The Parisian baguette, queen of French bread

In Paris, the baguette is an indispensable part of everyday life. Here’s how to recognize it and where to find it in the French capital.

Sélection de pains, Gontran Cherrier, Paris © OTCP - DR

With its lovely caramel colour, crusty exterior and soft crumb interior, the baguette is one of the emblems of France, and especially Paris. What’s more, this culinary treasure is one of life’s affordable little pleasures!

A bit of history...

The experts don’t all agree on its origins: some think that it was imported from Vienna; others, think that it was invented by the bakers of Napoleon … All that is known for sure is that the baguette became widespread in Paris in the 1920s.

In fact, as a result of a law in 1919 on working at night, bakers were prevented from working the dough before 4am in the morning. In order to provide customers with bread in time, they opted for long thin-shaped bread that required a shorter period in which to rise and be cooked than a round loaf. That is how the baguette came into being!

La Tradition, the ‘Rolls-Royce’ of baguettes

In the 1980s, French people were less and less enamoured of the ‘standard’ baguette: lack of flavour, too white inside … It was therefore time to restore the noble reputation of this flower of Parisian gastronomy.

This was accomplished with the ‘bread decree’ of 1993, which regulates the appellation and making of the ‘baguette de tradition française’. Its profile: an updated recipe from the 1930s, with a short kneading process, long fermentation, and the use of flour without additives.

How to choose?

Rustique, bûcheron, forestière … With all the different varieties of bread available, it is often difficult to make a choice. To find the ideal baguette, let your senses guide you. It should feel heavy in your hand. You should be able to hear a light cracking of the crust under your fingers. The bread should emit a good smell of wheat. The crust should be nicely golden and the crumb inside, with irregular alveoli, should be a cream colour. These are the ingredients for success.

Sélection de pains, Gontran Cherrier, Paris © OTCP - DR

The best baguette in Paris

Since 1994, the Grand Prix for the ‘baguette de tradition française’ is awarded for the best baguette in Paris according to five criteria: aspect, baking, crumb, smell and taste. In 2019, the happy winner is Fabrice Leroy, baker at Leroy-Monti. The award gives him the privilege of supplying the Elysée Palace with bread for a whole year.

Some good addresses

Among the many great baguettes in Paris, don’t miss the baguette at the Grenier à Pain, the Baguette Monge at Eric Kayser, the Baguette Paysanne with the sour flavours of the famous ‘maison’ Lenôtre or the Retrodor at Raoul Maeder. And to vary the pleasures, go to Gontran Cherrier to discover a black baguette with cuttlefish ink and nigella seeds. A change of flavour guaranteed!

Lenôtre Victor Hugo Member

Gastronomy (caterers, confectioners, etc.)
48 avenue Victor Hugo, Paris, 75016

Everyday, all year round, the best of takeaway gastronomy is at Lenôtre: golden pastries, home-made chocolates, festive menus,......

Gontran Cherrier

Gastronomy (caterers, confectioners, etc.)
22 rue Caulaincourt, Paris, 75018

The baker/craftsman Gontran Cherrier comes from a family of bakers and confectioners. He has also trained in the best schools.......

Le Grenier à pain

Gastronomy (caterers, confectioners, etc.)
38 rue des Abbesses, Paris, 75015

After 2010, le Grenier à Pain on la rue de Abbesses was renovated, and in 2015, won the Best Baguette in Paris award. The same......

Le Pain Quotidien Saint Honoré

Restaurant original for its venue or entertainment
18 place du Marché Saint-Honoré, Paris, 75001

For a tasty treat at any time of the day from breakfast to dinner, in a laid-back, friendly atmosphere, visit Le Pain Quotidien......

Maison Eric Kayser

Gastronomy (caterers, confectioners, etc.)
8 rue Monge, Paris, 75005

8 rue Monge is the historic address of the Maison Kayser, in the heart of the Latin Quarter. This is where the artisan/baker Eric......

Raoul Maeder

Gastronomy (caterers, confectioners, etc.)
158 boulevard Berthier, Paris, 75017

Raoul Maeder is artisan baker who has carried on the family tradition passed on from generation to generation, not to mention his......