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The importance of French Bread

One of the great joys of visiting France is a visit to the “boulangerie” to buy wonderful crusty French bread but did you know quite how important this humble food stuff is to the French nation ?

In 1788-9 a combination of market speculation and poor weather led to grain shortages which in turn led to bread shortages so the Storming of the Bastille was as much a food protest as a libertarian uprising. After the Revolution, the Assembly National decreed that only one type of bread should be made – pain d’egalite made from 3/4 wheat and 1/4 rye flour. When Napoleon came to power in 1799 his government issued decrees that established standards for bread, specifying ingredients and baking methods. Later governments added to these decrees setting standards for methods of kneading, shape and size of the loaf.

In 1920 laws were passed preventing bakers from working before 4am and so the baguette became popular and the norm as it could be prepared and baked in the time whereas the round loaf, which had been popular before, could not be cooked in the time. There were also legal definitions about the ingredients which could consist only of flour, water, yeast and salt.

In 1993 in order to counter the move to mass-produced breads, legislation was introduced decreeing that “pain maison” had to be entirely kneaded, worked and cooked on the premises and that “pain de tradition francaise” has to be made without any freezing during the fermentation process and must not contain any additives or chemical improvers. Now to be called a “boulangerie” bread has to be made on the premises.
This legislation has led to a revival of the ‘artisan baker’ and in Meribel we are lucky to have one of the best bakeries in France – Le Village des Pains in Meribel Village where bread making is an art and all produce is made daily on the premises.

So when you stay in our luxury ski chalets, your start to the day will be feasting on delicious, fresh bread and croissants to set you up for a day on the slopes. Just a little piece of French history and no rioting needed !