Paris Is Serious About Bread

This week marked the 18th “Grand Prix de la Baguette de Tradition Française de la Ville de Paris”, the annual competition to select the best baguette in Paris.  Every year a panel of judges—mostly bakers and a few food celebrities—gather on the Ile Saint Louis to deliberate over who makes the best baguette in Paris, not an easy feat considering there are roughly 1,200 boulangeries in Paris.

The baguettes being judged are not just any baguettes, but baguettes de tradition, bread which according to a French law enacted in 1993 must be mixed, kneaded, leavened and baked on premises, without ever being frozen. They must be additive-free and can contain only four precious ingredients–wheat flour, water, salt and yeast.  So, if you are going to buy a baguette, make sure it’s a baguette de tradition.

Unfortunately, asking for a “une tradition” doesn’t guarantee you’ll get good bread.  It may seem hard to believe, but a lot of mediocre bread can be found in France.  Walk into your average corner bakery and if you don’t know what to look for, or to ask for, you risk walking away with a very average, and at times inedible, baguette.That said, every neighborhood has a great boulangerie, you just need to know where to go and to be willing to walk a few blocks out of your way to find one.

So, how do you judge a great baguette? A true baguette is thin, measures between 50 and 70 centimeters and weighs between 240-300 grams.

1st Place: Pascal Barillon, Au Levain d’Antan” 6, rue des Abbesses, Paris 18th

And the runners up are:

2-Gaétan ROMP, 14 rue de la Michodière Paris 2nd

3-Pascal JAMIN « les saveurs du 20eme, 120 rue de Bagnolet Paris 20th

4-Gontran CHERRIER 22 rue Caulaincourt, Paris 18th

5-Le Fournil du village, M.RISSER 12 place J.B Clément Paris 18th

6-Les Gourmandises d’Eiffel, Gilles LEVASLOT, 187 rue de Grenelle Paris 7th

7-Jean-Noël JULIEN, 75 rue Saint-Honoré Paris 1st

8-Philippe MARACHE, 92 av de la République Paris 11th

9-Philippe BOGNER, 204 rue des Pyrénées Paris 20th

10-Le Grenier à pain Saint-Amand 33 bis rue Saint-Amand Paris 15th

 

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