Bread is a staple of French gastronomy, but due to a decline in baguette consumption, the French Bakers’ Lobby has launched a campaign to get people eating more loaves.
The campaign’s slogan, “Coucou, tu as pris le pain?” (“Hey there, did you pick up the bread?”), has been on billboards, bus shelters and bakery windows throughout the country since June in an attempt to get people to purchase a baguette on their way home each night.
The reduction in bread consumption is arguably down to a shift in eating patterns, with people snacking on the go instead of sitting down to a meal. Furthermore, fewer bakeries are making baguettes in the traditional way, relying on frozen bread to save costs.
So when you head to France, the best way to ensure you’re getting an authentic loaf is to look out for the word boulanger or boulangerie on the shop front – this means the bread is prepared on site. Good bakeries will offer a variety of bread, including a baguette tradition, an artisan-made loaf containing just four ingredients (flour, water, yeast, salt) and no additives.
In Paris, head to an authentic independent bakery, like one of the winners of the annual best baguette competition, such as Sébastien Mauvieux (159 rue Ordener, Montmatre), or Left Bank bakery Au Paradis Du Gourmand (156 Rue Raymond Losserand). Despite being a chain, the Eric Kayser bakeries are praised for their range of superlative baguettes, with additions such as poppy seeds or sesame. And for something all together more modern, Gontran Cherrier – who is one of the stars on the French TV show La Meilleure Boulangerie de France (France’s Best Baker) – brings a twist to the French classic with black squid ink and yellow curry baguettes, sold at his two Right Bank bakeries.
Kim Laidlaw is the Paris Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes www.unlockparis.com.