The Fresh Loaf

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Bakeries in france

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brettnortier's picture
brettnortier

Bakeries in france

Hi my name is Brett im a baker and have been baking for 2 years now and have been helping around at my aunts bakery while i was still at school. later this year my wife and I are planning to go to France, i would love to work in bakeries that are producing only the best quality breads with very high hydration and preferably sour dough. does anyone have any advice for me?

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flormont's picture
flormont

Hello Brett,

I live in france but I don't have any strong "trail" to give you for your career plan :-/ One certain fact : here the market started a mutation several years ago, and high-quality bakeries are more and more rare, replaced by what we call "points chauds", that is shops and chain stores selling frozen bread which are baked on site ... the only required tools are a cutter (to open cardboard boxes) and an oven. No more skilled labour required !
Another fact is that most "true" bakers work via franchise : flourmill industries help artisan class to do well, in return the artisan bakers are engaged to use their flour and to apply their baking process.
In conclusion, at present french "true" and "fully independant" bakeries became rare :-(

If you want to do authentic bakery then you should get in touch with a "Meilleur Ouvrier de France" baker, and or the "Institut National de Boulangerie-Patisserie". M.O.F.s and the INBP are supposed to promote the excellence, however some other bakers are doing awesome job every day. Famous bakers like Eric Kayser are also good references.

Good luck, I hope you will succeed even if I'm afraid that france will soon go out from the group of countries which continue the tradition in bakery.

Stuart Borken's picture
Stuart Borken

I hate to be such a pragmatist, but, you are a dreamer.  I hope you have a big nest egg.  You would best be served by picking out a town you wish to live in, and after living there a while you will find out where there are bakeries or restaurants you could work in.  You will probably be a waiter for a few years while you scout out the locations you might work in, in that town or surrounding areas.  Don't loose your skills in the mean time.  Keep your passion alive.  I have visited France only once, for 6 days, 2 years ago.  I fell in love with the bakeries, the restaurants, the candy shops, the outdoor markets, the people.  I walked for hours until I found Poilane....my ideal for a French bread bakery.  If you don't know about it, look it up.  It's in Paris.  It's been written up extensively.  The New Yorker in Dec. 3, 1012 had an article.  David Lebovitz has mentioned it in his blog.  Ina Garten has done a TV episode with a visit there when she did a Paris, France episode.  They bake their own breads and don't bake par-baked bread.

Baking bread in France especially Paris, is a dream.  I don't know how realistic it is.  Smaller towns might be more of a realistic location.  

I'm going to feed my starter now.  When I bake a bread with it, I will cut the bread with the bread knife I bought at Poilane, which the blade is etched with the name, "Poilane".  

Best of luck to you...you are living a dream many of us only dream of.....I pray it works out as you wish.

Darwin's picture
Darwin

Learn French before you go.

Noah Erhun's picture
Noah Erhun

Without an EU passport, it will be near impossible to work as a baker. The profession isn't considered highly skilled enough to allow for sponsorship. That said, bread tourism is unbelievably fun. ;) 

If you're planning a Paris tour, there are 7 or 8 well worth visiting...I'll track down my tour list from early March.  13 bakeries in 4 days ;) 

most comprensive tour I've seen Worth checking out http://breadfairyblog.com 

 

If France isn't legally possible, find city with a few excellent bakeries where you can live, and start contacting bakers... 

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Hi Brett

i would say you are already a mile in front with an Aunt that has a bakery, and all the equipment, a place where you can explore your desires to make high hydration doughs and sour doughs, i can only imagine a relative in the bakery business being pleased to allow  and encourage  a family member with enthusiasm the chance to expand the bread range in the business or for you to chase up some sour dough clientele of your own.

Other than that i have  found that i have been afforded chance invites into bakeries on my travels around the world where the only common language has been bread. most recently i was able to visit the bakery aboard Cunard's Queen Elizabeth during a cruise around the Mediterranean. Unfortunately i did not get to roll the sleeves up for fear of divorce proceedings  being initiated, but i would have loved to have put through a batch of my dinner  rolls in comparison

Likewise i am always pleased to be able to extend the offer to fellow bakers or people with an interest to come join me for a baking session.

 i have an invitation that i have yet to take up to bake with a former workmate that now owns a very successful continental bakery just 5 minutes from home, i just have to arrange to go when he is actually going to be doing a shift as he has several staff that do the job.

You may find some TFL bakers close by that would  enjoy the chance to share the experience and knowledge, i have enjoyed meeting fellow members and enjoyed sharing some dough time together.

Anyone in Western Australia or planning a visit is welcome to contact me and we will see what we can arrange, next baking opportunity coming up is Australia's biggest morning tea May the 27th which is a fund raiser for the Cancer Council and we will be making cinnamon scrolls  for the gold coin donation event which last year raised $600.

I even have 2 volunteers to get out of bed for the 3.00AM start.  We are looking at 4 batches of dogh using 5kg of Flour.

Anyway good luck Brett and by the way are the breads in the picture yours?

kind regards