After smelling, crackling, tasting, and scrupulously examining an interminably long row of baguettes, a panel of judges whittled down a list of 174 contenders, all vying for the Grand Prize for best baguette in Paris, to just one.
Tuesday's competition crowned Pascal Barillon the best baguette maker in Paris this year, a competition that turns humble bakers into instant celebrities and attracts snaking lines of customers outside their bakery every day.
Perhaps just as symbolic as the Eiffel Tower, the edible icon of Paris is an institution not just for tourists, but for the French who also rhapsodize about the best baguettes in the city.
Barillon, who owns Au levain d'antan in the Montmartre area of Paris, won the grand prize at the 17th annual competition, trumping 173 other bread batons in categories of appearance, doneness, innards, smell and taste.
In addition to winning €4,000, it will be Barillon's baguettes which will be served all year to French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
The panel of judges included artisanal bakers, food journalists and previous award winners.
Au levain d'antan
6 rue des Abbesses
+33 1 42 64 97 83