The Weird Old Law That Was Keeping Paris Flush with Baguettes in the Summer

By Noah Kaufman |
FWX FRANCE PAYING PEOPLE TO BIKE TO WORK_0

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What happens in Paris if the baguettes run out? Some people are worried we might soon see.

The mayor of Paris recently rolled back a centuries-old law strictly limiting and scheduling the vacation time of French bakers. The law came on the heels of the French Revolution, during which rioters actually hung a baker with no bread to sell. The arcane (by today’s standards) law aimed to make sure Paris would never be without bread again. Unfortunately, as is often the case with large bureaucracies, laws came into conflict when France also mandated three weeks of vacation for everyone in the country—bakers included—which was typically taken during the summer months. Concern over a bread shortage worried local officials enough that they amended the original rules for Paris’s bakeries, dividing them into two groups—one that could close in July and one in August.

But today that law is no more and French bakers are free; free to take their mandatory vacation whenever they want with little thought as to the possible croissant catastrophe that could befall their city. It’s caused concern among some French citizens and worse, the purchase of (gasp) substandard baked goods. One man told The Telegraph that he was forced to buy half-baked bread and another Parisian told French site The Local that only the “bad” bakeries were still open.

Right now it seems that Paris will not run out of baked goods, but they are certainly tougher to come by. This might be the first time a group of people has been actively excited for the end of summer vacation.

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