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Facts about French bread/pain

  • The French have been making long thin bread since the mid 18th century and before that long and wide loaves were made since Louis XIV.
  • The 'baguette' (means stick or baton) become the iconic symbol of French bread and France in the 20th century when a law was passed in 1920 banning bakers from starting work before 4am (and no later than 10pm), which made it difficult for them to have fresh bread for the morning, so they made the fast-baking baguette as a solution.
  • The shape of the baguette allows the maximum amount of dough to be exposed directly to heat during the baking process, which produces the thick crust.
  • A standard baguette has a diameter of about 5-6 cm and its length is 55-65 cm. There are strict guidelines for baking baguettes e.g. they need to weight 250-300g.
  • Ten million baguettes are sold in France every year.
  • The average Frenchman eats a half a baguette a day, compared with almost a whole baguette in 1970 and more than three in 1900.
  • National law dictates that ‘French’ bread should contain only flour, yeast, salt and water.
  • Besides baguettes, other French bread types include the couronne (ring shaped), the flute (twice the size of a baguette), the batard (a half-length normal loaf) and the ficelle (long, thin loaf).
  • As well as white bread boulangeries also sell wholemeal breads (pain complet or aux céréales), rye bread (pain de seigle), sourdough bread (pain au levain), and a sweet bread called brioche.
  • March 21st is National French Bread Day and a national festival happens around the feast of St Honore (patron saint of bakers) in May.
  • France has the highest density of bakeries in the world (32,000), less than the 54,000 in 1950.
  • Every year there is a competition in Paris for the best baguette baker.
  • Bread is such an important part of French cuisine/culture, laws up until 2014 prevented all bakers in Paris taking summer holidays at the same time.
  • For boulangeries in Australia, go to:
  • For a recipe to make baguettes at home:

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