Lesson Five, Number 5: Slow Rise
To really invoke the best flavors from your grains, it takes time. LOTS of time. The more you slow the process down, the better your loaf is likely to taste.
There are exceptions to this rule: breads with a lot of sugars in them, for example. Sugars are yeast's junk food. If you try to stretch out the fermentation of something with a lot of sugar in it, you are likely to get something that tastes more like beer than bread.
But French Bread benefits if you reduce the amount of yeast in your recipe and increase the time you allow the dough to ferment. Reduce the yeast, too, while you are at it. That alone will slow things down significantly.
The lower limit on the amount of yeast you need to add is quite low: I've seen recipes using a pound or two of flour include less than a teaspoon of instant yeast. I typically include 1 teaspoon of instant yeast for each pound of flour I use. Then, depending on my baking schedule, I try to strech the fermentation out as long as I can. Sometimes that means I leave the bowl of dough in the refrigerator overnight. Sometimes I do primary fermentation on the counter then refrigerate the shaped loaves until I want to bake them. Sometimes I just let them rise in a cold room so that it takes 3 hours instead of 45 minutes for them to double in size.
I don't think there is a magic temperature or amount of time that it takes that'll guarantee you great bread every time. So I'll just say "take your time." The flavor of your bread will improve if you do.
On to Number 4: Scoring .