The French are known for valuing a work life balance and now one hardworking baker is paying the price.
Cédric Vaivre (on left in pic below) was handed the rather severe punishment for opening his bakery seven days a week during the summer of 2017.
But it wasn't long before the local labour and employment authorities caught up with him, slapping him with the fine for not complying with a rule that imposes a weekly day of rest on businesses in the area.
However inhabitants and indeed even the mayor of Lusigny-sur-Barse, a town of 2,000 inhabitants on the tourist route of the lakes of the forest of Orient in the Aube department of north-central France, have come out in defence of the baker.
“In a tourist area, it seems essential that we can have businesses open every day during the summer. There is nothing worse than closed shops when there are tourists,” Mayor Christian Branle told the French press.
“You have to have some common sense, we are in an area where there isn't a lot of competition […] let people work if visitors expect the service,” he added.
In the Aube department the weekly closure of bakeries is governed by two decrees dating from 1994 and 2000.
However the decrees specify that exceptions to the rule can be made.
And until 2016, Vaivre's bakery was one of those exceptions however this status was not renewed in 2017.
Baker Cedric Vaivre. Photo: Screenshot/TF1
So far a petition to support Vaivre, launched in late February, has garnered nearly 400 signatures, with the situation just starting to get national attention.
The industrious baker hasn't yet paid his fine as he holds out hope that it may still be lowered or cancelled, according to the French press.
This isn't the first time bakers in France have fallen foul of France's strict laws on opening times by selling their baguettes every day of the week.
In 2015, the same fate befell four French bakers in the south west.
“We are business owners who are disgusted to be in France,” baker Stephane Moreau told 20 Minutes news site at the time. “We are going to work less and therefore pay less VAT and less payroll taxes and if necessary we will have to lay off staff.”
Another of the convicted bakers told RMC radio: “I have been left with a criminal record just for baking bread. Tomorrow I will have to lay people off.”
“France is doing everything to find jobs for those who are looking but me, because I make bread, I have to lay people off,” said the baker.
Some however said it was only right that baker's be forced to close, despite a loss of takings.
Eric Scherrer from the retail trade union CLIC-P, told The Local that French laws must be respected.
“There is a rule in place that says bakers and other professions in the food industry must close for at least one day a week. It's because it's an artisanal trade where people can work a lot, much more than the legal limits,” he adds.
“These people need to have a rest day each week. We can't just allow them to work non-stop. It's absolutely necessary that both bosses and employees have a day of rest.”