A Tradition in the village and Fête du Pain

In the Cernex village square there is a wonderful big wood oven and every spring at the Vide Grenier (the french equivalent to the car boot sale) it is fired up for the day to produce the most delicious fougasse bread, by a local baker.  

This is a great day out for the family in our village as apart from the stalls set up by locals selling their goods and chattels, it is really a social event to raise money locally.  There is a bar, crêpe maker and various other snacks and drinks for sale.

Fête du Pain

I thought it appropriate to write a post about the fougasse and bread now as May 16th is the Saints Day of Saint-Honoré, the patron saint of bakers and in France this is a staple that deserves to be honoured and it is during the week of this Saints day that the week-long ‘Fête du Pain’ is celebrated all over France.
This festival of bread was created in 1996 by Jean-Pierre Raffarin, the then Minister for small business and artisans.  the idea of the festival is to meet the bakers, learn about their business and their products, in an informal ‘open house’ and friendly way.  It is also the opportunity to learn about the business opportunities, training and qualifications and to encourage the younger generation to become bakers.  So where ever you are in France this week stroll along to your local baker and enjoy the ambiance of the fête. 

Bread in France is an important part of the culture. Here are some interesting stats, taken from the website  Boulangerie.  In France there are close to 33,000 bakers with 37,000 points of sale offering bread daily. In fact more than 15 million people visit a boulangerie/pâtisserie (bakery) in France every day!

The Fougasse is a flat bread typically associated with the Provence area but each region has its own variations. The fougasse is normally the shape that resembles an ear of wheat and it is closed like a calzone and filled with savoury things like cheese, lardons, olives etc.  It is baked in a wood-fired oven and has the distinctive woody flavour.
I am planning a more in-depth look at french bread and bakeries as I have been invited to go ‘behind the scenes’ and talk to our local village baker. Watch this blog! Have you come across the Fête du Pain anywhere in France? 
Let me know if you would like to know more about any specific french foods.

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