There are many cliches that come to mind when one thinks of France: stripy jumpers and berets, 'oh la, la!', and people wandering the streets with a baguette under their arm. When I first came to France, I was amazed to see that at least the third of these is no cliche, but a daily sight in Paris, where you are never more than 300 metres from a boulangerie. In fact, there is a boulangerie opposite my apartment, and I have made a daily ritual out of the three-minute trip across the road to buy my baguette.
My boulangerie is a family-run enterprise and is open six days a week «de l'aube au crépuscule». The offending closing day is actually Saturday, which means that Sunday begins with the smell of fresh bread and viennoiserie wafting up from the street below. A sign in the shop proudly proclaims that all their bread is made from Sel de Guérande, salt produced in a tradition manner in the Loire estuary.
The baguettes themselves are made by hand in the traditional method, crusty on the outside, soft in the middle, going stale in less than 24 hours, which fortunately means a daily trip to the boulangerie and starting all over again.