Pain Spécial

Pain Spécial

I can hear you thinking: “Hm, could this be a pain au chocolat? Is that a bit of ganache coming out from the side? …then again it looks a bit like black olives, no?”

You have a point. They are indeed black olives, and the little guy on the picture is an olive and tomato pain spécial, purchased at Pain de Sucre, a previously mentioned pastry store in the 3rd.

It is made from a rectangular strip of bread dough spread with fresh tomatoes and olives, then rolled onto itself and baked. The outcome is a handy and tasty mini-loaf that you can bite into as a street snack, pull apart and nibble on with a salad, dunk into a bowl of soup, slice in two and fill with a bit of cheese or charcuterie to make a sandwich, or just hold in your hand for comfort and warmth.

I am seeing more and more of these rolls in Paris bakeries (latest sighting in the excellent boulangerie at 24 rue St-Martin in the 4th) and they come in different tempting flavors — cheese and walnuts, sesame goat cheese and honey, chorizo, olives and herbes de Provence. Specialty breads are usually made with ingredients that aren’t very perishable (nuts, dried fruits, etc.) and they are not really meant to be eaten on their own. I like that these include hefty doses of fresh and flavorful ingredients, making them a real treat in and of themselves. I also like that they’re individual and pretty-looking, and — a substantial plus — that they look so much like savory pains au chocolat.

[Oh and I feel I must tell you this: as we were contemplating the display case at Pain de Sucre, Thierry Lhermitte stepped inside, in a rush and wanting to purchase two large cakes. All went eerily quiet in the small boutique, as everyone pretended not to have recognized him, looking away but still trying to catch his reflection in the glossy brioches. When he was gone (this took barely 30 seconds), everyone went back to their business, but the flustered boulangère had a bit of trouble counting out her change.]

Pain de Sucre
14 rue Rambuteau, 75003 Paris
01 45 74 68 92

Christophe Vasseur
24 rue St-Martin, 75004 Paris
01 48 87 46 17


Things Clotilde Loves

Edible French
Edible French: Tasty Expressions and Cultural Bites

French food and French language brought together at last!

  • From $12.65 / 16.65€
De Buyer Crêpe Pan
De Buyer Skillet and Crêpe Pan

Extra durable, eco-friendly, and made in France

  • From $39.95
  • :::sigh::: Thierry Lhermitte! Yum.

  • Alisa

    I am so glad you brought this up. I have been meaning to give you my report on the brioche I purchased that day. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the “butter was a little brioche tasting”, BUT the butter was a bit overwhelming. I most likely would not buy it again, but I am eager to try the little breads you purchased, and return for other things there that looked interesting – including Thierry Lhermitte!

  • They have had this delicious little nibbly sandwiches at my boulangerie for over a year now. They call them mini pavés, but they are made in the same manner as your “pain spécial”.

    Du Pain et des Idées, 34 r Yves Toudic 75010

    They even have sweet ones.

  • Cindy

    I can understand why she was a bit troubled. He’s so charming !
    Now speaking of your little bread, that looks cute, I like it and I’m sure that must not be too difficult to make (I don’t live in Paris, poor me)

  • Becca

    Pastries AND French celebrities in one place? My two favorite things in life — I’m there!

    If you’re looking for other “stuffed” pains spéciaux, I adore the “pain au fromage” (cheese bread) at Eric Kayser’s EKBoulangepicier in the 6th (rue de l’ancienne comédie, right by Odéon). Dip it into your favorite soup and it makes a great appetizer (or meal if you decide to eat the whole loaf=). The cheese is crispy along the edges and the inside is a succulent mélange of soft dough and cheese (I think emmental?) They come in “mini” size as well.

  • I didn’t recognize his name, but I sure did recognize his face. He was in the movie le Divorce as the older man who tempted Kate Hudson into an affair and who gave her the famous red purse.
    The only French actor I’ve ever seen was Vincent Cassel-the French actor in Ocean 12-out on the streets of Paris taking photos. I’ve seen Yannick Noah as well as a famous French chef who wears a black hat, whose name I’ve never known.

  • Monica

    Oh, how absolutely scrumptious! And the roll’s not half bad-looking either. Becca, that “pain au fromage” sounds divine, especially the crispy bits – such a perfect pairing are bread and cheese.

  • I didn’t recognize his name either, but his face- for sure! Wow, thats rather fun! I love these little breads. Perfect for munching on while I am shopping. We have a great french bakery at my local shaopping area, and its jsut so posh to go, have a latte and munch on this tiny sandwhich to refuel myself.

  • Very yummy!

  • Caroline

    May I ask what kind of cakes he bought? I would like to know without having to buy “Voici” :-)

  • Meg

    Oh man. An ex-boyfriend of mine used to tease me that he knew TH’s address in the 11th and would never tell me. Sigh.

    Perhaps he was wise…


  • Shelli

    Thierry L’Hermitte! My first French actor crush. Are his eyes really that blue? Didn’t he need help with those cakes? Didn’t you volunteer?

  • Deste

    While the bread is quite different, the concept reminds me very much of my British stepmother’s sausage rolls, something she makes in extra large batches at Christmas because one of her American sons-in-law loves them so.

  • zen

    Is a pain the same was what we’d call a “kolache” in Texas???

  • Marie

    This man is YUM! Is he as charming and debonair as one would hope? I, too, have only seen him in Le Divorce, but I am willing to watch a full-on Thierry marathon after seeing this link. Boy have I been missing out. He’s so tasty that his appearance fits perfectly on a food blog, don’t you agree?

  • Over here at Weaver Street Market, aside from the pains au chocolats, we have the ones filled with goat cheese and dried tomatoes and also with ricotta and spinach. Both can be enjoyed on their own (maybe with a salad). Together with the croissants, in or around Chapel Hill, these pains are the closest you can get to getting them fresh from your local bakery in Belgium or France. I’ve even noticed that they even put a tad more chocolate ganache in the pains au chocolat over here. They’re just shamefully divine :)

  • this is great…it’s like you’re doing a review of all the boulangeries in my new neighborhood! please continue!!

    on a similarly self-contained note, next to but quite separately from the dubious chinese food on display you can find absolutely delicious vietnamese rouleaux de printemps, with fresh mint leaves and shrimp, at the asian traiteurs just north, e.g. on rue beaubourg.

  • josie

    nice bread and nice man. i love to buy olive bread in provence when i visit there – unfortunately i have not yet encountered any handsome actors in the boulangerie.

  • Jean-Paul

    Il faut absolument signaler cela sur le blog suivant :

  • Fabienne

    The boulangerie that you just mentionned rue Saint Martin belongs to Christophe Vasseur, not Maurice Naulleau. He already had the wonderful boulangerie “du Pain et des idées” in the 10th and, a month ago, opened this new one on rue Saint Martin, with the same products (among which the petits pains fourrés sucrés ou salés). But please write his name : he is a very nice guy, attentive to the customers and always ready to ready to talk with them. What about “Pain de sucre”? Is it good (for example the tart that you had for C et Z’s birthday? I steped in once, thought that it looked very nice, with a certain Aoki or Pierre Hermé touch, but was not sure about the quality and did not get a chance to taste. But I trust your choices so please teel me if it is worth attending!

  • Thanks for the correction Fabienne, this was the name I had found in the yellow pages, but apparently Christophe Vasseur has taken over now! Re: Pain de Sucre, I do recommend it. The tartlet and the petit pain at least were superb, so it’s worth exploring!

  • Great blog and I enjoyed the comments regarding Thierry’s unexpected visit.

Get the newsletter

Receive FREE email updates with all the latest recipes, plus exclusive inspiration and Paris tips. You can also choose to be notified when a new post is published.

View the latest edition of the newsletter.