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  • Writer's pictureParisian Niche

French Symbols - La Baguette

P'Niche is truly enjoying researching and sharing some of the other key French symbols, like the fleur de lys, Napoleonic bee, le tricolore, and the meaning behind Paris' unique Fluctuat Nec Mergitur city motto. We have even put on our thinking caps to mull over the Phrygian cap (which is the mascot of the upcoming 2024 Olympics to be hosted in Paris.)

After reading all of these symbols, I can almost hear you thinking, hmmm, how can a baguette be seen as a national symbol? Well, let's take a delicious P'Niche Peek to learn more about UNESCO's latest recognized national heritage treasure.

image: Christina Consolé

Wait, What's UNESCO? Glad you asked, you inquisitive P'Nicher, you!

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is a specifically designated agency of the United Nations, founded in 1945. Its goal is to promote peace and security by highlighting international cooperation in the fields of education, sciences, culture, communication, and information.

UNESCO is headquartered in Paris.


To secure UNESCO Heritage Status, a nominee must meet at least one of ten specific cultural and natural criteria.

These precise criteria are regularly revised by the Committee to reflect the constant evolution of the World Heritage concept itself.

UNESCO recognition offers a raised awareness among both citizens and governments for heritage preservation.


Did you know that in Paris (and just outside) alone there are already five UNESCO recognized items? They are:

- Banks of the River Seine

- Château de Versailles

- Le Corbusier

- Château de Fontainebleau

- Provins

That's to say nothing of the many other UNESCO officially recognized items in the rest of France. But let's get back to our newest inductee - the Baguette!

Effective immediately, the "artisanal know-how and culture of the baguette" has been granted recognition on the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Per UNESCO, this is defined as "traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed down to our descendants." Very simply stated, the baguette is a vital part of the French culture.

Rather than "American as Apple Pie", let's think in terms of, "as French as a Baguette!"

So, where does our crunch-tastic baguette find its roots? Welp, there are several varying (unproven) theories. Let's follow the bread crumb trail...

Longer, wider loaves of bread have of course been around since the times of Louis XIV and well before (let us not forget the grain and bread riots that led to the French Revolution. If there was no bread to bake and rise, the monarchy had to fall.)

Further down the bread line, many people feel that Napoléon Bonaparte dictated what we recognize as the shape today.

He stated that the bread had to be made into long, thinner loaves so that they would better fit into his soldiers pockets, satchels or arms.

Some people credit Austria with our beloved daily bread... August Zang was the Austrian solider turned baker / entrepreneur who founded the Viennese daily Die Presse.

Zang had a major influence on French baking methods (with steam oven baking now available), possibly introducing Paris the croissant, pain viennois, and the baguette.


Another theory notes that during the construction of the Parisian métro, knife fights would break out amongst the many workers, so it was requested of bakers that they create a bread that could be ripped and torn to be shared, rather than needing to be cut with a knife.

This gives a whole new significance to the sentiment of "breaking bread!"

Moving forward in baking history, one final theory to explore centers around the 1920 French law, where it was prohibited for bakers to work during the night - that's to say between the hours of 10pm and 4am.

The baguette became the go-to solution as it could go from flour to pan to oven to bread basket / sale within three hours of the bakery opening for 7am breakfast time.


Did you know that baguettes have a "legal recipe" of sorts? This got started during the French Revolution (you P'Nichers know I am obsessed).

During this time, the Post-Revolution government stated "Richness and poverty must both disappear from the French government of equality."


Further still, "There will no longer be a bread of wheat for the rich and a bread of bran for the poor. All bakers will be held, under the penalty of imprisonment, to make only one type of bread: The Bread of Equality."

Proper baguettes are now sold in standard sizing of 80 centimeters (30 inches) and 250 grams (eight ounces). I guarantee you that you will eat at least 5 inches off your baguette on the way home from the bakery!

Baguettes are big business in France. There is even a group - Observatories du Pain - a research organization, who tracks French consumption habits and/or trends.

As of 2016, it can be noted that on any given day, a French person's daily bread is consumed at a rate of at least 3.6 ounces.

In recent years, it has been documented that local boulangeries (bakeries) have had to shutter their doors due to the rise of baguettes being sold in larger chain stores and super markets. So, when you get to go buy your baguette in Paris or France, keep in mind patronizing our smaller businesses. Truth be told, they likely have the better products and certainly offer a more authentic Parisian/French baked good experience.

So important is bread, that annually on October 16th, World Bread Day is celebrated as a global holiday.

Further, each year in Paris, a Best Baguette of Paris competition is held. Naturally, the winning boulangerie would win a cash prize, but the larger take away is the contract to supply daily bread to the President of France at the Élysée Palace.

France's current president, Emmanuel Macron, must be especially pleased as he himself has called the baguette "250 grams of magic and perfection."

And of course, this notoriety will likely lead to lots of queues out the boulangerie door for the baguette (and all of the other goodies) to be found inside.


Feeling Hungry? Moi aussi! Paris' Best Baguette of 2022, can be found at:

Boulangerie Frédéric Comyn

88, rue de Cambronne, 75015

Métro: Vaugirard

Can't make it to the 15th arrondissement? Here are some of P'Niche's favorite (non-sponsored baguettes):

Le Moulin de la Vierge - Victoires

10, place des Petits Pères, 75002

Métro: Bourse

Note: Try the croissant au beurre!

Au Petit Versailles du Marais

1, rue Tiron, 75004

Métro: Saint Paul

Note: Try the taste aux framboises!


51, rue Montorgueil, 75002

Métro: Étienne Marcel

Note: The Baba au Rhum was created here back in 1725.


35, rue Rambuteau, 75004 Paris, France

Métro: Hôtel de Ville

Note: Try the house specialty - the Praluline - trust me...

Not headed to Paris but want to get your baguette on? Pas de problème!

You might like to try your hand at this traditional artisan recipe.

As always, make sure to follow your own specific dietary restrictions and personal taste preferences...


Just for a fun crumb - for P'Niche's proficient French language speakers and students... the word for wand is also... baguette!

So if you are reading Harry Potter en français, you are reading correctly, his wand is his baguette - took me a few pages to get that myself, but now gives me a proper chuckle...

Let's make a challenge P'Nichers... grab two separate baguettes and compare and contrast them. What makes one your preferred bread versus the other? Where do you grab your favorite baguette when in Paris? Sound off in the comments below et à bientôt!


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