Why It Will Be Hard to Find a Baguette in Paris This Month
If you happen to be visiting Paris this month, pack a sleeve of Ritz crackers. Because the pickings of <i>le pain</i> may be painfully slim indeed.
Trotting down the Champs-Élysées with half a dozen baguettes tucked under your arm probably won't make you a bona fide Frenchman—but it might just be a surefire way for you to make lifelong friends with some very French boulangers. (You could also save a few bucks on deodorant, since you would inherently smell totally fucking awesome.)
Alas, if you are actually hoping to act out this idyllic romp to win over the hearts and minds of France's finest, you'll probably have to wait until autumn.
Why is that?
Because, for the first time since the French Revolution, it isn't mandatory for France's bakers to report to local authorities when they plan to close shop for summer vacation.
You see, during the French revolution—back when Marie Antoinette was told the people had no bread and she suggested un petit gateau—the authorities didn't just chop off her rouge-laden head; they also passed a bread law. It required bakers to report their summer vacations to the local authorities so that closings of les boulangeries would be staggered, and was meant to ensure that locals could always get a nice boule or baguette. Rather civilized, n'est-ce pas?
This regulation has meant, for the last few centuries, that half the bakeries in Paris would close in July and half in August. In fact, the closed boulangeries had to post a notice, telling desperate customers where they would be able to find an emergency croissant in a pinch.
However, all good things must come to an end. The boulangerie summer rules have gone the way of Serge Gainsbourg and les sans-culottes. Au revoir, civilized rules of yore.
Thanks to a new "business-friendly" drive to simplify the government and cut red tape, the French are on their own this summer. Every baker in Paris is allowed to hit Nice or Biarritz whenever they please. Talk about a cornichon! The people of Paris may be removing the meat from les Big Macs and breakfasting on the buns this August.
Expats tell English-language news site The Local that things are going to hell in an elegantly laced hand basket over there.
"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," Lynn Segal 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."
Welcome to our world, people of France. No, you can't always have a delectable, freshly baked, steaming baguette at your whim. Some might even savagely view it as a luxury.
The French really like their August holidays, and according to The Local, "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."
So, if you happen to be visiting Paris this month, pack a sleeve of Ritz crackers. Because the pickings of le pain may be painfully slim indeed.