What does the phrase/idiom “au bon pain” mean?

I am translating it as “with the good bread” or “to the good bread”.

How has this idiomatic expression arrived?

2 Answers 2


This is not a specific idiom, it's just a rather frequent name for a bakery.

Lots of shop names will start with à, à is a preposition that here introduces the place one is at, as in:

Je suis à la maison (I'm at home).

Naming the bakery Au bon pain is a hint to potential customers that's the place where they'll be able to buy good bread. Naming the bakery Au bon pain puts the stress on the shop, the environment (the salespeople, the decoration etc...) , whereas Le bon pain (which can be found as well as a bakery name) puts more stress on the product.

In the same way in France you will find shop names such as:
À la bonne pêche for a fishmonger's.
À la bonne fourchette for a restaurant.
À la bonne bière for a café.
Au dé d'argent for a haberdashery.

You do not say in what context you have encountered the words so we can also imagine them used in a figurative context. For example I could say "chez nous c'est au bon pain", meaning that in my house we eat good bread. It still designates a place where good bread can be found.

  • 2
    You might also cite Au bon beurre by Jean Dutourd.
    – jlliagre
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 7:02
  • 1
    or Au bonheur des dames by Zola.
    – lemon
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 7:08
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    and there is the famous Au Lion d'Or (at the Golden Lion) for an hotel, as it is phonetically "Au lit on dort" (at bed we sleep)... ; )
    – lemon
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 7:41
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    @RogerVadim The question was indeed likely motivated by the chain name. None rightly assumed it was the name of a bakery but was probably unaware of the NA chain. That doesn't affect her reply correctness.
    – jlliagre
    Commented Aug 17, 2022 at 9:16
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    @jlliagre I didn't mean to question the validity of the reply, but I thought it was a relevant piece of information.
    – Roger V.
    Commented Aug 17, 2022 at 9:22

I looked up the translation of a Barbara Weldens song, where it is said that the following: “Me réclame un bon de pain” Means “Ask me for a bread voucher” https://en.muztext.com/lyrics/barbara-weldens-du-pain-pour-les-reveille-matin This sounds somewhat bizarre but the song does have rather fantastic lyrics.

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    "Au bon pain" and "un bon de pain" are substantially different.
    – jlliagre
    Commented Aug 17, 2022 at 8:18
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    Commented Aug 17, 2022 at 20:55

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