Café complet is the classic French breakfast. It’s simple, quick and elegant, and has the distinction of being eaten both by the literary and cinematic James Bond. In the novel of Goldfinger (1959), having spent the night at the Hotel de la Gare, Bond begins his morning in Orleans with a café complet at the railway station before continuing his pursuit of the eponymous villain. In the film of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), George Lazenby’s Bond orders café complet for two at the Hotel Palácio in Portugal.
The meal comprises a cup of coffee and a croissant, brioche roll or large piece of a baguette, accompanied by butter and a selection of preserves and honey. Fruit juice may also be served.
When travelling through France, I find that a croissant and chunky piece of baguette sustain me until the three-course formule at lunchtime. But this more leisurely petit dejeuner is perhaps not quite in the spirit of a café complet, which is a rapid affair for those on the go (like the coffee and doughnuts in Goldfinger and The Spy who Loved Me). Accordingly, James Bond’s breakfast is likely to have been typical of a railway station bar – a croissant only, perhaps, to accompany his double ration of coffee.