Anyone who has been in Paris during the summer has likely cursed the endless shuttered bakeries and closed-up restaurants.
It’s no secret that the French still prioritise leisure time
over round-the-clock convenience. Yet recently, Jean- Louis Hecht, a French
baker, decided that hungry citizens no longer needed to suffer in the off
hours. His solution? A baguette vending machine, which he has described as ‘the
bakery of the future’. Pop in a euro and a partially cooked, refrigerated
baguette is loaded into a 200°C oven, baked for 15 seconds and then dropped
into the machine’s dispensing tray.
Convenient? No doubt about it. Yet can a vending machine
really produce this staple of French life? Curious, I decided to try it out at
the Place du Colonel Fabien. Sure enough, the bread came out warm and crusty,
just like a regular baguette. But the real test for any aspiring French bread
is the overnight exam, when you wrap your half-eaten baguette in a towel, stick
it in the cupboard and then remove it the next morning for breakfast. Good
bread will keep its freshness sans problème. And it’s here, I have to say, that
Hecht’s baguette didn’t perform too well. My verdict: the bread was too hard. I
had cereal for breakfast instead.
Christopher Pitts is
the co-author of Lonely Planet’s Paris guide. He’s from the USA but has lived
in Paris since 2001.
This article was
published in partnership with Lonely Planet