Today, May 16th, marks the beginning of a week-long festival that proves to me once again, that I was indeed born in the wrong country!
Yes, all across France, the La Fête du Pain (festival of bread) has kicked off. La Fête du Pain which takes place annually, was established to honour Saint-Honoré – the Patron Saint of bakers, and of course to celebrate the past and future of French bread.
From family events to special markets and bread parties, the French certainly know how to celebrate the star attraction. The aim of La Fête du Pain is to show customers why artisan bread is the preferred choice rather than industrially produced offerings. With more than 2000 traditional artisan bread shops in France, the choice for artisan offerings is still strongly preferred within local villages and cities. These traditional breads are baked used individual and proven recipes crafted in traditional methods by boulangeries.
Interestingly, while bread from the supermarkets is of high quality, the dough is often deep-frozen prior to being baked on premise. By law, shopkeepers selling bread of this kind are not permitted to refer to themselves as boulangeries.
Be sure to check the opening times of local boulangeries whilst travelling throughout France and ensure you get in prior to midday or you’ll likely miss out altogether. The French love their bread – in fact 12 million people per day in France visit a bread shop of some kind.
My choice: grab a fresh baguette, some cheeses, chocolates and Champagne and find a quiet spot for a picnic. It may sound like a cliché, but no one does picnics like the French!
Your guide to French breads:
Baguette: translated means literally ‘a stick’. The most popular type of Bread in France.
Couronne: bread baked in the shape of a ring.
Flute: twice the size of a baguette.
Batard: half-length normal loaf
Ficelle: very long and thin loaf, best eaten straightaway due to the thinness and likelihood of drying out.
Pain de Campagne: traditional country-style bread loaf.
Brioche: sweet bread (best laden with butter and fresh honey-but that’s my personal choice!)
pain aux cereals – wholemeal
pain de seigle – rye
pain au levain – sourdough