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Real French Bread

Jeneanne with her Spoils

Jeanine with her Spoils

One of my favorite experiences in France has been the boulangeries. The back wall is lined with baskets of baguettes and other breads, while the display cases are filled with everything from €,80 croissants to €16,00 tartes. My favorite snacks were plain croissants or chausson pommes, an apple filled pastry, but I would love a chance to taste anything in those bakeries.

The boulangeries are wonderful all over France, but the Le Vignaud experience was special. There is no boulangerie in the village, so the bread is delivered several times a week in a bread truck. The driver would blast his horn and park a few houses away, and after running upstairs for my wallet I would trot down the street and stand with the other villagers as we bought our bread for the day. It was a good chance to say hello to the neighbors and let them know I can say more than “Bonjour,” although there’s not much more than that. I was able to practice my numbers in French when the driver told me the total, and I tried to make small talk. But even with the language barrier, it was still an integral part of my stay in France and specifically Le Vignaud.

Every morning I bought one or two baguettes for our meals, and a croissant for however many guests Jason was entertaining that morning. I looked forward to having that connection with rural French life, and buying my bread for the day became a sort of ritual. You could live in Paris all your life, but you will only see a bread truck in the tiny villages that many townies have never heard of. What a luxury to have that delicious bread delivered to your door, fresh every day, but in Le Vignaud it is just a matter of fact!

4 Comments

  1. b. dodds says:

    I did not realize my grand daughter posted this until we chatted about it tonight, and I shared my memories of “un stuck de pain” from 1953 to 1955.

    I am definitely not a creative writer. Shortly before my 16th birthday in 1953, my mother, sister and I joined my father who was stationed in Orleans, France at the Coligney Casserne.

    The ladies had a luxurious crossing on the USS United States, a luxury liner in her maiden year, and we were first class. What a thrill, but I digress.

    My father had rented half of a chateau, shared with another military family. We were miles from no where, yet the village of Donnerey, boasted un petit general store. I do not remember what they stocked other than vin ordinaire and bread delivered daily via truck.

    Being a typical American teenager and the store being at least 2 kilometer from the chateau I never made an issue of meeting the truck.

    The bread was to die for.

    After nine months we moved to an apartment in Orleans. On the corner was a boulangerie. The first morning in the new lodging at 5:30 I was suddenly awaken by the most heavenly aroma, I could not identify. After a couple more minutes I knew it was bread, heavenly bread.

    I stopped by the bowl to get francs, rolled up my pajama legs, put on my raincoat, walked to the corner, purchased 6 croissants, came home, made tea with honey and ate 3 of them.

    I figured I was entitled since the other three residents were still sleeping soundly, they would never know I had more than one croissant.

    I also lived in Germany 5 years later in American Government Apartments. We had a brochen (German hard rolls about the size of a man’s fist) who delivered bread to our door each morning about 6:30 still warm.

    It was an incentive for a young wife to get up, just to enjoy the fresh bread. Europe knows how to do bread.

    1. Jason says:

      Thank you so much for sharing this! Wonderful to read…

      I especially like your recounting of eating three of the croissants before the others woke up… I’m sure Juli was want to do the same since she would often be the first to rise, and the one to meet the bread truck with the others were still sleeping!

      1. Julianne says:

        Unfortunately I was not as crafty as my grandmama. But I definitely ate a cup or two of yogurt in the early morning solitude, usually with an apple snuck in there as well. That was also my favorite way to eat chocolate: on the sly!

  2. Jason says:

    Photos Added!

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