Last Updated on 12th May 2022 by Sophie Nadeau
One of the greatest perks about living in France is that there tends to be a great boulangerie on almost every street corner. So much so, that many French people make it a daily mission to star their day by picking up a baguette from the local bakery. Bread is such an institution in the country that there is even an annual bread festival in Paris!
In 2022, after a 2 year absence, the bread festival (known as fête du pain in French) is back. The event will take place between Saturday May 14 and Sunday May 22, 2022 in the square directly in front of Notre Dame Cathedral.
A Brief History of the Baguette
The word baguette actually comes from the Italian word ‘bacchetta‘ and just means ‘baton’ or ‘wand’. In fact, in French, the word ‘baguette‘ is used in a number of contexts. This includes (but is not limited to): chopsticks, magic wands, and drumsticks. The use of the word ‘baguette‘ to signify bread was not attested until the 1920s (although it could have been used for bread in spoken language well before this).
The shape of the baguette is actually determined by French law (!!!) and in France, you aren’t allowed to sell a bread product as a baguette unless it adheres to strict guidelines… For more information, be sure to check out our complete baguette guide.
The Bread Festival In Paris
Considering that France is not only the land of love, but that it may well boast some of the best bread in the world, it shouldn’t be at all surprising that the ‘fete du Pain’ (literally ‘bread festival’) is held annually in the Parvis de Notre Dame.
The bread festival has been held almost every year since it was founded in 1996 by Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who was then the minister of Trade and Crafts. The event is held during May every year as the 16th May is the Patron Saint Day of Saint-Honoré, who is the saint of flour sellers, millers, bakers and pastry makeers.
Held in a massive canvas pavilion, entry is free and as soon as you step into the large open space, you will be greeted with the delicious scent of freshly baked bread and warmth from the constantly whirring multiple ovens.
The temporary structure serves as a boulangerie of sorts, and bread (as well as other baked goods) are baked on site. Located in the 4th arrondissement of Paris (in the heart of Île de la Cité), it’s worth noting that not all bread are allowed to be called bakers.
With a national baguette competition, bread tasting, brioche and pretzel (called ‘bretzel’ in French) baking demonstrations and the opportunity to buy all manner of bread related products, it was the perfect place to spend a rainy afternoon or two.
The atmosphere is friendly and it’s incredible to see so many different products being produced and baked at the same time. All in all, it is not only an interesting afternoon, but also a mouthwatering experience…