Yet, even though you can find a baguette everywhere - nowhere is it as good as it is in France. A good bakery in any other part of the world usually boasts that their baguettes are baked fresh daily. In Paris, most boulangeries bake fresh baguettes twice a day. At least.
To a Parisian few things are more disagreeable than to find oneself at dinner with only the morning batch of baguettes available. Quelle horreur! And for millions of tourists each year, one of the highlights of their trip is that first bite of a crisp, still warm from the oven baguette as they stroll down a Parisian boulevard.
Fortunately, a new trend is emerging in France which provides a tasty antidote to this syndrome of ordinariness. I stumbled upon an example of this one day deep in the heart of Montmartre. I knew this boulangerie was something special the moment I walked in.
From the multi-colored ceiling that seemed like a Matisse creation to the captivating 3-D pattern on the floor, this place just exuded uniqueness. This is the GC Artisan Boulangerie, 22 rue Caulaincourt.
The GC stands for Gontran Cherrier, the culinary artist behind the creations in this delightfully offbeat boulangerie. And when you catch your first whiff of their signature curry baguette, you are transported. As you bite into a warm sample slice of this meld of east and west, the crispy freshness and subtle Indian flavor immediately seduces you. But your journey has just begun.
Follow your nose to the chickpea and lemon multi-grain baguette designed to accompany fish. Bliss. Move on to the focaccia blended with olive oil and aromatic herbs, the "gallette des rois" (traditional Epiphany cake) baked with pistachio, lime, and almond cream - or Panettone suffused with orange peel, lemons, raisins, and bergamot; each display becomes a spellbinding discovery.
And the fact that GC is not near a metro stop is a blessing in-disguise since it compels you to walk through one of the most charming, and truly Parisian neighborhoods anywhere in the capital.
Few tourists make it this far, which provides you with a truly original and organic slice of French neighborhood culture - and a surefire remedy for everything ordinary about visiting a Parisian boulangerie.
Bon appétit !