the baguette on my table

by Sharon Santoni


Buying a baguette here in France is about so much more than simply putting some bread on the table.   Baguette is a long stick of bread that is baked fresh several times a day and designed to be eaten within a few hours.  A day-old baguette could be toasted, but nothing beats the perfume, texture and taste of the baguette that is still warm when you leave your bakers clutching the precious stick, wrapped simply in a small square of paper.

The right baguette for you is a very personal and subjective choice.   People don’t necessarily go to their closest bakers, but rather to the one with the baguette they prefer.   Personally I like the inside of my baguette to be quite dense, full of flavour and not dry.   When buying the bread I’ll always say “une baguette, pas trop cuite”, or not overcooked, but there are plenty of clients who specify the opposite “bien cuit, s’il vous plaît”.

In our tiny local market town there are at least five bakers, each with their own clientele.  On Sunday mornings there are queues outside the better bakers, not because of any shortage in flour, but simply because Sunday is the day for long family lunches, and fresh bread and maybe a few patisseries are a vital part of the meal, and definitely worth the wait.

A good baker knows their clients, and remembers what they buy each day.  And if a client steps outside their normal order of “deux baguettes” or “un pain de campagne”, and requests something quite out of character like “un pain de mie” or, heaven forbid “une brioche” then there is a momentary pause, a raised eyebrow and an ever so subtle invitation to explain this sudden change in behaviour.   “I have family staying”, or maybe “I’m buying for my neighbour too”, replied to with “aah, oui, je comprends”, yes I understand.   And business gets back to normal.

So the next time that you stay with friends in France, or if you stay in a small B&B rather than a large hotel, then always pay attention to the bread on the table in the morning, and maybe even ask about the local bakers.  It’s all part of the myriad of small details that contribute to essential French living,

Hope you are having a lovely weekend, and if you want to tell me what is on your sunday breakfast table, then I am happy to listen !




Gina Hacker January 28, 2018 - 1:01 pm

Those pictures have made me very hungry. However, I don’t think any baguette compares to those we had in Villac in the Dordogne. We were staying in a lovely gite and the owners recommended the baker in the village. The bread was more rustic and heavier than a normal baguette but the taste from the wood fire it was baked in was exquisite.

david terry January 28, 2018 - 1:13 pm

Hmmm……what’s on my Sunday breakfast table? I haven’t actually eaten breakfast since sometime before the thatcher Regime, but my Sunday breakfast table is, this Sunday morning, laden with four boxes (12 jars apiece) of very pretty (if a bit runny) Tangerine/Hibiscus marmalade…….my solution to dealing with the two crates of tangerines that were used for decoration during the “Historic Homes Candlelight Holiday Tour” (I know…..a long name for an event thatlasts only about eight hours). I’ve done plenty of canning in my days, but this is the first time I’ve made marmalade. It’s a long and fairly tedious process, to be honest. Still, I’m pleased with myself and my thriftiness. I should add that, having experimented, I’ve discovered that the deer (who devour practically anything) won’t touch tangerines. SO?….I made marmalade.

Best as ever,
David Terry
The Webb House
Hillsborough, NC

tracy brown January 28, 2018 - 8:03 pm

Love homemade marmalade!

Steven January 29, 2018 - 5:54 pm

The B&B is currently open year-round? The house sounds intriguing (I checked out a web page). I have promised my wife a trip to Kinston to pay homage to Vivian Howard – so what’s another two hours………

Alice Genzlinger January 28, 2018 - 1:21 pm

A good baguette is hard to come by where I live. And to make matters worst I have had to become gluten free due to my health. Now I know bread is a staple in our lives and doing without good bread is a terrible thing. Gluten free bread is even more terrible. But being a stubborn girl, I have found a way to enjoy breakfast with bread. It’s not a baguette but a nice flax seed muffin with a smidgen of ghee. All is well with a big cup of joe.

Lynette January 28, 2018 - 3:50 pm

I had to respond. I have to each gluten free and have been in search of a bread. Try SRSLY Bread. It is made near San Francisco, CA and you can have it shipped to you. I order the classic dough sour bread and is the best I have found. I also was told that if a regular sour dough bread is allowed to rise 12 hours the gluten is removed. I am afraid to try but I do love fresh bread! Hope this helps.

Alice January 28, 2018 - 8:14 pm

Thank you so much Lynette. I am also dairy free, oat free and soy free. I just looked up the ingredients of all of their breads and am excited to learn I can have them as no items in those that would make me sick. Will try them.

Deborah January 28, 2018 - 4:43 pm

I also am gluten sensitive, so I have been making almond bread for years. It doesn’t rise much, no yeast, but it’s good & doesn’t have all the starches added. We do cheat once in a while when we are out. Only sensitive, not allergic. Bread made in grocery stores have to many bad things in them & no baker in our small town in Texas.

Our French Oasis January 28, 2018 - 1:26 pm

Until we moved to France permanently, several years ago, I never fully appreciated the baguette. Now, like you we prefer ours less well cooked and our baker, also now a good friend, knows this. Only this morning, Roddy was an hour later than normal collecting our bread, and he was met with a slightly concerned look. There were only two well cooked baguettes on the shelf, the next batch was half an hour away. “Please come back in 30 minutes Roddy” was immediately suggested by Franck, heaven forbid he should have to buy well cooked and super crusty when he knew it wasn’t our baguette of choice! These little things, they really do make all the difference.

Denise January 28, 2018 - 8:31 pm

Awww, I love that! What fantastic customer service your baker gives!

Claire January 28, 2018 - 1:28 pm

I would love to be able to say that my breakfast table has on it a delicious smelling baquette, fresh creamy butter, and a cup of tea but the truth is at this moment there is a birthday gift for my sister, a box for some St Patrick’s Day decorations from the Dollar Tree store to be sent to our 5 year old granddaughter (she adores getting these surprise boxes in the mail), and my purse. My breakfast will be the usual container of yogurt and, no matter the time of year, a big glass of ice tea. Which is sad because we live beside a beautiful river with gorgeous views. Weather permitting I do have my yogurt outside on the deck watching boats going up and down the river. Love your blog and dreaming of what might have been but being so very thankful for what is!

Vicky from Athens January 28, 2018 - 2:00 pm

Sharon, I’m reading this before breakfast and my mouth is watering. There is a little French bakery not far from me and I think I’ll go and buy one of their delicious baguettes for our breakfast. I’ll bet that is your delicious homemade orange marmalade on the plate. I’d love to know what you do with any left over bread since it doesn’t stay soft for very long. I usually make croutons with any we don’t eat right away.
Thanks for a mouth watering post this morning. I’m off to buy a baguette!

Carol Betz January 28, 2018 - 2:03 pm

I’m like you Sharon. I love baguettes too. But a very special kind. I like the chewy inside, but crusty outside. I live in the State of CO, USA & have trouble finding that kind of bread. Our Whole Foods has a large selection of breads, so can sometimes find it there. Otherwise our local grocery sometimes has it. We have traveled to Paris & England & love their bread. I read your blog all the time & love it. thanks

Adrienne Saffioti January 28, 2018 - 2:12 pm

Hi Sharon.
I fell in love with the baguette on my first visit to Paris this past September. I now visit the European style bakery at least twice a week for them.(the bakery is 20 miles away).
I also would prefer them less well-baked but at this distance I take what’s available!

Taste of France January 28, 2018 - 2:13 pm

There are different kinds of baguettes, too, often at the same bakery. We always spring for the slightly more expensive “baguette tradition,” which is chewier and denser, similar to sourdough.
We also prefer the flute size, a tad fatter than a baguette.
Any leftovers get dried out and turned into breadcrumbs.

cheryl January 28, 2018 - 2:18 pm

My husband and I will be taking our very firsts trip to Paris and would love to have any of your recommendations on where to eat, see, etc.!

Delaine January 28, 2018 - 2:21 pm

Hi Sharon! This post brings back special memories of eating a baguette in Paris on a bench right there and then! I had been anticipating it so that I couldn’t wait! I love bread and it’s hard to find baguettes like the French bake in the Deep South. Guess this calls for another trip across the pond!

Victoria Savu January 28, 2018 - 2:25 pm

It is hard to find a good baguette because I don’t live close to a bakery. I tried making them. Good taste but not a baguette. My Sunday morning breakfast is rushed usually so tea, toast with my homemade jams is the norm.

Martha January 28, 2018 - 2:48 pm

Yes, Sunday morning breakfasts are rushed for us, too, because we head out for church around 9:00. Saturday would be my baguette day.

Melanie Arnst January 28, 2018 - 2:28 pm

Interesting things to know:) It is near impossible to find a good baguette outside of France. I do envy you, but hopefully one day, I too will be able to move there permanently. For now I will keep enjoying your blog.

Dottie Monta January 28, 2018 - 2:34 pm

There Is no better breakfast! We have one, and only one, bakery near us with baguettes of worth. I must ask if anyone—besides yours truly—toasts, ever so slightly, the slices before spreading the butter! There are, usually, no leftovers. And apricot jam is the most delicious add-on. Happy Sunday to all!

Emm January 31, 2018 - 9:22 pm

I don’t toast, but I do put the slices in a pan to warm in the oven for a few minutes. And I am a sucker for apricot jam.
I’m visiting in France now and have so far sampled from four different bakeries within short drives. It’s not just the baguettes, but the heavenly croissants. Oh, my.

Debra January 28, 2018 - 3:13 pm

Bonjour, Sharon! As I read your post this morning, I’m drinking a cup of coffee and eating a bagel! It’s from a local company and very good, but my mouth is watering for a baguette. There’s a French bakery near my home, but alas, they’re closed on Sundays.

Kim January 28, 2018 - 3:49 pm

Oh, to have a fresh baguette from a bakery in France. Nothing close around here so I’m enjoying my slow cooked rolled oats with real maple syrup, pecan pieces and real cream.

Lynette January 28, 2018 - 3:57 pm

Our Sunday tradition is eggs baked with sliced yellow and red peppers, plain yogurt with blueberries, a homemade small scone and coffee.

Babs Stilley January 28, 2018 - 4:01 pm

Love your blog! My first baguette experience was summer of 1971 when I studied at the Sorbonne through a summer program with Kansas University. We stayed at an old convent converted for students and woke each morning to French Bread, real butter, jam and the best cafe au lait! Even with all of our walking I probably put on 10 lbs that summer! The ice cream cone stands were also a favorite stop!
Paris is such a wonderful and vivid memory I will forever cherish!

Dana January 28, 2018 - 4:09 pm

Hola sharon
En principio saludarte.decirte que me encanta
Tu página .
Con el respecto al baguette.decirte que cada
Vez que visitó Francia.Me quedo Facina con
Él pancito.Es decir ,que tiene algo muy especial
No si si es la masa.En particular que lo hace
Tan agradable.viajo mucho x todo el mundo
Pero Francia tiene ese encanto de atrapar
Al turista con tantas cosas bellas.Que yo x lo
Menos .Siempre quiero conocer un poco más
De cada lugar de Francia.
Por donde quiera que uno vaya es agradable
Sentarse con un trozito de pan baguette
Y una copa de vino tinto.
Oh ! la ! La ! Moun Cheri France

Carolyn January 28, 2018 - 4:56 pm

As I live on the west coast of Canada, I see your emails early in the morning here. What a delightful start to the day.
We have good small bakeries where I live, and enjoy baguettes often.
Bonjour Sharon!

Kathy Bottrell January 28, 2018 - 5:09 pm

This morning my breakfast table had homemade German stolen leftover from Christmas. Has been in the freezer. I slice it, butter it generously with artisan butter, and ‘grill” it in a le creuset skillet. Served with a banana and hot tea.

joie January 28, 2018 - 6:02 pm

Time for a quick trip to our true French bakery here. Two partners, one from Paris(the bread maker), the other from Lyon(the sweets). They moved here 6 years ago and are busy all the time. And now the wife of one has opened up a quaint breakfast/lunch place. Maybe a croissant this morning with Brie du Meaux and cappuccino.

Colleen Taylor January 28, 2018 - 6:11 pm

Oh my Sharon, now I must go out today & find a baguette. I have this wonderful apricot marmalade that I bought before the holidays that I forgot all about. An excuse to cheat today. I grew up on homemade bread & fresh churned butter that my Grandmother made every Saturday. I took it for granted & actually longed for a slice or two of that despicable Wonder bread. What was I thinking?
I Looovvvee Bread (sounding like Oprah)

Thank you for the inspiration to cheat just a little today!

jae January 28, 2018 - 6:35 pm

Nothing beats freshly baked bread, and oh, those fresh baguettes, with steaming cafe au lait enjoyed while walking along the river… I am nibbling on a bakery roll with good butter and a smear of Bonne Maman apricot jam…

Have to ask about the “heaven forbid, a brioche” remark. Is brioche an unusual request> Or did you just use that as an example of the customer’s out of the ordinary request. Just curious, thanks.

Valorie January 28, 2018 - 6:57 pm

I absolutely love fresh baguettes! To have a baker close by that I could walk to would be heaven! To even have one I could drive to would be great. They are sparse in the states, unfortunately. Maybe if you live in a big city. This is one thing that makes Europe so special to me. Enjoy for me! Thanks for the lovely photos, too!

stitchinsweetsue January 28, 2018 - 7:32 pm

happy sunday to you sharon ~ yes, the best is dense/not dry. you are so very wise:)

tracy brown January 28, 2018 - 8:10 pm

oooooo- I’d love a fresh baguette with butter, jam and a cafe au lait right now. But, alas, no French bakeries here. So I had to console myself with vanilla yogurt over homemade granola with warm homemade raspberry jam drizzled over all. Yum. Close race, I’m thinking.

Sharon martin January 28, 2018 - 10:15 pm

Looks amazing..have just started no carb diet !! I will wait till i get to Avignon in MAY…Cant wait. Enjoy !!

Judy January 28, 2018 - 11:08 pm

I learned from my doctor that the breads in France have 5 times less gluten than here in the USA. That’s why the bread in France goes stale so quickly and ours lasts longer! It’s all about shelf life!

Emm January 31, 2018 - 9:26 pm

That’s fascinating. There’s been some discussion among gluten-sensitive people in the US in recent years (I can’t eat it in US) that the problem may not be the gluten per se but the chemicals used on the wheat crop. Did your doctor give you a source for that distinction, I like to read more about it.

Harrah Brown January 29, 2018 - 12:07 am

It was after breakfast that I read your post, but your baguette looked so inviting I had to have one. So I made a delicious homemade minestrone soup and served it with a warm, fresh baguette.
Thanks Sharon for all your inspirations!

Helen, Perth, Western Australia January 29, 2018 - 2:19 am

We have just taken advantage of the cheap flights from Australia and booked two weeks in a B & B in Lyon. My, are we looking forward to those baguettes for breakfast. Thank you for teasing us Sharon.

Stacy January 29, 2018 - 3:26 am

My mother was European and my memory of the Sundays of my childhood include church services and a long leisurely roast served midday always accompanied by fresh baked bread bought at the bakery after church services. Fresh bread on Sunday was part of our culture as much as religion or a big family meal on Sunday, it was simply how things were done and had a fixed and definite place in our routine. Nowadays, life for myself and my family are more relaxed on weekends but fresh baked bread finds its way to our table a couple of times a week sometimes as rolls, sometimes a baguette. A perfect acccompaniment to beef bourgenon or french onion soup. The ultimate comfort food always fresh,warm and inextricably linked to wonderful memories rooted in tradition.

Sheila in SF January 29, 2018 - 4:41 am

Olive on Dan Francisco and have good French bread here but your baguettes are so delicious. Your photos made me hungry for a slice with tea and its 8 at nite here.
Love your blog and hope to visit France again next year !

Lucia Donahower January 29, 2018 - 8:53 am

I love baguettes! I reside in the San Francisco Bay Area and I must admit I indulge every once in a while.
Thank you for your inspiration!

Kiki January 29, 2018 - 1:51 pm

Lovely post – made me smile. LIving in France I confirm that it is exactly as you wrote! We had this typical ‘encounter’ yesterday night. On our way home from a very good ‘Sunday meal’ we bought a Tradition from the bakery at 2’ from our house. We didn’t plan to eat the baguette, really, as we were more than well fed. Only, at 10pm (ideal!!!) we realised that we couldn’t possibly keep that still fresh, deliciously smelling piece of heaven until Monday morning, so we ate the whole baguette (2 ppl) with a mightily bad conscience and a very happily filled (again) stomach! 🙂

Dawn Johnson January 29, 2018 - 8:57 pm

Such great pictures. I could just taste it and feel the crunch of the crust in my mouth. That is a beautiful baguette indeed. There are so many things to love about France but the baguette is truly my favorite. Nothing I have found Stateside can compare,even if they are good. I’ve tried making it too but cannot come close.

Dorka February 2, 2018 - 9:56 am

Our grandma generation used to bake bread at home for the great family and enough for several days. Our mother’s generation wnet to the baker’s for hand made bread. We still knew the bakers hand made and those industrially baked breads and my daughter’s generation does only the overbaked and frozen types. How world is changing. Sometimes I do bake croissants and horns for my guests staying with us from the big towns. They always enjoy the taste of rural household. Love from the tranquil and safe Great Plain in Hungary Central Europe Dorka

Pamela February 5, 2018 - 5:15 am

Not so easy to find good baguettes in Paris these days. Most of the old school boulangeries have closed – in many parts of Paris they’ve preserved the original façade tiles and hand painted windows with the name of the boulangerie. But then when you look closely they’re likely to be clothing shops. Have heard from French friends that the young bakers don’t like having to get up so early in the morning and or to bake multiple loaves during the day so it’s always fresh within an hour or so of coming out of the oven. Also they don’t always have the old steam injected ovens which make the bread really light and crunchy outside and soft inside. When we were young we drove all over France and could stop in any random little village and be sure of finding a truly fabulous baguette – or just walk a minute or two in Paris and there’d be a boulangerie. But not so much now. You’re very fortunate to live near a village with real boulangeries where they still make it themselves. Best wishes, Pamela


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