Good bread is one of the greatest of all French culinary delights. More specifically: crusty golden baguettes with our favorite salty Brittany butter is a simple yet irressistible treat. Finding the best traditional baguette in the city is no doubt high on the list of things to do for visitors. Fortunately The City of Paris held its annual contest last week to guide us on our quest for the best baguette in Paris.
Grand Prix de la Baguette Tradition de Française de la Ville de Paris – the Best Baguette of Paris
Every year in the center of Paris, French bakers make their submissions for the best baguette, awarded by the City of Paris. This year, 6 local Parisians joined the panel of judges (including past HiP Paris contributor Meg Zimbeck) to savor the entries and anoint the best baguette in the Paris competition. This year there were 175 contenders for the Grand prize money of €4000. The lucky winner also has the the honor of being the supplier of baguettes for both the Town Hall of Paris and for President Macron and his guests at the Elysée Palace for an entire year.
What makes a great baguette?
Smell, taste, texture, cooking and appearance are the criteria used to judge the competition. Each baguette must have an elongated shape that is 55-70 cm in length, weigh 250-300 grams, and have 18 grams of salt per kilo of wheat flour. It should be elastic with a crunchy crust. Judges also looked for irregular sized and spaced holes in the interior indicating proper fermentation.
Who Makes the Best Baguette in Paris and Where to Find it?
The coveted award of best baguette of the year goes to…..(drumroll please)
Tharshan Selvarajah from Au levain des Pyrénées, located on 44 rue des Pyrénées, Paris 75020.
One interesting facet of this prestigious award is that despite the traditional French baguette being an iconic and integral part of French culture, a number of past winners have family origins outside of France. This has included bakers such as Karim Akrout of Les Boulangers de Reuilly, Mahmoud M’seddi (who at 27 in 2018 was the youngest winner of the prize) of Boulangerie 2M, Djibril Bodian from Le Grenier à Pain in the 18th arrondissement, Yosuké Fujie of Maison Landemaine Martyrs, Anis Bouabsa, along with others.
This year’s winner, Selvarajah, moved to France from Sri Lanka to France 16 years ago after studying law in his native country. He worked in an Italian restaurant in his early days in France. One of the patrons, Xavier Maulave, was the owner of a local bakery, Au Levain des Pyrénées. He later offered a job to Selvarajah. Accepting the position at the local boulangerie, despite knowing little about baking bread, turned out to be a life changing decision for Selvarajah. Upon winning, Selvarajah told AFP “I cried because we are foreigners and we came here to learn how to make traditional French bread …I am very happy to have won the prize.”
Other winners of this year’s competition are (in order):
- Thierry Guyot, Boulangerie-pâtisserie Guyot, 28 rue Monge, 75005
- Jocelyn Lohezic, Maison Lohezic, 143 rue de Courcelles, 75017
- Benjamin Turquier, Tout Autour du Pain, 134 rue de Turenne, 75003
- Florian Bleas, Aux Délices de Vaugirard, 48 rue Madame, 75006
- Frank Tombarel, Le Grenier de Félix, 64 avenue Félix Faure, 75015
- Kilani Ounissi, Boulangerie Kilani, 191 rue du faubourg Saint-Antoine, 75011
- Maxime Julien, Les Saveurs de Lévis, 41 rue de Lévis, 75017
- Mohkam Karoui, Le Temps d’une Gourmandise, 94 boulevard de Port-Royal, 75005
- Kouni Elayeb, Le Délice de Bagnolet, 42 boulevard Mortier, 75020
And if you can’t make it to Paris to taste-test the winning baguette for yourself? Check out this baguette recipe from past winner Anis Bouabsa (formerly of Au duc de la chapelle) and make your own fresh bread at home!
- A fresh baguette is so good paired with French butter! Here’s why butter is better in France.
- Another favorite from any French bakery: croissants. And you don’t have to search far and wide because we know where to find the best croissants in Paris!
- A helpful tip is to know some street lingo especially when ordering at a boulangerie. Find out some common French-isms to learn for your next trip in France.
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