The stereotype of a French person walking around half the day with a baguette tucked under his or her arm is completely true. There are six boulangeries fewer than 250 meters from my apartment, which means I, like the average French person, had the luxury of choosing one. The French pride themselves on their cooking and their palates, so I consider the process a rite of passage.
After about three weeks of visiting whichever bakery was on my way back to my apartment, I decided Maison Barlier was the one for me. Having a bakery I preferred made Epinal feel truly like home for the first time–like a little piece of the city belonged to me and I belonged as well.
Most boulangeries bake twice a day, and there is nothing better than getting off the bus at 6:15 to pick up a warm, crackling bread sword for dinner. I have been buying more bread than is good for me so the boulangerie staff knows my face, and expects me after work or on Sunday.
How do you choose a bakery? For me it was the freshness of the bread, the variety of whole grain options, the pastry selection, the friendliness of the staff, and that I don’t have to walk through downtown to get there. This way, I can go in quasi-pajamas. My bakery is also open–get this–Saturday AND Sunday. This is very, very rare. Today I hauled myself out of bed at 9, wandered over and said a cheery bonjour to the counter girl who has finally started to recognize me.