Baguettes are evil

<Photo of an avalanche at the bottom of La Balme, La Clusaz, in April 2013>

Talk to any Francophile and they’ll praise the baguette as a tasty piece of baked perfection. I am not one of those people. I don’t like baguettes. It’s controversial, obviously, but it’s the truth. I get annoyed when I hear people talk about ‘delicious baguettes’. I think French baguettes are overrated and tasteless lumps of crust. Okay, sometimes they have some flavour but in general, I don’t understand the hype. Smother it with enough salty butter from Brittany and it becomes a mouthwatering treat, but that’s due to the butter, not the bread.

Thankfully, French bread doesn’t stop at baguettes. The other options such as multigrain and nutty bread are delicious and it’s a wonder baguettes still sell at all.

On top of all this, baguettes are dangerous. My bread injuries are embarrassing. The most common injury has been sawing off the skin on my finger when the knife jumps off that ridiculously crunchy peak along the top of the baguette (pictured). Less common was the time I split my lip open on the crust of the bread. Blood dripped everywhere, like some sort of French baguette horror movie — ‘Attack of the killer baguettes’, anyone? The stupidest injury of all would have to be losing half my front tooth while chewing on a baguette just a few weeks ago. Okay, it was the same half of my tooth that I broke years ago in La Clusaz, but as I crunched down and felt a hard lump of tooth in my mouth, I knew immediately that the baguette was once again the victor. How many others have broken teeth on baguettes?

I’ve heard of other people needing stitches after trying to push a piece of stale baguette onto the fondue stick during traditional Savoyarde fondue soirées, but this hasn’t happened to me (yet). My other pet peeves about baguettes are that they are:

  • often full of holes (where do you put the butter?);
  • often too dry and/or overcooked;
  • too small to pop slices in the toaster without them getting stuck; and,
  • like concrete by the next day (whereas other French breads can be eaten).

The best thing possible with a baguette is to soak it in eggs and milk and fry it, French toast style: it’s called ‘pain perdu‘ (‘lost bread’) in French. Am I alone in my disdain for this supposedly top French food?


I'm a technical author, journalist and writer from Australia who has been living in Europe since 2000 and exploring the world from there. My passions are writing, snow sports and travel.

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15 comments on “Baguettes are evil
  1. Ron Rundle says:

    Wendy!!! One of the things I look forward to most, is a warm baguette in the morning. I love bread and I love baguettes! Love, love, love!! Do you hear me?! There is nothing like them in Australia. Some bakers try hard, but don’t quite make the grade. Baguettes, baguettes, waaaaaaaaa I want one now!!

  2. Wendy says:

    I’m sorry, Ron! I remember laughing at a bendy, soft ‘French stick’ at a supermarket in Melbourne. If I could post a baguette to you without it turning into a giant pumice stone, I would.

  3. Rosemary K says:

    Hi Wendy, I commiserate. I haven’t eaten ordinary baguettes for years now. When I do eat a baguette, I buy the traditionnel or multi-cérealés type. I now make my own bread. When I have to buy bread from a bakery, I specify that I don’t want a hard crust. I end up with my hard palate completely torn apart! I think we are luckier in Paris than in the provinces though. At restaurants, they often serve very good baguette traditionnelle. I think the object they call “pain” is worse!

  4. Dan says:

    Wow, do I agree with you! I just don’t get all the hype. The crust hurts your mouth, unless you happen to get the rare loaf with a soft crust.

  5. caro says:

    Wendy, une baguette c’est du pain blanc.
    pas de grain.
    ça doit etre consommé dans la journée et FRAIS.
    ça croustille.
    tu dois absolument l’acheter dans une vraie boulangerie, le pain de la Panière par exemple est un FAUX pain.
    Et, il doit y avoir des trous dedans, sinon ce n’est pas de la vraie baguette.
    si tu t’arraches le palais ou les dents avec, c’est ou que le pain est mauvais, ou que tu es autralienne.

    (JR, je te laisse traduire :))) )

  6. Wendy says:

    Rosemary, I think making your own bread is the best idea. Dan, I’m pleased it’s not just me that feels this way. Those sharp crusts are just too sharp!

    Caro, agreed about the baguette being white only (that’s why I go for loaves of multigrain and NO baguette!). I’d never even bother trying to eat it the next day. Funny you should mention La Panière: I find their bread by far tastier than the stuff they sell here in St Jean de Sixt. There are never any holes in La Panière baguettes, so if that’s the measure, then I’m definitely (and happily!) buying the wrong baguettes. The closest bakery to here specialises in cardboard-based baguettes, I suspect.

  7. Lesley says:

    We go for a local baker’s ceraine (brownish & grainy) and a salmontine (never seen it written, but white with two fingers at each end). I have to admit to enjoying the range of breads from Lidl that are cooked in the shop. If not frozen immediatly for later use then it’s in the bin or bread pudding.

  8. sabine says:

    Hi, being baguette lover and French, I feel I need to react… I slightly disagree with your friend.. a GOOD baguette is good the day after as well… being white brand does not matter..A good baguette is not overcooked and has reasonable size of holes, and homogeneously dispatched in the baguette…

    A baguette which is hard enough the day after, with result to break your teeth, is the OBVIOUS sign that the bread dough has been frozen. Law says that the shop should claim this, but obviously most of them don’t or in very small letters, in a hidden place.

    but I agree, La Paniere’s baguette is not real one.

    Slices now.. you never cut slice of baguette (so, no cross section) ! you cut slice of pain de campagne, (or any other bread with same shorter and wider shape), you should cut a quarter, or a 5th of baguette, and then in 2 horizontal pieces.. and this one, you can insert in the toaster.

    Pain perdu: this exists in different areas of the word.. originally this was made to avoid old bread wastage especially for poor people.. (one would say it has to do with christian symbolism… shouldn’t through away the christ body)..over the years, it has been enriched with a lot of flavor… and should be done with large slices of any bread, except from baguette (it requires more crumb than crust.. the crumb absorbs all the liquid)…
    The “true” with pain perdu, is that it can really be disgusting and heavy if the ingredients are not put in the good quantity.. but sometimes it can be a miracle of flavors 🙂 (so avoid eating it at restaurant and find a good friend who cooks that.)

    Bon appétit

    ps: hop your teeth is fixed now 🙂

  9. sabine says:

    the “truc” (not true)….

    by the way, if your slices are stop small, probably you are cutting a Ficelle (“string”)

    sabine… 4 years of frustration for quitting my favorite boulangerie in Paris, (no decent bread in Geneva… actually, they should all go to jail for daring producing and selling such breads)

  10. Ivy says:

    Hi there i am kavin, its my first time to commenting anywhere, when i read this paragraph i thought i could also create comment due to
    this good piece of writing.

  11. I never understand the hype of eating baguettes, considering the sharp hard crust outside could be the most dangerous weapon to kill you without any efforts. That is also why I come across your site a few weeks ago when I totally agreed what you have said..

    Ridiculously, I have been working in hotel whilst enjoying my time working in a office full of French. Every morning, they come in with a cup of coffee and a Baguette! That is another period, I doubt again, why French loves Baguettes. So, I decided to take all the courages and walk to the pastry kitchen – grabbed one Baguette, freshly baked from oven.

    This time, as usual, I tried my best to bite it, secretly hope my mouth remains intact. The experience, however is entirely different, the crust is hard but brittle, it cracks which allows me to finally eat a whole piece of Baguette (it is moist inside along with the wonderful milky smell).

    So Wendy, my advice is go for a fresh Baguette (only freshly bake) and I give you my word it will change you. Perhaps not falling in love with it but at least see Baguette as an enjoyment.

    Windie from Hong Kong

    • Wendy says:

      Hi Windie, and thanks for your comment. You’re right: a fresh, warm baguette is by far superior to one that has cooled down and hardened further. I love it when my visit to a bakery coincides with the latest batch, but it’s far too rare. 🙂

  12. Erica says:

    I came across your thread while googling to find out if anyone else had ever broken their toe with a baguette. Very dangerous bread.

    • Wendy says:

      OH dear, your broke your toe with a baguette, Erica? Did your search find anyone else? How do you break a toe with a baguette? Evil things!

  13. Anti-BSaguette says:

    Baguettes are overrated, it ain’t no big surprise! Even when it comes to “good” or “fresh” (or “whatever” baguettes), you could probably get much more out of shaping the dough into JUST ANYTHING ELSE.

    Yes, the shape’s awkward and difficult to toast. It’s hard, not just “crunchy”. It’s scattered with holes, not just “airy”.

    You got rid of your monarchy, fine! Now please get rid of baguettes, for everyone’s sake!

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About me

Wendy Hollands writer in Annecy, France

I'm an experienced technical writer based in the French Alps. I enjoy learning French language nuances, winter sports and travel. Drop by, my other site.

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