March 29, 2011 at 4:19 PM
Photographer Amanda August, who is studying abroad in France this semester, gets to experience the taste of fresh French bread.
My language and culture class was privileged enough to take a behind-the-scenes tour of Boulangerie Patisserie Au Grand Richelieu in the first arrondisement of Paris. This bakery, owned by Claude Esnault, is the oldest functioning bakery
in Paris, baking bread since the 1800s. Our tour started with a brief description of the ingredients of bread and how it is made. Then Esnault showed us how to form a baguette, which a machine does. Then he pulled out some already formed baguettes that were ready to be baked. He let us each slice open a baguette with a neat little fork before they were placed in the oven at 220 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes. During the time that the bread was baking, Esnault showed the class how to make croissants. We each got to try rolling up the dough to form a croissant. Then he showed us how to make the pain au chocolat, a crowd favorite, which is basically a croissant full of chocolate! We each got to try a piece of the chocolate that goes inside as well, which was delicious. When the bread was done, Esnault got us two baguettes so that we all got a piece of steaming fresh hot baguette. It was the best bread I have had in Paris! It was a great class and a wonderful way to experience and learn more about an essential part of French culture! Bakery's are such a huge part of the French culture that they aren't even allowed to go on strike.