French Sandwich (Pan Bagnat)

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I remember the first time I saw a French sandwich, I was a bit bewildered. Whereas in the States we’re accustomed to 6″ subs, in France, sandwiches are no shorter than 12″.

french sandwich

The French Sandwich

It was amazing to see all these super long sandwiches, piled up high on top of each other inside all the deli windows. It was even more amazing to stare at my empty hands after I finished one of them!

I remember buying the sandwich and thinking there was no possible way I could finish the whole thing. But lo and behold, it was all gone 10 minutes later.

And who could blame me? A French sandwich is a magnificent thing; it’s nothing like our plain ol’ turkey sandwich here in the States.

french sandwich

This French sandwich, also known as a pan bagnat, is one of my favorite French sandwiches. It’s similar to an Italian pressed sandwich in that it’s composed of many layers, which are then pressed together after a heavy object is placed upon the sandwich for several hours.

It’s a speciality of the Nice region in France and is traditionally made with tuna, but I’m not a big fan of tuna, so I subbed roast chicken.

It’s a wonderful way to use last night’s leftover chicken in a new recipe.

french sandwich

french sandwich

There are several ways to make a pressed French sandwich like this, but this recipe uses my favorite combination of ingredients. All the flavors just meld together so well and truly make this a gourmet treat.

If you’re using roast chicken, you can either use your local market’s rotisserie chicken, or make your own. The same goes for the olive tapenade in this recipe.

I share this French sandwich recipe with the hopes that it will serve you well now that picnic season is arriving. Serve this with a side of potato salad and a nice glass of rosé, and everyone’s happy!

french sandwich

French Sandwich (Pan Bagnat)

Yield: 2
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

A pressed French sandwich from Nice and Provence. 


  • 8 oz loaf of ciabatta
  • 1/4 cup olive tapenade
  • 1 oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 a large tomato, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup shredded roast chicken
  • 1/4 cup sliced pepperoncini
  • 2 oz arugula
  • olive oil, to drizzle


  1. Make a horizontal cut through the ciabiatta loaf to split it into 2 halves. Drizzle olive oil over each half. Spread the olive tapenade over each half of bread.
  2. Drop the crumbled goat cheese over the bottom half of the bread, followed by the tomato slices, roast chicken, pepperoncini, and arugula.
  3. Carefully, but quickly, flip the top half of bread over onto the sandwich, trying not to spill too much of the tapenade off. Tightly wrap the sandwich in plastic wrap.
  4. Place a cast iron skillet, or another equally heavy object, onto the sandwich and let the sandwich rest for at least 1 hour. If you have the time, let the sandwich rest under the heavy object overnight in the fridge for best flavor.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 2 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 519

french sandwich

16 thoughts on “French Sandwich (Pan Bagnat)”

  1. Maintenant que les beaux jours approchent, ce sandwich me pareil parfait pour passer la journée au Bassin d’Arcachon et le dévorer en contemplant l’océan 😉

    • Oooh, I would love to eat this sandwich on the beach of Arcachon – what a wonderful idea, Eva! Thanks so much <3

  2. Oh my gosh! Could this be the sandwich I have such fond memories of?! Years ago I stayed at the Ritz in Paris (a special occasion – certainly not the norm for our budget). After our stay we rented a car and we were going to drive to Italy. We asked the people at the hotel if they could pack us a picnic lunch for the ride. What they brought out was nothing short of incredible! First of all, it was in an actual picnic-style basket. It was filled with fresh baguettes, soft cheeses, fruit, and the most wonderful sandwiches! I think it may have been this! This is so exciting to have finally found it! It was such a wonderful time. And you’ll get a kick out of this… we asked them for a few napkins and a very nice gentleman disappeared back into the hotel. He came running out to our car with an armful of white linen napkins! First thought was, omg! And then I though, he’s knows we’re leaving…. right? 😉 #LoveParis <3

    • Kathleen, that sounds like the ultimate dream picnic basket and overall picnic experience! I would love to experience something similar <3

      The French are so adamant about using good china, silverware, and nice napkins…I love the dining etiquette they have. Thanks so much for sharing your story and for the kind words – I truly enjoyed it <3

  3. How did I miss these sandwiches in Paris!? Thanks goodness I have my Beeta to keep me straight about the French foods that are must have. The whole pressing bit is genius! I love how the French actually HAVE picnics, in the parks, along the river, etc. It’s such a wonderful, Joie de vivre activity.

    Did you have Tartine sandwiches there? I don’t know if they’re always open faced, but the ones we had were. I must have had a dozen while we were there. My favorite had tapenade, a thick roasted eggplant slice, roasted tomato and some kind of fantastic, barnyardy melted cheese. And now I’m starving. 😉

    • The pressing thing is just SO great because it really does help meld the flavors together and make this sandwich manageable for picking up and eating. Also, YES the French excel at the joie de vivre motto…I adore them for that <3

      And tartines are one of my favorite ways to enjoy a sandwich! As much as I love bread, I love the ratio of bread to filling you get with an open-faced sandwich. Sometimes when I want to order a sandwich or burger, I’m put off by the amount of bread because I just know I can’t finish the meal. I am totally trying that combo as eggplants are my favorite! <3

    • Right!? I was totally impressed by the length of their sandwiches too! They are so so yummy, you would love them. Thanks so much for your sweet words, Jess <3


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