The best baguette in Paris
The best baguette in Paris from Boulangerie Mauvieux. (Kim Laidlaw Adrey)
Along with cheese, berets and wine, the humble baguette is a globally-recognised French icon. And every year, one talented baker is awarded the Meilleur Prix de Baguette de Paris -- a 4,000 euro prize for the best baguette in Paris.
On 2 May this year, the competition was won by baker Sébastien Mauvieux, whose boulangerie (bakery) can be found at 159 rue Ordener in the 18th arrondissement, just a 10-minute walk from the Sacré-Coeur.
The competition, now in its 18th year, is open to bakers throughout Paris, and 2012 saw 168 entrants. Requirements are strict: the baguette must be between 55cm and 65cm long, and must weigh between 250g and 300g. The jury, composed of bakers (including the winner of last year’s title), professionals in the food industry, journalists and six lucky volunteers, scrutinise each participant’s loaf. Each entry is judged on taste, aroma and appearance. The perfect specimen should have a golden and crunchy crust, with a contrastingly soft and spongy white interior -- and should spring back into shape when squeezed.
This is the third time in a row -- and the fifth time in six years -- that the prize has been won by a baker in the 18th arrondissement. The Boulangerie Mauvieux has, since the announcement of the prize, seen people coming from near and far to get a taste of their award-winning baguette tradition, an artisan-style baguette. Previously, Mauvieux was also awarded the prize for best croissant in Paris.
The criteria -- the ingredients and how it is made -- for this baguette tradition (which is different from an ordinary baguette) are laid out in detail by a decree that was signed by the French prime minister in 1993. But the link between government and bread goes deeper than that. As part of his reward, Mauvieux, wins the honour of being the official baker for France’s newly elected president, François Hollande, delivering 15 of his baguettes tradition to the Elysée Palace every day.
Kim Laidlaw Adrey is the Paris Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes unlockparis.blogspot.com.