Why finding a baguette in Paris could be tough

Oliver Gee
Oliver Gee - [email protected]
Why finding a baguette in Paris could be tough
You might be lucky to find a baguette in Paris this month. Photo: AFP

For the first time since the French Revolution, bakers in Paris are allowed to take the whole summer off, meaning you might just struggle (have to walk a little further) to find a fresh baguette this month.


The topic of bread is not taken lightly in France. Indeed, it's no surprise that the stereotype of the French sees them walking with a baguette under one arm - because that is often the reality. 
And up until this summer, officials have had historic laws ensuring that Parisians have access to their daily bread. 
Back in 1790 during the French revolution, authorities passed a law meaning that all bakeries would have to report to authorities exactly when they planned to close their shop in order to ensure some were always open and locals could at least get some bread.  
The rule meant that out of the hundreds of bakeries in Paris and surrounding suburbs, roughly half would close in July and half in August.
And those closed would be forced to put up a closure notice and alert baguette hunters to where they can find the nearest open bakery.
And every summer since, this law has remained in place, with around 20 to 30 bakers each year being hit with fines for not playing along with the rules (albeit only of between €11 and €33).
The lack of fresh baked treats is taken so seriously by the French that the Town Hall released an interactive guide last year for where to find the open bakeries in Paris. 
But last winter the historic rule was scrapped as part of the French government's simplification drive aimed at cutting red tape and making life easier for businesses.
This is the first summer since the holiday rule was relaxed meaning the boulangers of Paris have the freedom to take off as much time as they want, whenever they want. 
And the move hasn't gone unnoticed among The Local's readers. Facebook follower Lynn Segal said authorities should reconsider their move.
"I went out to get a baguette a few days ago and the two closest boulangeries to me were both closed for the first time ever," she said. 
"Then the next day a woman on the street stopped me asking where the closest (open) one was. Only the 'bad' ones stayed open."
During August, the entire city tends to go silent in August as swathes of the population leave for vacation and scores of shops and restaurants close for the month. 
As for bread-hungry Parisians, all they can do is hope their local boulangeries won't be enjoying too much holiday... or wait until September. 
*This article has been ever so slightly amended so as not to give anyone, or at least certain members of the British press, the idea that Parisians are about to storm boulangeries and guillotine holidaying bakers, due to a shortage of bread, the like of which hasn't been seen since 1789.
Paris 'closes' for August but how long will it last?


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