How do you imagine a Frenchman to look like? Thanks to Disney and other romanticising people in the industry, chances are you immediately picture a man or woman with a striped T-shirt, a berette on the head and a baguette in the hand. And maybe, somewhere in a wicker basket which they carry around at all times, a piece of cheese and a bottle of wine. Nothing to do with reality, of course, but it’s no secret that a good baguette is something all French people can appreciate. Cliché or not.
When you’re visiting or living in France, bread is a daily essential. You start with it over breakfast with a bit of butter and marmelade, at noon you enjoy half a baguette with cheese (and butter of course) and even during dinner, a bit of leftover baguette is the ideal way to finish your plate by getting all the sauce off. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that every Frenchman has his of her favourite place to buy a baguette – some of them more or less salty, some more or less baked, some fluffier or less fluffy on the inside.
1. Baguette for winners
To put the importance of a good baguette in the spotlight, the city of Paris organises a “Grand Prix de la Baguette” competition every year. Bakers from all over Paris send in their best traditional baguette and after some no doubt very hard decision making – which includes judging the crust, the texture, the baking method and so on – a winner is chosen. The winner then becomes the president’s artisan breadmaker for a year and the kitchens of the city also get supplied by the winner of the competition.
This year, 126 baguettes were judged and Tharshan Selvarajah’s baguette appeared to be the best one. The Sri Lankan, who came to France at 21 after doing a year of law school and learned to make bread while on the job, also receives a prize of 4.000 euros. Those wanting to try the winning baguette for themselves can do so at his bakery Au Levain des Pyrénées, situated on 44 Rue des Pyrénées in the 20th district, for 1,35 euros. Tharshan himself suggests you try a well-baked tradition with some cheese and charcuterie, but of course you are free to experiment for yourself.
2. This year’s best baguettes in Paris
- Tharshan Selvarajah – « Au Levain des Pyrénées » 44 rue des Pyrénées (20e)
- Thierry Guyot « Boulangerie-pâtisserie Guyot » – 28 rue Monge (5e)
- Jocelyn Lohezic « Maison Lohezic » – 143 rue de Courcelles (17e)
- Benjamin Turquier « Tout Autour du Pain » – 134 rue de Turenne(3e)
- Florian Bleas « Aux Délices de Vaugirard » 48 rue Madame (6e)
- Frank Tombarel « Le Grenier de Félix » – 64 avenue Félix Faure (15e)
- Kilani Ounissi « Boulangerie Kilani » – 191 rue du faubourg Saint-Antoine (11e)
- Maxime Julien « Les Saveurs de Lévis » – 41 rue de Lévis (17e)
- Mohkam Karoui « Le Temps d’une Gourmandise » – 94 boulevard de Port-Royal (5e)
- Kouni Elayeb « Le Délice de Bagnolet » – 42 boulevard Mortier (20e)