Baguettes Tradition

Inarguably, Paris has the best bread in the world. And for sure the best baguettes.

Parisians love their baguettes. Tasty and phallic, baguettes are a landmark of Parisian food culture. But lately, a wind of change has been blowing on Parisian bakeries. A sweeping one.

Hurting the good old baguette. At their local bakery, Parisians now massively opt for “La Baguette Tradition” instead of the good old baguette. La Baguette Tradition is a new phenomenon that has taken over Parisian bakeries over the past ten years. It is made exclusively out of wheat flour, no additives are used. It is shorter, better and more pricy than the regular baguette.

The real bread-loving Parisian escalates the provocation to the regular baguette by asking for “une tradi s’il vous plait”. That’s right. A nickname. No plain baguette ever reached this level of intimacy with a Parisian. Ever.

Besides this obvious familiarity with his new beloved bread, the Parisian will know at what time of the day les tradis come out of the oven. That’s when he’ll go buy his. For bread is of course much better warm. And Parisians like better.

While most Parisian families usually opted for one baguette, they now go two tradi. For one –especially if warm – is going to be eaten on the way back home. Thus, this most daily Parisian act – buying bread- has lately turned into a little daily luxury: that of turning your back to la baguette to indulge in the irresistible tradi.

Such is the Parisian: constantly reinventing Tradition.

Useful tip: Bread is not a meal in France. Bread, even if good, should accompany your meal.
Sound like a Parisian: « Les tradi sont prêtes ? Non ? Oh, je vais attendre 5 minutes.»

Credits: Top left baguette image courtesy of (roboppy/flickr)


22 replies
  1. Peter Newman-Legros
    Peter Newman-Legros says:

    How true this is! And may I add that Paris is THE benchmark for croissants – somehow almost crusty, whilst still soft and slightly sweet whilst a tad salty they are almost as good as croissants in Paris…

  2. Accidental Parisian
    Accidental Parisian says:

    Ah, the death of the baguette…. Actually, I see the baguette as a little luxury in itself because baguettes go stale very quickly, whereas les traditions keep for a full 24 hours (!). If I’m buying a baguette in the morning, I’m either feeding a lot of people or I have time to go to the boulangerie a second time in the day to get bread for the following day’s breakfast.

  3. Stéphan
    Stéphan says:

    So bobo…
    Pretending you buy a “tradi” while most baguetes in Paris are fresh, tasty and properly baked.
    Maybe this is because the price is higher ?

    Anyway, the baker who thought about it is a genius… and Parisians are now happy buying a 2 euros baguette…

    BTW : excellent bakery in Charenton le pont, close to the metro exit, the church and the school. Baguette (normal one, please) is excellent, lasts for more than one day, croissants are almost creamy, and galette is beautiful.

    Pfffff : living in Paris and pretending you buy tradition…

    Stéphan

  4. parisbreakfast
    parisbreakfast says:

    MON DIEU!
    Merci for the “tradi”!
    That’s why I can always find my baguette “cereal” at the no-name boulangerie on rue Vavin- there is only one and there’s always a line. But ever decent bolangerie has a line. It’s just this one is very homy..until it was until the recent renovations.
    Merci dieu they did not renovate the bread!

  5. Frenchy
    Frenchy says:

    Bonjour mon ami!
    I am new to your blog and i love it!
    I have a French party on the 1st of the month where you can advertise your site by linking one of your posts. You get free advertising and lots views. I would love if you participate.
    Come see me.
    Gros bisous
    Frenchy

  6. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    Peter… Yes, bakeries in Paris tend to be un cran au-dessus!
    Acidental Parisian… Two mysteries here: one – how do you feed a lot of people with one baguette? Two – How do you manage to hold on to your tradi for 24hrs?
    Stéphan… I lmost feel bad for liking tradis now!
    VLR… Yes – sorry – a reader mentioned that the post had gone missing so I had to post it again!
    ParisBreakfast… I don’t think a man has ever bought a baguette céréales. Total woman’s thing to do!! I don’t actually think the thought ever crossed my mind!!
    Frenchy… Well, welcome!! French party? As in limited drinking and inexistant sexual tension?

  7. Peter Newman-Legros
    Peter Newman-Legros says:

    Your last comment made me laugh out loud, Olivier! Everyone sitting around making polite conversation without even the defence of a glass full of alcohol. Lighting on full, music only a maybe AND you see; to have to wear your outside shoes or at least my belle mère makes me even in my own house.

  8. Lil
    Lil says:

    Ah, nothing beats buying fresh bread from the bakery, walk out and continue to browse for cheese at the market next to it (I used to do this at Port Royal) then eat them along the way back to my friend’s (hehehe, that’s my “home” in Paris).

  9. andrew
    andrew says:

    The Parisians might be bending their baguettes to the forces of innovation/canny marketing, but at least they’re still buying fresh bread. I dread to think how many small bakeries have closed in the UK in the last decade. Hardly anyone here buys fresh bread anymore… or if they do it’s from a supermarket.

  10. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    I agree with Andrew, no matter the type of baguette, boulangerie tradition is what keeps the quality so high. For me, though, du pain français is a meal, Fruit cheese, wine and bread… that’s all you really need here! oh, and don’t forget the crisp warm crunch when you break the crust and the perfect French butter… (i’ve never understood why les français don’t eat butter with their bread – I know, Olivier that you covered this a while back. Well, more for me!) and the Atkins-be-damned smell of boulangers hard at work in the early am before Paris’ well, “other” smells invade. Yum.
    Oh and, off topic, since it was brought up, why is it that for such an emotionally exhuberant culture, the “typical” french party has such a repressed air? Enlighten us ignorant foreigners please.

  11. Barbra
    Barbra says:

    Dear Olivier, the “tradi” isn’t “hurting the good old baguette,” it IS the good old baguette. There are lots of crappy industrial baguettes out there and when you buy a “tradition” at least you know what’s in it and how it’s made. That doesn’t guarantee it will be good, but it improves the odds.

    (By the way I know at least one man who happens to love pain aux céreales — and you know him too!)

  12. admin
    admin says:

    Peter… I do my best to instill a sense of decadence in this city. Not easy!
    Lil… Eating cheese on the way home is unhord of! Bread yes, cheese is a whole different story!!
    Andrew… Icing thought. Resistance!
    Elizabeth… Well, emotions are intimate – parties somewhere between too much and not enough!
    Barbra… Well, I’m no bread historian, but growing up in Paris, baguettes tradition did not exist. Plus I’m always suspicious of anything called “tradition”. But no matter if it’s traditional or not – it sure tastes good. All in all, bread has never been as good as it is today. And there is sure is a type of bread fro everyone in those bakeries. Soon, you’ll need a PhD to buy bread!
    Poulette… Well, it’s a bit like liking green tea, let’s say!!

  13. Stéphan
    Stéphan says:

    Olivier,
    no offense here ;)
    Tradis taste good…

    but I am a bit worried. I read recently you changed you mind about Facebook, iPhones, now tradis… sounds like rampant parisianism…

    please tell me it ain’t so :)

    Stéphan

  14. 4-string Chris
    4-string Chris says:

    Hi Olivier,
    Just discovered your blog, read a lot of it in a row, wow…
    cannot list everything but please keep this personal vision, “finesse”, accuracy, humour, and distance…
    a few comments – on various topics :
    1) I do know Parisian people who wear vareuses, sailman cap, etc., rent a house in Brittany for ages and never put a foot on a boat, that was great masterpiece, bravo – maybe we should suggest them to create an union… ah, sorry it already exists : it is called the 14th district.
    2) I’d go even beyond the last sentence concerning marriages : “écoute ça me saoûlait un peu d’y aller ben finalement c’était PIRE que ce que je pensais”. I look always forward the marriage announcements with fear every year ; NONE THIS SUMMER, YES !!!
    3) as a classical musician, my statement is even worse than yours : Parisian (those reputaded having a solid culture) have no clue what this music is and they even don’t pretend knowing anything (ok, maybe more the old ones do) ; I think it explains a lot the lack of interest/knowledge of politicians on music
    + well done on the ‘relaxing’ thing, typical from the worst part of them
    4)Regular tomatoes taste awful since the producers only aim at making very solid fruits, able to support tons of themselves during transportation ; my grandfather had to cope with those guys 20 years ago and one day they answered him : “Le goût ? Pourquoi faire ?”. Sincerely. So be gentle with cherry tomatoes!
    5)For the records, I think France almost invented dubbing, we were the only ones to have it until very recently. Everyone in the world had VOST before, not only Parisian. Sorry !

    Ok I have to go
    thanks again et continue à nous faire rire

  15. Moktarama
    Moktarama says:

    At least a post I don’t agree with ;-)

    The Tradi thing is as french as parisian, for a very simple reason : in the 90′s, bread had become more and more industrial (particularly due to supermarkets and a non negligeable part of bakeries) , and following lobbying from some professionnal introduced a legal and additive free recepy named “pain de tradition française” . The law is here : http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexteArticle.do;jsessionid=DFBE62EF7283600CDD7AEC565768A250.tpdjo06v_1?idArticle=LEGIARTI000006933917&cidTexte=LEGITEXT000006082658&dateTexte=20100528

    Since that law, the Tradi has enjoyed a great success in our country (despite its higher price than of the white-breaded baguette) and absolutely not only in Paris – but that’s an obvious parisian trait, isn’t it ? ;-)

  16. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    Poulette… Oh boy!! What’s next? Paolo Coehlo?!
    Stéphan… I try to fight the plagues of modernity. But I don’t think Tradis are one. It’s not like la baguette is disappearing, it’s just being pimped.
    4-string Chris… Thank you very much! And welcome I guess. Your remarks: 1- Is there an ocean in the 14th? 2 – Just came back from one, which was, I must admit, outstanding!! 3 – You’re the second pro classical musician commenting. Crazy!! How many of you is it? 4 – La résistance!! 5 – I didn’t know that – Thanks. Merci en tout cas.
    Moktarama… ;-) Oh, I know it’s not only a Parisian thing. But I’m happuy to claim that bread on average tastes much better n Paris than in the rest of the country (boom).

  17. Moktarama
    Moktarama says:

    I was writing that as a parisian myself ;-)

    And if agree that “on average” the parisian baguette is mildly better, it seems to me that the baguette stays closely related to the baker, and there is no less quality variation in Paris than elsewhere in France, thus making it very difficult to speak “on average” .

    Simple exemple in the 14th : quality is almost painfully awful in Denfert’s different bakeries (for a tradi price ranging between 1€10 and 1€30) , but in the Losserand Pernety area you’ll find two of the bests bakeries in Paris almost face to face and numerous acceptable ones (with a uniform price of 1€) .

    PS in french : je coupe les cheveux en quatre, certes… disons que je pinaille parce que vous tombez d’habitude tellement juste qu’on en devient exigeant ;-)

  18. Jacques1
    Jacques1 says:

    Pardon me my ignorance, but I still can’t ascertain what the difference is between a ‘tradi’ and a regular baguette.

    As the the rest, I love this blog, and I really hope that the saying is true, that when good Americans die they go to Paris. My favorite place on earth, can’t believe people get to live there.

    Jim

  19. Jacques1
    Jacques1 says:

    P.S. I think your html has a bug. Your formatting string “%A %B %e%q, %Y at %I:%M %p” is being displayed, instead of whatever it is supposed to format. –J

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