PARIS—Trips to the neighborhood boulangerie are a must for any Parisian visitor. While the city houses more than two million residents, its boulangeries bake a local feel into storefronts with inviting breads, pastries and cakes.

Regarded as a reinterpretation of Austria’s kipferl, today the croissant is long synonymous with French culture. A laminated dough packed with butter yields layers of flakiness when biting into the golden crescent-shaped creation, one that is universally unmatched away from its motherland.

While WTA and ATP tennis players are notoriously conscious of their nutrition, especially when on the road, the croissant is a common cheat card in Paris. It’s become routine for Coco Gauff, who has made her way to a major singles semifinal for the first time.

“I love croissants, so much. I think I’ve had them every day since I’ve been in France,” the 18-year-old told Baseline. “It’s probably not a good thing, but I don’t really care. Croissants and honey is the best combination.”

Jannik Sinner likes to pair his with jam, while also enjoying original iteration along with chocolate.

“I just love them,” he says. “[Which] is unfortunate because I try to stay very healthy.”

Classic chocolate croissants or “Pain au chocolat” are more rectangular in shape. The sweet treat is a go-to for Simona Halep and Maria Sakkari when in town.

“Every day when I’m in Paris, I eat a croissant,” said Halep, who shared she “killed two at breakfast” when we spoke ahead of the event. “The most enjoyable moment is to have a cappuccino and pain au chocolat.”

Gauff is yet to drop a set through five matches at Roland Garros.

Gauff is yet to drop a set through five matches at Roland Garros.


Sakkari is more selective when it comes to pulling the trigger. “I’ll have one or two during my stay here, because they do have a lot of calories. I take care of what I eat,” the Greek says.

Back in 2005, one emergent Rafael Nadal kept pain au chocolat as part of his regular routine when he debuted at the clay-court major

“I was not as careful as today to moderate my gluttony, and there in Paris I developed an insane passion for chocolate croissants,” Nadal revealed in a translated passage from his 2011 autobiography Raf.

When agent Carlos Costa expressed concern over the teenager’s choice of carb, Nadal’s uncle Toni took a hands-off approach—one that clearly worked as the left-hander captured his first title on the Grand Slam stage.

“No, no. Let him eat his nice chocolate sweets, so he learns when he gets a stomachache! As usual, his system worked, and I learned the hard way,” recounted Nadal, who is two victories away from lifting an astonishing 14th Coupe des Mousquetaires at Roland Garros this week after taking down Novak Djokovic at 1:15 a.m. Wednesday.

A better understanding of diet and digestion also played a role in Naomi Osaka significantly scaling back her croissant consumption, which never included pain au chocolat.

“I like croissants. But I found out that I’m gluten-intolerant. It’s kind of sad,” she says. “Maybe I’ll cheat one day but I don’t like chocolate.”

When I interviewed Daniil Medvedev last year, almond croissants came up as one of his favorite sweets, though the world No. 2 often swears off sugar when in competition mode.

And as one would expect, croissants aren’t for everybody on tour. Madison Keys asserts they’re best in Paris but has eaten “six” in her life. Admits countryman Taylor Fritz, “If I’m gonna have something bready, I’m gonna have something else. I’d much rather have a donut.”

Amanda Anisimova isn’t in agreement with her fellow American. “That’s what I wish I had for breakfast. I do love croissants. I try to eat them when I can, especially if it’s my day off.”

For reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu, it all comes back to the detail work of boulangeries that enhances the experience.

“I love croissants. Even more so in Paris,” the 19-year-old says. “They’re so flaky. You can just peel off layer by layer.”

As Gauff continues chasing a major dream, a smaller yet soothing one is sure to help the No. 18 seed feel at home before she faces Martina Trevisan Thursday for a place in the women’s final.

“I look forward to waking up and eating a croissant.”

Bon appétit, Coco!