For the 50+ Traveler

When you think of France, it’s likely that images of the Eiffel Tower and baguettes immediately spring to mind. Now an association of French bakers wants to go a step further and is working to ensure baguettes are officially designated as “cultural treasures.”

The Eiffel Tower has been on the list of historic monuments for decades. It also is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage Site.

UNESCO also has an Intangible Cultural Heritage designation, and the National Confederation of French Bakery and Pastry has -- again -- submitted its application for French baguettes to be included on that list, a Reuters article reports. That designation would preserve the baking knowledge that has been handed down for generations -- and would also clearly differentiate the French baguette from imposters.

“A baguette is the culinary symbol of France -- it’s like the Eiffel Tower,” Dominique Anract, president of the French Bakery Confederation, told Atabula. “I want to fight for world heritage status to protect the quality of the traditional baguette.

A Way Of Life

Baguettes are a staple of life in France. In fact, roughly six million are sold every day, according to the Center of Research and Study of Bakery and Its Companions.

As you may know, the French are serious about baguettes, too. Indeed, the French government even passed a decree in 1993 stipulating that a “traditional” baguette can only be made using flour, yeast, salt, and water. And yet, as every baker knows, there’s more to baking than reading a list of ingredients.

“There’s not one single secret to making a good traditional baguette,” Mickael Reydellet, owner of eight bakeries in France, said in the Reuters article. “It requires time, a ‘savoir-faire,’ the right way of baking, and good flour without additives.”

Competition From Markets

Okay, so if France has a baguette decree specifying what baguettes are made from, what seems to be the problem? The answer is that French people are increasingly visiting supermarkets and convenience stores rather than bakeries, which Anract says makes him “furious.”

“When I see the quality of bread in supermarkets, it is impossible not to be indignant,” Anract told the Center of Research and Study of Bakery and Its Companions. “The bread is frozen, it comes from who knows where, nothing is done according to the rules of the art [of breadmaking].”

Stiff Competition

The French baguette actually is in a three-way race to become one of France’s cultural treasures. The other two candidates are the zinc-plated rooftops seen throughout Paris and the Jura region’s Biou d’Arbois wine festival.

Roselyne Bachelot, France’s minister of culture, will make her decision about which item should be submitted to UNESCO later this month. After that, President Emmanuel Macron will present the bid to the UNESCO Committee for inclusion on the Intangible Cultural Heritage list, Connexion France explains.

The path to being named a cultural treasure is not always quick. For example, it took nine years

for the Neapolitan art of pizza twirling to receive the designation. Efforts to put the French baguette on the Intangible Cultural Heritage list actually began in 2018. Anract, however, says he is committed to the cause.

“The road will be long ... but the stakes are high, for the artisan bakers, for the French, and for the image of our country,” Anract told Atabula. Fascinated? Or hungry? Consider 7 Best Bakeries In Paris According To A Former Baker, 3 Must-Visit Food Shop Streets In Paris, and 8 Fantastic Wine Tours To Experience In France.