The Search for the Perfect French Baguette

Stroll through Paris first thing in the morning and you’ll see lines of people snaking out of their local bakeries for their morning bread. That’s because getting up early and buying a baguette is more than second nature; it’s a way of life in France. In fact, the French consume 320 baguettes every second — that’s an average of half a baguette per person per day, or 10 billion each year. It’s no surprise, then, that France takes its baguettes seriously. That’s why every April since 1994, a jury of experts gathers in Paris for Le Grand Prix de la Baguette — a competition to determine who makes the very best in the city. Some 200 bakers in Paris enter the competition each year, delivering two of their best baguettes to a panel of expert jurors first thing in the morning. The baguettes are graded on quality, look, smell, taste, and crunch. The winner wins €4000 ($4,732) and a contract to provide the French president with fresh baguettes every day for a year.