name “butter cake” comes from the Breton language (Kouign) for cake and (Amann) for butter. The best way to describe it is it tastes like a croissant (because it uses the same type of leavened puff pastry dough) with caramelized sugar on the outside. It’s pure heaven.

Below is a batch my son made, which we ate with whipped cream and strawberries. It was a labour of love, and some consider it one of the hardest pastries to make. 

photo kouign amann French pastry viennoiserie
Photo of Kouign-Amann, my son made / © AnnieAndre.com

41) Six pastries that share a common ancestor with the French croissant

The French weren’t the only ones who took the Austrian Kipfel to create something unique to their country. 

1) GERMANY: Laugencroissant

photo of GERMAN Laugencroissant, a cross between a croissant and a pretzel

Leave it to the Germans to make a flaky, buttery croissant and cross it with the wonderfully thick, smooth and dark brown crust of a pretzel. It tastes like a croissant but has the texture of a pretzel, and it’s brilliant. 


photo: Mandel Gipfel: Swiss German version of an almond croissant
Photo Mandel Gipfel: Swiss version of an almond croissant © AnnieAndre.com

In case you didn’t know, Switzerland has 3 official languages, Italian, French and Swiss German, with Swiss German being the language most spoken. It’s very different from the German spoken in Germany. 

Throughout most of Swiss German-speaking Switzerland, you’ll find Gipfels, which are similar to croissants and just as abundant as croissants are in France. When you get to the French part of Switzerland, Gipfels are called croissants. 

You’ll find a variety of Gipfel with different fillings and toppings. Here are some of the more popular ones. 

  • Laugen gipfel = pretzel croissant (similar to the german Laugencroissant)
  • Mandel Gipfel = Almond filled (similar to a French almond croissant)
  • Nussgipfel = Nut croissant
  • Buttergipfel = very buttery croissants
  • Gipfeli = could be a butter croissant but probably has less butter.
  • Vollkorngipfel = Wholewheat croissants
  • Schinkengipfel = Ham croissants
  • Schoggi Gipfel = Chocolate filled (my favourite. The chocolate filling is less sweet than a French pain au chocolat)

3) ITALY: Cornetto or Naples Brioche

photo of Italian Cornetto pastry
Photo / © AnnieAndre.com

The Italian Cornetto looks like a croissant from Southern Italy, but don’t say that in Italy because someone might get offended.

Cornetto, Italian for  “little horn,” is a variation of the Austrian Kipferl and the French Croissant. In Northern Italy, it’s called Naples brioche.  It has less butter than the French croissant and is more brioche-like. It’s often filled with a filling or sprinkled with powdered sugar. 

4) Poland: Saint Martin Croissant

Saint Martin croissant from polland

The Saint Martin croissant ”Rogal świętomarciński, is legally protected in the EU.

It’s traditionally prepared in Poznań and some parts of the Greater Poland region for St Martin’s Day on November 11, which also happens to be Poland’s national day.

A genuine St. Martin’s croissant is made from puff pastry, but it’s filled with a white poppy-seed filling, vanilla, crushed dates or figs, coated with sugar icing and sprinkled with ground nuts… 

At the 150-year-old Poznan Croissant Museum in Poland, visitors can learn how to produce a croissant according to the original recipe. 

5) Danish Pastries

photo of Danish pastry

No doubt you’re familiar with danishes, which are a combination of brioche-type bread and croissant dough (leavened puff pastry), lightly drizzled with sugary frosting.

Danish pastries come in all shapes and sizes, and the interior is usually filled with Remonce, which is a filling commonly made of nuts, sugar, or fruit. Other fillings include apple, marzipan, brown sugar and cinnamon. 

6) ITALY: Sfogliatella

Sfogliatella IN sicilly
Photo / © AnnieAndre.com

When I took my first bite of a Sfogliatella (sfol-ya-tel-le) in Sicily,  it immediately reminded me of a croissant. Yes, it was that good. 

Sfogliatella, which means “many leaves or layers,” sometimes called a lobster tail in English, is a shell-shaped or lobster tail-shaped Italian pastry native to Campania in southern Italy. 

Sfogliatella is made with puff pastry dough, not leavened and is usually filled with a variety of sweet fillings depending on the bakery. 

**Update, my friend messaged me and said it looked like a phallic symbol. You see what you want to see; I see a lobster tail pastry. 

croissant salami sandwhich

Just a sampling of all the ways you can eat a croissant (Bubba Gump style from Forrest Gump movie)

  • apple croissants/croissant aux  pommes
  • almond croissant/croissant aux amandes
  • Raspberry filled / croissant aux framboises
  • cheese croissants/croissant au fromage
  • ham and cheese croissant/croissant aux jambon et fromage
  • Seafood croissant/ croissant aux fruits de Mer
  • Smoked bacon and Emmental cheese croissant / Croissants aux lardons fumés et Emmental
  • chocolate croissants
  • sourdough croissants

42) Four Hybrid (or Franken-Croissant) creations you won’t believe are a thing. 

What do you get when you cross a croissant with another pastry? Here are a few creations you may or may not know. 

CRONUT ® = Croissant + Donut

Cronut, a cross between a donut and a croissant

The cronut is shaped like a donut and made with dough similar to croissant dough.

French-born pastry chef, Dominique Ansel, invented the cronut at his New York bakery. His trademarked cronuts are filled with flavoured cream, which he fries in grapeseed oil. A true blend of American donuts with a French croissant flair! 

CRAGEL = Croissant + Bagel

Cragel from House of bagels
Photo / © House of Bagels

If a croissant could have babies, it would not give birth to Cragels.

Developed by the Bagel Store, the Cragel is a cross between a croissant and a bagel. You can get these chewy and somewhat flaky creations at House of bagels in Brooklyn.  Some people swear they are the best thing since sliced bread.  

CROIFFLE= Croissant + Waffle

Croiffle from Godiva: croissant pressed in a waffle iron fille with sweet or savoury filling

If you love waffles, croissants and paninis, you might like to try a croiffle. You can thank the Godiva chocolate company for this one. It’s basically a croissant filled with savoury or sweet fillings pressed on a waffle iron like a panini sandwich. 

You can easily make these at home if you have a waffle iron. I suggest a ham and cheese croissant. Delicious!

CRUPCAKE = Croissant + Cupcake

photo of Crupcake from dudefoods
Photo / © DudeFoods

Nick Chipman from DudeFoods had the bright idea to take croissant dough and somehow make a cupcake mix for his unique hybrid cupcake croissant. 

43) Gifts for croissant lovers: 

For the true francophile or croissant lover, there’s no shortage of gifts and products you can buy. Here is just a handful I found. 

Croissant Cutter

This croissant roller/ cutter helps you cut out perfect croissant triangles 3.75 inches wide and 8.25 inches long, resulting in croissants that are around 50 grams each. 

Croissant Roller Cutter
$59.99 $56.93
Buy Now
02/18/2024 06:41 pm GMT

Croissant Necklace

Croissant Earrings

Cute “kawaii” realistic croissant earrings. 

You had me at croissant T-shirt. 

you had me at croissant t shirt
Buy Now
02/18/2024 02:41 pm GMT

Croissant airplane pillow

Travel in style with a croissant airplane pillow and you’ll make everyone hungry or envious.

croissant airplane pillow
10,99 €

Travel neck pillow in the form of a French croissant. Molds to your neck perfectly. Removable soft velour cover.

Buy Now
02/19/2024 11:01 am GMT

Croissant night lights

Light the night with a croissant night light.

Croissant night light
$15.09 $13.99

Buy Now
02/19/2024 10:56 am GMT

44) The weird things people do with croissants

Bet you didn’t know you can do more than just eat a croissant. 

Check out all the ways people incorporate croissants into art and entertainment. 

Breadfacing with croissants + ASMR

I recently discovered ASMR and Bread Face, both of which I still don’t get. 

  • If you’re not familiar with “bread face,” it’s where people rub their face all over various bread. Once you see a breadface video, you can’t unsee it. You’ve been warned!
  • Although on the surface, ASMR looks like random people whispering into a microphone making random sounds with their hands, mouth and objects, supposedly create a sensory explosion in some people who say they feel “tingles” that run through the back of their head and spine. 

The person in this video does both breadface and ASMR using a croissant. 

Croissant photoshoot

Fat flags photo series
Photo / © Jonathan Icher

French photographer Jonathan Icher created a Fat Flag Photo Series, where models were painted as flags and ate stereotypical foods from that country.

TV series starring croissant man:

Have you seen the Amazon Prime show starring “Croissant Man,” a super melancholy croissant? 

Cat’s that morph into croissants.

I never realized how similar curled-up cats look like croissants. Someone on YouTube decided to make a video of cats morphing into croissants. I think it works. 

Cats Morph into Croissants

Daniel Thrasher’s Croissant Parody of a French man trying to pronounce croissant in English

The guttural French R is tough for many people to pronounce, especially anglophones. The same is true for French people who have a difficult time pronouncing the English R.

If you’ve ever watched The Pink Panther where Steve Martin, who plays the French detective, tries to pronounce the word Hamburger, you’ll get this parody video.

The person in this YouTube video pretends to be French and has a hard time pronouncing the word croissant so that an English speaker can understand him. 

How you look when you order a croissant (probably)

Stay calm, eat a French croissant and Save This Article To Pinterest.

I hope you enjoyed these French croissant facts. Please spread the love and be sure to share with your friends on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. 

Au revoir, merci, et bonne journée!

Pin of 44 fascinating croissant facts

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a 'petite commission' at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my links. It helps me buy more wine and cheese. Please read my disclosure for more info.

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Annie André

Annie André

About the author

I'm Annie André, a bilingual North American with Thai and French Canadian roots. I've lived in France since 2011. When I'm not eating cheese, drinking wine or hanging out with my husband and children, I write articles on my personal blog annieandre.com for intellectually curious people interested in all things France: Life in France, travel to France, French culture, French language, travel and more.


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