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No, There's No Baguette Shortage in France

The big investigation of the summer.

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Paris is in crisis. In this hot month of August, all the (good) bakeries are closed, leaving crazed Parisians to wander in the deserted streets of the capital, deprived of gluten and their joie de vivre.

At least, that's what British sites The Local and The Telegraph reported in articles published on Aug. 7.


Titled "France fears baguette crisis as bakers allowed to take holidays," the Telegraph article explains that this crisis comes from the "choc de simplification" — a series of administrative measures launched by President François Hollande that permit bakers in particular to take vacation without restrictions between July and August.

In the article, a Parisian deplores the fact that he is forced to buy baguettes at the supermarket because of his baker's vacation.

To illustrate this ~shortage~, the Telegraph even took a photo of Parisians lining up in front of a bakery.

The only problem is this photo actually shows the line in front of the Sébastien Mauvieux bakery two days after it won the prize of Best Baguette in Paris in 2012. Not exactly a crisis.

As connoisseurs of good crust, we decided to fact-check our British colleagues.

Using the same highly scientific methods as the journalists of the Telegraph and the Local, we looked at how long it took us to get a good baguette in our respective neighborhoods on Tuesday, Aug. 11. Here are the results.

BuzzFeed France

Fifty seconds after setting off in Paris at the Porte des Lilas, I stumbled upon an open bakery on Rue de Belleville. I cheated by opting for a banette (1 euro) instead of a classic baguette, because there were only white, undercooked baguettes and I like crispy bread.


Less than a minute later, I came to an intersection with one closed bakery and one open.

I bought a traditional well-cooked baguette for 1.20 euros, cursing the baker with the undercooked baguettes.

BuzzFeed France

This is nothing but an imitation of a baguette at most. A pile of flour with delusions of grandeur. This "baguette" brings shame to its family. This "baguette" plays into the hands of the anti-gluten lobby. This "baguette" felt so disgraced that when it arrived at the office, it committed suicide.

Unsatisfied by this defrosted fake, I continued my research. After one minute and 20 seconds, I came to the second bakery, which was closed:

BuzzFeed France

No signs as to the closest open bakery. Futhermore, the reopening date is completely unreadable.


Three minutes or so later: several meters away from one another, one bakery closed, the other open.

The baguette, which cost 95 cents, is acceptable, hot, and crusty, though a bit dry. I decide I can do better, and continue the search.

Four minutes 45 seconds: another open bakery, a bit farther up on Rue de Rochechouart. I buy one last baguette while repelling an attack by a huge wasp.

The baguette is crusty on the outside, soft on the inside. Victory!


After leaving my place, I found an open bakery 300 meters away. But I wanted to bring back good bread to my newsroom, so I chose to walk a bit farther (about 200 extra meters) to buy two baguettes (1.10 euros together). Of the four bakeries on Rue des Pyrénées, two were open.

So, I decided to go someplace else and walked around for 20 minutes ... but found nothing.

I then had to go back to the fake bakery and bought a traditional baguette for 1.15 euros. The result: a mass-produced baguette as expected, but not terrible.

BuzzFeed France

I was sad and disappointed, but my eyes suddenly lit up when I saw a bakery in the distance, which even had a little queue!

I asked the bakers if they always have such a long line. "Yes, because the neighboring bakeries are closed in August," they said.

BuzzFeed France

I left Place d'Italie in the direction of Boulevard Vincent-Auriol and within a minute of walking I stumbled upon a bakery — open, too. There was no doubt, with its big illuminated sign and arrow, and display window full of bread, it was certainly a bakery.

I waited around for five minutes before I was served, but not because there were so many people there: The few customers ahead of me had cornered the shopkeeper in conversation.

BuzzFeed France

I bought a baguette for 1.15 euros that was acceptable, but nothing more.

I've never before embarked on such an exciting adventure.

BuzzFeed France

The majority of closed bakeries didn't have signs up about the other nearby bakeries that were open.

Out of 11 baguettes, only two were really an insult to the concept of a baguette. The majority were good. To celebrate, we had a picnic at midday.

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