French bread for beginners

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All boulangeries (bakeries) have baguettes (or flûtes), which are long and thin, as well as wider loaves simply known as pain (bread), both of which are at their best if eaten within four hours of baking.

Other types of bread, which come in a wide range of sizes and shapes, vary from shop to shop and region to region, but since they are all on display, making a selection is easy.

The following is just some of the types of bread you will find at a boulangerie.

1. Baguette – the standard long, crispy French loaf weighing 250g

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Image by Lec

2. Ficelle – a thinner, crustier 200g version of the baguette (really like a very thick breadstick)

3. Flûte – similar to, though often heavier than, a baguette

4. Pain – a wider, less crispy version of a baguette weighing 400g

5. Pain d’avoine – oat bread

6. Pain azyme – a flat unleavened loaf

7. Pain biologique (pain bio) – organic bread

8. Pain de campagne – country loaf

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Image by laser2K

9. Pain aux cinq/six/sept céréales – five/six/seven grain bread

10. Pain complet – wholemeal bread

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Image by traaf

11. Pain cuit au feu de bois – bread baked in a woodfire oven

12. Pain de froment – wheat bread

13. Pain de gruau – fine wheaten bread

14. Pain au levain – traditionally made yeast bread that is usually a bit chewy

15. Pain au pavot – bread with poppy seeds

16. Pain de seigle – rye bread

17. Pain de seigle noir – dark rye bread (pumpernickel)

18. Pain de son – bread with bran

Along with bread, bakeries usually sell baked goods that are lumped together under the term viennoiserie. These include:

1. Croissant – flaky crescent-shaped roll, usually served for breakfast

2. Pain au chocolat –a flat ‘croissant’ filled with chocolate

3. Brioche – bun; a small roll or cake made of yeast, flour, eggs and butter, sometimes flavoured with nuts, currants or candied fruits, baked in many shapes and usually served at breakfast

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Image of brioche by zigazou76