The Great French Baguette

p1000988I discovered a little secret the other day about the pâtisseries you see in a typical French boulangerie. All those lovely tarts, the fruity slices and the sensual rum babas, perfectly centred in little paper wrappers – do you know who buys them? Certainly, there are lots of them sold in beautiful cardboard boxes to elegant ladies dressed to within an inch of their lives, and of course, others go out the door in the clutches of small children, but to my surprise I learnt that very few go home with bored housewives. Of course, no French woman touches anything outside of a meal-time; we know that. So where do these pâtisseries go?

Many are apparently bought by men. The men who, with that famous “Chérie, n’oublies pas le pain!” ringing in their ears, drop in on their way home from work to fetch a baguette for dinner, and yes, why not, a little rum baba s’il vous plait, and they’ll exchange a cheeky knowing look with the girl behind the counter and then, on the way home, secretly devour the snack. Before you laugh, I learnt this straight from the mouth of a young stunningly pretty French baker who makes a vast amount of them each day. Fact or fiction? I’m not sure, but this is certainly her belief!

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I think I’d better explain! David, the master technician from our village bakery, has departed. We knew all summer he was going, off to an interior region of France to pursue a career involving the march of the baguette-machine across the nation. The boulangerie now has a new baker and normality has returned, but in the interim we were forced to buy our bread elsewhere and by chance we stopped at a little bakery one morning on the way home from the Île d’Oléron. Here, a girl I have come to know quite well makes dozens of exquisite mouth-watering pâtisseries every day while her husband slaves over the roaring oven, the two of them in a race to make a mark on their new profession.

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Franck and Amélie are a dynamic couple who once had a profitable media agency in Bordeaux, but after the big stock market crash of 2008 they lost a host of clients and had to close the business shortly after. To make ends meet while they re-planned their lives, Franck worked nights for two years in the LU biscuit factory and it was during this period that he developed a taste for baking. Deciding it was a metier worth pursuing he went off for a year’s course in the fine art of transforming flour into bread while Amélie downed her graphic design tools and went to do a similar undertaking in the arcane arts of pâtisserie, building upon her life-long love of cooking. The two of them then went property-hunting, certificates in hand, and finally found the little run-down bakery they now call home.

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They spent twelve months refurbishing the premises in which time they rebuilt the oven, replaced most of the machinery and tidied up as best as they could before opening for business just over a year ago, bringing back to vibrant life a bakery that has stood on the same spot for over a hundred years. The bread they produce is excellent, reinforced by Franck’s insistence on using a one and a half hour resting period for his dough each time the mixer stirs into life with another 25 kilo sack of flour. Very few bakers in France now use this traditional resting period, and the growing amount of customers through the front door would seem to indicate the two of them are making their mark in the area.

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Each and every loaf is decorated in some style, a nod to the artist deep within Franck’s soul, for he once did fine art at the Université de Bordeaux. His application to his bread is matched by Amélie’s dedication to her pâtisseries. Being an artist as well, her imagination produces small works of art that are keenly sought after by her band of homeward-bound commuters.

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Franck’s days begin at 4.00am when he opens the oven-door for the first batch of baguettes, kneaded and left to rise overnight in his proving cupboards; they’re destined to be set out for sale at 6.00am, when the first customers arrive specifically for some bread still warm from the oven. It’s noticeable when one enters the shop that this is a special boulangerie. There are indeed baguettes in racks as normal, but there’s more variety, and it’s those other loaves that create the most interest. Round, square, oblong and hob-shaped, they sit on the top shelf or on the counter, advertising by colour and texture that they might be made of rye flour, or spelt, or maize, or wholewheat, or a mix of any of the many flours that Franck has delivered each Wednesday, a process that involves a large lorry, a very narrow lane, much gesticulating of fists from other drivers and clothes covered in a fine white haze. He shrugs his shoulders at the thought of a problem, “If they want proper bread, then they have to suffer for five minutes and at least it is not frozen dough,” he said, and with that comment came the revelation that so many of the bakeries he knows have now fallen to, in his opinion, the lowest of a baking low-point; frozen dough.

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At this, I ask innocently how many ingredients he has in a standard baguette – une tradition (a loaf in development for over 400 years) – the reply came back, just three – salt, yeast and flour (and of course water, but he doesn’t consider this an ingredient as such). The flours vary, of course, and sometimes there is a dried fruit or two added, but the basic ingredient in everything is flour, and the magic is the steam oven for which the French bakery is so famous. Without it, the loaves would not be crisp outside and doughy within. Of course, even the flour itself has variations. Some is milled traditionally on a stone, and small particles of the grain remain in the grind, producing loaves that have a little shadow of colour, while the standard white flour he also uses is nowadays ground under huge steel rollers and nothing remains of any interest to a lover of whole grains.

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p1010507The variety of breads is broad for such a small operation, particularly when Franck also makes half-sized loaves for various applications – the demi baguette being just one. Pain, in its broadest term, is a fat loaf made with the modern white flour, which Franks buys in medium or high quality varieties. The same flour is used for the baguette and the demi. For the baguette de tradition, Franck pulls out the stone-milled flour, which also goes into any bread with campagne in its name. The baguette de tradition has its nose out in front as the best-selling bread in the shop, which is no surprise. But what did amaze me was that the pain complet (wholewheat bread) and pain d’épautre (spelt bread) are still simply regarded by many French people as a medical aid to those with digestive problems.

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As I said my goodbyes and turned to leave I learnt a final fact about these two relative newcomers;  they have a competitor up the road in a larger, newer premises. I asked Franck if they are still riding a wave of optimism, and he grins. “Mais oui, within three years I will buy the other bakery,” he says confidently. “Then I can make more bread for more people, and as for Amélie,” and he turned to look at his wife in the shop, busy serving a client, “she can have a bigger pâtisserie counter!”

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176 thoughts on “The Great French Baguette

  • lovely post – and pictures that have just made me hungry. My daughter has just come home for a cheeky week break from university. The first thing she said when she walked in the door, “I need a proper baguette, and none of the rubbish efforts they try to make in England”!!

    • That is exactly what Izzi says when she comes home! It’s all in the flour as I have learnt! Hope you have a wonderful vacances with the children and that you get some free time. If you feel like a day trip to the coast let me know! xx

  • It’s really good to know that the traditions are being carried in by the younger generation. I hope they succeed in buying their other bakery and expanding.

    • I totally agree, they have so much enthusiasm and their baking is fantastic, it’s really encouraging to see and it does show with hard work and dedication so much is indeed possible, because the hours are unsociable and the rewards are small, but they are doing what they love and working together. xx

  • We moved to France last year and we love walking to the boulangerie for our croissants and baguette each morning. We still haven’t plucked up the courage to test our limited French talking to the baker but he always greets us with a friendly smile and as you say dusty hands and apron!

    • Welcome to the blog Susan and thank you for taking the time to comment. No matter how basic your French do try and say bonjour and look up a few words so you can compliment him on his bread or mention the weather, just something to get started, you will be amazed then at how quickly your confidence will grow. No one minds if you make mistakes, everyone will love you for trying. xx

    • Welcome to France, Susan. Do try a few words, no matter how bad they might sound. You will be rewarded a million times over and there needs to be a first time. Bon courage.

      • That’s just what I said Nadia, try a little, your entire lives will be so enriched by feeling you are able to make even the simplest of conversation. We are all behind you wishing you bon courage xx

      • Thank you so much both Susan and Nadia for your advice and encouragement. You are of course right, and we will do it. I will practice a few words about the weather, don’t we always talk about the weather to break the ice? I know we are missing out on so much of life here, thank you x

  • Sitting here at work and I now want to go downstairs in the lift, slip across the road and sit at a small table with an espresso and a small ‘something’; a moment to watch the world go by in a blur of warm sunshine and aromatic scents from the hills behind the town. I’d like this to happen somewhere down south; perhaps in Nice, or Bandol. Yes, it can be Bandol for today. It’s a while since I was there. I’ll ignore the cool glass of rose that my girlfriend is drinking…..

    Alas, I can do none of these, for I am in London. Somewhat cold, and somewhat bleak in atmosphere. Instead I sit at my desk, sipping something quite horrendous from a plastic cup, and eyeing my neighbour’s pork pie with disparaging thoughts.

    • Hi Simon, Roddy loves pork pies, the one thing I always have to bring back from the UK! So we could swap a baguette here for a pork pie there! I’ll sit in the sun with a glass of Bandog rosé in Bandol any day! Sounds like it is time you headed over the channel and took your girlfriend away for a weekend break, but come via the tunnel so you can take back lots and lots of French goodies! xx

  • I am not certain Roddy would want to eat the pork pie I am looking at. I fear it is a souvenir of British Rail catering, not a wonderful memento from Mowbray!

    Thanks for the idea too. If we did that we’d have to stop for the night, I’m afraid. Is your little gite still open in winter for a one-night stay? You’re in a perfect position for a sunshine long weekend run…….I shall have to look up some Chunnel prices, I can see.

    Have a great day, and thank you for the post too. Great to see a mid-life crisis have a happy ending.

  • Torture! Here I sit at my desk in the early morning (not having had any breakfast) and find myself staring at the most delicious breads and pastries, knowing there is no possible chance of obtaining anything like it short of crossing the Pond. Ah well. No calories gained either. Sigh. Wonderful pictures and a great story about reinventing a life. Best of luck to both of them.

    • Hi Mary, as you say at least you are saving on the calories! I love seeing people reinvent themselves in this way and they are so nice with it, a genuinely lovely couple, working very hard. xx

  • Your young baker couple remind me exactly of many young couples I know here. They’ve often reinvented themselves in the food industry and are totally committed to producing the best product they can. They are often jolly good business people as well. I wish them all the best.

    I’m not surprised to hear that it is men who eat the pastries. Our French relief driver, an ex-chef, always pops off for a 10 o’clock pastry and often a 4 o’clock one as well while I am in a chateau with the clients. In Australia I noticed a few years ago that it is men in rural areas (including my father) who are really in to the cafe culture, which I have no doubt includes cake. I think it’s an alternative to popping into a bar or pub for a quick snifter like the previous generation might have in both countries.

    • Hi Susan, too funny, by contrast I was really surprised to think it was the men who ate the pastries, I always think of girls being the ones with a sweeter tooth! I have to admit in our village the men still seem to pop into the bar for their quick drink on the way home from work, it is always heaving every evening, same faces, same cars outside, same noisy chatter inside. By 7.30pm they’ve all gone home, by 8pm it’s closed, so French! xx

    • Thanks so much, they are such a lovely couple and so very hard working. The bakery is such a way of life here, but like everywhere the big supermarket chains are proving to be a serious threat, I hope sincerely that this French tradition does not die out. xx

  • Other than the amazing antiques, {I am an antiques dealer, after all!} I miss the bakeries in Europe most. There is nothing like the taste, smell and LOOKS of French breads, or any European bread. I was in Belgium last week, and almost fainted at the sights of the gorgeous loaves displayed in the windows of the bakeries, to say nothing of the pastries. Your bakery is beautiful, I am sure that it will continue to do an amazing business!! Wish I could fly in a couple of times per week to buy breads! xo Lidy

    • Hi Lidy, you forgot the wonderful, delicious Belgian chocolates too! The French boulangerie is indeed a feast for the eyes, every pastry and tart is a complete work of art and they are never too sweet, they look as if they should be but they aren’t, I think that is the real secret of a french pastry! The French Island of St Martin in the Caribbean flies in French flour on a daily basis from Paris so that the traditional baguettes can be made. xx

  • Our most local ‘baker’ has just closed after only two years because the locals were just not supportive enough. He was 3 kilometers down the road from us but we used him throughout the summer months when we had B&B guests; his bread was utterly delicious. Unfortunately, I think many of the french have now developed a taste for the ‘English’ style plastic bread. We have asked our guests about their preferences and many say they liked ‘wrapped’ loaves because they keep better and make good toast in the mornings (a point proved because often they eat this from our own breakfast selection basket in preference to a tradition or rustic baguette)! Quelle domage!!

    • Hi Penny, it’s sad isn’t it. There is a baker in another village near us, one I pass every day on the school run which has changed hands three times now in two years, it was closed for several months and then a new person arrived. I hope this time they manage to make a go of it, but I know for some reason they struggle and I know they have through traffic so who knows why. Our own village one and this one of Frank and Amélie by contrast thrive with a constant stream of customers, I really hope it continues this way. Interesting that many French like the traditional sliced loaf, I shall have to ask our friends which they prefer. xxx

    • Thanks so much, I always seem to ask this, but I am fascinated by different cultures and although I have been to Spain many times I don’t know it like I know France. Do you have bakeries in every village just a the French do? Is it very much a part of the culture? xx

      • Yes, every village has one or two ! as with you, some better than others , many things are very similar, but maybe the spanish are a little louder………. but bread and food are very much part of there culture, they live to eat and not eat to live, but always in a great family way, and they enjoy there life, they are generally very happy people ………………

  • We leave tomorrow for a week’s vacation in Normandy, and are already salivating at the thought of real French bread again (and excellent butter)! Lovely post, and the list of your baker’s ingredients made me smile, because I’ve been experimenting with bread at home with Ken Forkish’s book Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast.

    • Hi Adele, I have great fun making bread, flour, yeast, olive oil, salt and of course water. I think it is so much more enjoyable to eat something knowing what goes into it and process. The art of bread making is of course nothing new but I love that they stick to the old traditions. Have a wonderful week in Normandy, enjoy the rich Normandy butter, the cheeses, the cream and of course the Calvados! Bonnes vacances! xx

  • What a wonderful post and oh those breads and pastries! We (sort of) got to know the local boulangerie owner in Vaison in our short stay there and were just amazed at how hard they work. I really don’t think anything compares in the States. And, of course, the quality is so superb, day after day. The best baguette I have found here is, amazingly, from Panera!! For those of you over here, try it. Even my French friends here say it’s the best. Oh I do miss so many things of small village life.

    • There are so many really good things about village life, and life in these tiny French villages is no exception. I love popping into the bakery, one can learn so much, its quite often a centre of local gossip, my husband always discusses the rugby whenever a match has been played. xx

  • I’m about to go meet a friend at our local coffee/bakery (they were in Isle sur la Sorgue when we were over there..) that bills itself as authentic and “high end” bakery. No. It won’t even begin to compare to yours! Ah well, at least I can walk there and yes, sit outside.

    • At least you have a bakery! and the fact that you can walk there is a double bonus, so even though it may not be the same as here or the same quality I am sure you are going to enjoy every second of it, at least I hope you do! xx

  • What beautiful baked goods. They are truly a work of art. What dedication to get up at 4:00 a.m. every morning but well worth it to his customers I’m sure. Wish we could find bread like this in our town here in Florida. I enjoy your blog so much – how it gives a glimpse of life in the French countryside. I know I will never get to visit so this is the next best thing. Thanks for sharing about your daily life with us.
    Sue in Fl.

    • Hi Sue, thanks so very much. When we lived for a few years in Florida I started making my own bread, with the help of a bread machine, but still I made it every day, the children took a packed lunch to school and I used it for their sandwiches because I could never find a shop bought bread that didn’t contain honey or sugar or a list of ingredients a mile long! But think you have the sunshine and warmth now whereas we have the fire alight and it’s been rather a grey day! Always look on the bright side! xx

  • When we visit France (rarely) visits to the boulangerie are a must! On our last trip in July, we found a little bakery down the street from our hotel and wandered there each morning for bread and tea/coffee. Everything is always so beautifully presented. This is a wonderful post with interesting details about the bread industry in France. Convenience certainly doesn’t always result in quality! I’d love to stop by this couple’s shop!

    • Thanks so much Lorrie, everything is always so beautifully presented, I agree, each pastry and tart individual works of art and nothing is nearly as sweet as it looks. Looking around a boulangerie/patisserie is a feast for the eyes for sure. Hope you get to visit again before too long. xx

  • Fascinating post – and vive le boulangère…. they must be protected well as must all the artisans. I make all our bread here in the US because we just can’t cope with the measly offerings that even the frightfully expensive bijou pseudo-European shops sell. And I know the first thing we will do when we get back to France is nip into Didier for a loaf and Martine for whatever tasty pâtisserie she has on offer that day. Its a ritual and it feeds the soul! Xx

    • I totally agree, support one’s local bakery at all costs. Thank goodness the local village schools here all support their local boulangerie which I know is a huge help. I made all of our own bread when we lived in the US, with the help of a bread machine admittedly, but I couldn’t stand anything I bought, it was always full of sugar or honey and always had a list of ingredients a mile long. Here I still make it but usually only once a week or so, partly because the children eat lunch at school rather than needing sandwiches in a packed lunch and partly because the boulangerie is just so good and also has only the basic ingredients and also because it is, as you say, very much a way of life to pop in and chat to the baker, I wouldn’t know half of what was going on locally without my five minute chat! xx

  • Well, I live in the US & my husband and I are sensitive to gluten, not allergic, so we cheat once in a while. I believe the flour here is not the same as yours. So, I make almond bread, which is good, almonds are good for you. But, it doesn’t come near the taste of a wonderful slice of good bread. I loved the article & the gorgeous pictures.

    • I, too, an gluten sensitive but not celiac. And I’ve been experimenting lately with occasional “organic” items or with things made from Italian or French wheat. No firm results yet, but no bad effects, either.
      American wheat, so I’ve read, is sprayed with RoundUp just before harvest, and there’s some thought that people might be reacting to those chemicals. It seems to be an evolving query.

      • Fascinating Emm, and actually rather alarming that roundup is used on the wheat just before harvest. I wonder if you have tried spelt flour, I mentioned this to Deborah, when we were in the states I always baked with organic spelt flour just because it is much healthier and we all love the flavour. Spelt is very low in gluten so it might work well for someone who is gluten sensitive. Again it can be bought in either the white flour or wholewheat version, I have never eaten the white, but use wholewheat spelt for all my cakes, pizza dough, baking, cookies, everything and we all love it. xx

    • Hi Deborah, it is indeed all about the flour, it is quite impossible to make a baguette in the States the same as a baguette in France unless of course the flour is imported. I have never eaten almond bread. I wonder have you tried spelt bread? It is not gluten free, but spelt is an ancient grain that is naturally very low in gluten. I use spelt flour all the time, not for this reason, but because I love the flavour and it’s healthier. xx

    • Thanks Sarah, there really is a boulangerie pretty much in every village here, different people have their preferences as to which they prefer and the larger villages will have two. Towns of course have many, it’s a way of life. Just to look around is a feast for the eyes! xx

  • The flour is everything for French bread. When our beloved boulanger retired, he assured us that the new couple taking over would be using the same flour supplier.
    BTW, the boulangerie is the best place to get the most accurate weather forecast.

    • The most accurate forecast because all of the locals are in their discussing the weather? It’s funny the British are known for talking non stop about the weather but I find the French find the subject equally as fascinating! xx

  • The smell as you walk into a Boulanger….pure heaven. Very hard to resist.
    I do believe there is someone with very little will power living inside me….we seem to be always battling. One never knows who will win.

    Ali xx

    • Very hard to resist indeed. Isn’t that what they say if you are selling a house, fill your kitchen with the smell of freshly baked bread and freshly brewed coffee whenever you have a viewing! I believe the person with a lot of willpower is certainly winning, but you are on holiday and when on holiday….xxx

    • The French boulangerie is a feast for the eyes as well as the tastebuds. Every pastry and tart are total works of art. I loved the fact that this baker has even decorated with flour halloween faces on his loaves, of course that is a great hit with the children in a tradition that is starting to really catch on over here! xx

  • How have the French patisseries become so well loved if the French women don’t indulge outside of mealtimes?!! Beats me! They must have such strong wills! When we visited Giverny this summer, the lady running our B & B gave us THE most delicious breakfasts – always a different selection of fresh breads fetched that morning. Also home made jams of unusual flavours and cheeses and pastries as well!! I don’t eat a lot of bread, especially white, but I could not resist these fragrant offerings and so had one of each – and you know what? not a bloated tummy in sight!! That must say something for artisan breads. I have noticed if I eat home made artisan breads that my digestive system behaves!! I’ve just discovered a man who bakes bread not far from us – the smell when he (or his bread!!) arrives at our local farm shop!! Delicious. I wish Amelie and her husband huge success, long may they reign!

    • Evidently because of the men!!! I love all of the local breads and I particularly enjoy knowing what goes into them, I like to know what I am eating. The fact that everything is made with such dedication and passion is a real treat. It sounds as if you had a fabulous time in Giverny and I am so glad you have a local baking bread, that smell, it’s hard to beat. xx

  • Oh Susan, I feel like I’m putting on the pounds just looking at the pictures. I always seemed to be on a diet in the UK and I remember people bringing naughty things into the office and I would always ask to sniff the packet/bag to get a fix! I still look at the the patisseries here but I rarely indulge. Anyway it is a lovely story about your local but I wouldn’t fancy the early starts! xxx

    • Ha ha, well they certainly are a feast for the eyes! I don’t eat sugar, just because I gave it up as a bit of a joke to see if I could do it and stuck to it!!! But I still love looking at all the pastries and tarts, I don’t feel the urge to eat them at all but I do view them as individual works of art. The life of a baker is pretty tough, the early starts and long unsociable hours are certainly not for everyone, but I love the fact that this way of life is continuing and I hope it stays this way for generations to come. xx

  • What a talented twosome your boulangeres are, the patisseries look exquisite, it is evident they have a background in art. There are photographs on my blog of a patisserie in Lille, which I visited last week, I so wanted to bring some home but didn’t think they would travel well. By the way, who owns that wonderful car?

    • Hi Fiona, I thought just the same, there is much evidence of art in the patisseries and also in the bread, everything looks so stunning. Partly because of their background and partly I think because they are so passionate and dedicated in what they do. Shame you didn’t take some home, but I imagine squashed they wouldn’t look quite the same! I have no idea who owns the car, it just happened to be there, but it’s quite a stunner isn’t it! xx

  • I can smell those baguettes and taste those pastries – they all look so good and what a lovely couple, I wish them every success

    • Imagine what it’s like to be inside the boulangerie, it’s a feast for the eyes and the scent is intoxicating, once can see why they say the smell of freshly baked bread helps sell houses! Xx

  • Oh, what wonderful photos. If anything was going me make me yearn for France it’s beautiful boulangerie photographs – merci Madame! And thanks also for the interesting story. Here’s to Franck and Amélie, and to their much deserved and continued success!

  • I just loved this, Susan. The story of Franck and Amèlie and their huge variety of bread and pâtisseries…truly romantic. Reminded me a bit of Joanne Harris’s “Chocolat”. A good bread is one of the most satisfying things to eat and I thank heaven I have no digestive irritation to it….which I am sure in many cases comes from bread incorrectly prepared and baked. I think I should struggle with such a lovely bakery if it were near me, would not be able to keep away. That said, I bake baguette at home very often, it is such a joy to do and so nice to send with my son to school for his lunch. It was interesting to note the price of the baguette 0.90 euros – our local bakery charges R9,00 and that is more or less, all things being stable, in keeping with the exchange rate! 🙂
    ❤ Jeanne

    • Hi Jeanne, I still make my own bread quite often and when we were in the USA I made bread every day, like you, for the school lunch boxes! Interesting that our baguettes here are the same price as yours. I believe a classic French baguette in the UK is around 1.30 euros or more (on the current exchange rate). I adored Chocolat, makes me want to watch the movie again just reading this, actually I loved both the book and the film. Xx

  • Oh my heavens! There’s nothing like good artisanal read not to mention the pâtisseries. I think I gained 5 lbs. just looking at all those luscious photos. Thank you for the visual paradise, my hips aren’t so happy thinking about it though-they can expand just looking! 😉

  • An excellent post–thanks, and thanks for rekindling my addiction to made-in-France baguettes and croissants. The only way this addiction can be satisfied where I live is to buy–horrors!–frozen unbaked croissants from Trader Joe’s or William-Sonoma, then proof them overnight, then bake them. To make them from scratch is about a 32-step process!

    • Hi Judy, I have tried making croissants when we lived in the US. It was a disaster! and I have to confess I succumbed and bought pain au chocolat frozen from Williams Sonoma too! So enjoy them with a good café au lait, and of course it is quite acceptable here to dip your croissants in! xx

    • It’s hard to walk out with just a baguette. But even harder is to get said baguette home in one piece! It’s just too tempting to nibble off the end, evidently I have no willpower! xx

  • I have to use the word ‘beautiful’ when looking at these loaves of bread and pastries. This is certainly a happy ever after ending that started when their world crashed. It certainly made me think about that old saying – one door closes and another opens 🙂

    • It certainly does and it also goes to show what one can do with a great deal of hard work and effort. This is certainly not a get rich profession and the hours are long and quite unsociable, but they still love what they do and they get to work together in their own home. xx

  • I loved his comment about ‘real’ bread. His loaves look great – and reasobably priced too, using the time honoured practice of slow rising. So many bakers now cheat and use frozen dough. I must mention that a famous and very large supermarket chain in Australia was selling sourdough breads and various country loaves in their bread section. It was discovered that the frozen dough came from Ireland!!! It goes to show that a lot of people will eat anything if it looks good- they didn’t taste so good though and gave me severe indigestion.There is another theory about that many modern ‘issues’ people have with bread and wheat lies in the method of production and the failure to let bread rise slowly or overnight. This baker deserves to do well. Did you mention which village this pretty boulangerie is in?

    • Hi Francesca, fascinating, and Ireland to Australia is two flights, why would someone import dough all that distance, the mind boggles. I think it is good that many people are starting to be more aware about what they eat and are starting to demand more information about what goes into their food and where it comes from. The bakery is in the little village of Saint Agnant in the Charente Maritime. I am quite sure that modern “quick” methods have caused many of the problems people have with bread because bread and flour has been eaten for thousands of years. xx

  • This post was completely unfair. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been to France and eaten a proper baguette. This post was a reminder of the deprivation I live every day with the sad state of North American bread. Even the ‘artisanal’ breads don’t come close to that unique special French baguette.
    … sooooo, the secret weapon is a steam oven? hmmmm….

    • I quite agree, when we were in the States I made our bread, I couldn’t cope with the sweetened variety on sale and also the long list of ingredients for a simple loaf. But I didn’t have a steam oven! Just a good old trusty bread machine. Xx

  • You have made me smile . . . At the time ‘I grew up’ one settled on one’s occupation/profession some time during high school and if you changed your mind later perchance your were a ‘flighty’ and ‘doubtful’ character. One profession in a lifetime. So great to see people making later and various professional changes and achieving both success and happiness. Marvellous story: enviable goods to purchase . . . must admit I love spelt bread and sesame and soy and very, very grainy multigrain . . . but a fresh baguette would be lovely indeed to have in my hand at the moment . . .

    • So much has changed, I can just hear my father being proud of them but also amazed that someone made such a drastic change at the same time. I do love spelt flour, I use it all the time, for cakes, cookies any baking I do for the children and pizza dough. White flour just doesn’t do it for me! Xx

  • I’m dying here looking at that bread! I think I gained all my weight back from just looking at all those baked goods! Bonaparte and I have our own favorite places in Paris for baguettes. Mine is Desgranges. Their baguettes are so crispy and salty outside and ridiculously chewy on the inside. For Bonaparte, he is a fan of Boulangerie Carton on Rue de Buci. He misses those late afternoon walks to get our baguette for dinner. I’m sure next month he will be at Carton every day! I am craving a decent baguette right now!

    • Fortunately we cannot gain weight through the Internet or else we would all be the size of a house! Even just entering the boulangerie is a feast for the eyes. When are you back in Paris? Xx

    • Hi Eileen, the aroma when you walk into a boulangerie, it truly sets the tastebuds tingling, it is quite intoxicating, isn’t this why they say you the smell of freshly baked bread helps to sell houses? I can quite believe it! Xx

  • Oh, my, I am so envious of your access to such wonderful baked treats. Nothing like that here in the area that we live in – they look so delicious I would have to try a different one each day!

    • HI Karen, they are truly delicious and indeed such a treat, but also such a way of life here, the simple baguette is just that, a simple baguette, just three ingredients but loved by all. The patisseries are miniature works of art, it seems almost a crime to eat them! Xx

  • I’m behind on reading posts, but I knew I had to get far enough back my reader to get to this one and am I glad I did! Or maybe not. Now you have me longing for both the bread and the pastries. Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelp!!

    janet

    • Hi Janet, well I am so glad you did go back far enough! But I also apologise if you are drooling! I can tell you I do that every single time I walk into the boulangerie, it takes a lot of willpower to live here!!! Have a lovely weekend xx

  • Oh goodness how I loved this post! I learned so very much. J’adore the photo of the period car in front of the bakery to really bring home the history of this long standing location.
    I’ve never even heard of a steam oven. Is it ancient? Valuable I am sure……as well as very particular possibly. He is probably expert at working on them by this point.
    I love it too that she can express her artistic talents and desires through the patisseries and creative patterns on the breads.
    The teddy bears – fantastic!

    • Her artistic talents know no bounds, she actaully paints with red wine, but she hasn’t done any for years as she doesn’t have the time, but she tells me this was her chosen material at art school! xx

  • Oh – and was always curious how the French population was not constantly constipated from all of the lovely white bread! And they must fall victim to that after all, hence the whole wheat and spelt, for ” digestive” reasons! Yes, indeed.

  • If our autumn foliage is my regions’ revenge, these breads and pastries are France’s revenge on the food in the rest of the world! I’m going to have a very difficult time buying bread in my local area, having seen these glorious loaves!

  • What a wonderfully delicious visit to your boulangerie! Merci beaucoup!
    Here in South Australia we can only dream of amazing bread like in your photos, despite a few ” French” bakeries who do quite a good effort, but it’s just not the same!
    We have a sourdough craze happening here … Is this also in France? From your post I gathered that the breads displayed are made with yeast…. Are any sourdough?
    Thank you so much for taking us on this lovely journey and treating us!

  • I would find it very difficult indeed to leave this bakery without several goodies! What beautiful displays! Clearly a lot if work and love go into their baking. A little hunk of their bread would go nicely now with the last of my coffee. You made me hungry again! Thank you fior this lovely tour. Xoxo

    • Nancy it can be a bit of a problem! The hardest part however, is having bought one’s baguette, getting it home in one piece! That smell, it’s just too tempting not to nibble off an end! Have a fabulous Sunday xxx

  • What I love here, is that these two transform something as basic and ephemeral as bread (and sweets) into something truly beautiful. It’s a good way to leave their stamp on the world–day by day, loaf by loaf. I hope they have all the success they want (and not so much that they cannot keep up). Your blog is a delightful peek into French life. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much Brenda, so happy you are enjoying following along. As you say it is always a fine line between success and then getting so big that it creates one’s downfall. I am sure they will work it out, they are business people as well as bakers. xx

  • Bonjour à toutes et à tous, un grand merci pour vos adorables commentaires et vos encouragements. Nous adorons fabriquer nos pains et gâteaux pour le plaisir de nos clients, c’est un travail très dur et très prenant ,mais vos réponses et vos émotions partagées nous donnes l’envie de continuer pour vous donner de beaux produits à déguster en famille ou entre amis.
    Un énorme merci à Suzanne et Roddy pour ce petit reportage sur notre modeste boulangerie -pâtisserie.
    Un big Kiss fromage France à vous qui avez pris le temps de laisser ces adorables commentaires. 😉
    Franck et Amelie, le boulanger et la pâtissivre.

  • Dear Susan
    Your post makes me feel like that fresh croissant. and plus “Chérie, n’oublies pas le pain!” hahaha too true, en tout cas vous etes en france Susane, n’est-ce-pas? haha. Wonderful blog post, I enjoyed it. Juli

    • Thanks so much, so happy you have found the blog and are following along, just published a new post a few minutes ago. How often do you get over to Normandy, I spent much of my childhood there and love it. xx

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