Finding a baguette in Paris during the summer can be tricky. It’s still a tradition for Paris bakeries to shut for the whole of July or August, leaving only the occasional bread shop open to serve the needs of those residents who don’t have the luxury of escaping the city.
But it has emerged that the city’s authorities have the bread-eating public’s interests at heart: French media reported that Paris bakeries are so essential that they are “requisitioned” by the state, in a holdover from the French Revolution.
Céline Touré discovered the law when she took over a bread shop in the 19th district of Paris last year and was astonished when told that she would not be able to go on holiday this month.
“I had no idea at all about these rules. We wanted to close in August, but it would have been complicated for the neighbourhood,” she told Agence France-Presse.
A baker in the 11th arrondissement told The Independent that “there has to be a certain number of bakeries open in a certain radius. We work things out with the other local bread shops”.
The city’s authorities say that because fresh bread is such a staple food, there was a need to ensure its supply.
The point about French bread is that it doesn’t keep, so the demand is constant. If you buy a baguette – or a grand pain or a ficelle or any other of the many varieties in the average bakery – on one day, you can be sure that it will be as hard as nails the next.
The requisitioning of the bakeries was ordered after a Paris baker, Denis François, was hung from a lamppost in 1789 by a starving mob.