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-   -   Panera Baguette - "Better than Most Baguettes in France!" (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/panera-baguette-better-than-most-baguettes-in-france-960831/)

PalenQ Dec 31st, 2012 11:06 AM

Well I or my friend did not say "baguettes" but "bread" - like in bread used for sandwiches - breads that many French bakeries carry in addition to the staple baguettes - so we are comparing bread to bread not Panera's baguettes to French baguettes.

That said a local supermarket here does make their own baguettes and my French friend said they are on par with most in France - she also says that the quality of baguettes in France is rather haphazzard - not all baguettes in ordinary bakeries are all great tasting to her.

Now she is only a typical French person who does not patronize the fancy gourmet bakeries that Americans who may consider themselves experts in French breads may - she is talking about the hum-drum ordinary patisserie/boulangerie found on practically every street corner in France.

And hers is only one opinion but I did find it interesting and when one thinks of it it is pretty simple to make bread so why cannot places like Panera Bread make bread as good as the average French boulangerie? Well maybe there is some catering to tastes involved, like sweetness but generally making simple bread if pretty simple and most boulangeries I've been in in France seem to make baguettes very simply from ovens in the back - often I think with breads already rolled up and they just have to cook it.

Ackislander Dec 31st, 2012 11:39 AM

Why can't they make bread the way they do in France?

I would guess that it is incompatible with a franchise operation. Is the dough at Panera made centrally, frozen, and baked locally or does it come from a mix, hydrated and stirred locally before baking, as a famous donut chain does?

If would, of course, ask the same question about the Paul chain in France and the UK. Bread at Paul is okay, but it is not artisanal, and it may well be no better than Panera.

If anyone will fly me to Paris tomorrow, I will run down to Panera and collect some samples. Then early Wednesday, I will go to a Paul location and to a couple of neighborhood bakeries and report back to you all here on the results of my taste 'n' texture test!

Premium enonomy is okay.

Nelson Jan 2nd, 2013 08:14 AM

My wife spent much of her childhood in France, FWIW, and her opinion is that Panera, while nothing like the little Rue Mouffetard boulangerie we went to every morning on our Paris visit, is as good as you'll get for an inexpensive American fast food chain.

Neither of us ever set foot in one of the more well known establishments, but have no problems dining in Panera, or recommending Panaera to visitors. Over the holidays we polished off two of their multi-grain baguettes with some of our home made pesto. Yes, there is a bit more sugar than we prefer, but we don't have a Rue Mouffetard boulangerie in our town, and we do have two Paneras.

Ackislander, does that save you all that running around?!

StCirq Jan 2nd, 2013 08:18 AM

<<Well I or my friend did not say "baguettes" but "bread" - like in bread used for sandwiches - breads that many French bakeries carry in addition to the staple baguettes - so we are comparing bread to bread not Panera's baguettes to French baguettes.>>

Then the title of your thread is totally misleading.

PalenQ Jan 2nd, 2013 09:42 AM

Yes I made a mistake in the title and after thinking over corrected it. Thanks for pointing that out.

Ackislander Jan 2nd, 2013 12:14 PM

Nelson asks, "Ackislander, does that save you all that running around?!"

Yesp, I am afraid it does! :-(

aduc Jan 14th, 2013 08:35 PM

They opened up a Panera in the neighborhood and I tried a baguette per this conversation. They only thing it has in common with a French baguette is that they both use water found somewhere on this planet.

There is a baguette from a chain that actually tastes good and it is from Le Pain Quotidien which is a chain from Belgium which makes it Belch.

The same is true for what passes as bagels. Just because it is round, does not make it a bagel. Things like the flour and boiling it before baking should be a consideration.

adrienne Jan 15th, 2013 12:38 AM

I'm lucky I live in an area with good bread and good restaurants and do not need to eat at Panera.

ira Jan 15th, 2013 10:14 AM

Hi PQ,

I think that your friend was trying to say something nice about US food and that is what popped out.

I've eaten Panera bread. I wouldn't go out of my way to do it again.

((I))

PalenQ Jan 15th, 2013 12:26 PM

No Ira she is my ex-wife and BELIEVE me she does not say things just to say something nice - au contraire! And again I mis-stated my headline here as a baguette but it was some kind of sandwich she had when she was talking about that bread being better than most bread in bakeries in France.

kayd Jan 15th, 2013 02:39 PM

The few times I've had a sandwich at Panera, the bread has tasted undercooked, yeasty or doughy, with none of the nicely developed flavor that comes from a long rising time. This occurred at several locations, but all occasions were more than two years ago, so perhaps they learned correct baking times since then.

PalenQ Jan 15th, 2013 03:24 PM

weird because Panera's bases their reputation on their breads - formerly known as the St Louis Bread Company before changing to a more nicer sounding name.

I guess the point is that not all French bread in France is that good either!

StCirq Jan 15th, 2013 03:36 PM

There's plenty of bad bread in France, especially now at the chain supermarkets. The French talk about it all the time, at least where I hang out. People make their own or go to boulangeries artisanales. But honestly, almost any bread I've had in France tastes better to me than Panera. I actually think Harris Teeter's Brea Bakery turns out some darn good bread, not the baguettes so much (though they're good), but caraways and pumpernickels and boules and Italian and sourdough and asiago cheese, and jalapeño and other specialties. Better than Whole Foods, better than the Firehook and other specialty bakeries around here...just really good bread.

PalenQ Jan 16th, 2013 05:42 AM

There's plenty of bad bread in France, especially now at the chain supermarket>

You live in a very different world than my French friend - she says Carrefour has great bread - they bake it themselves just like any boulangerie and have state-of-the-art equipment, etc.

And why would any mom and pop boulangerie make bread any better than Panera or any American operation would want to - making baguettes is not rocket science - bread, water and flower pretty much - now talking about the typical boulangerie not the artisanale boulangeries you obviously do to - the average French person does not but goes to their local boulangerie and gets basic French bread, which is fairly simple to make.

I'll take my French friend's take on French things over an American who thinks they know more about France and the French than the French themselves.

To say that supermarkets like Carrefour makes bad bread shows you really know little of what you talk - have you ever had bread fresh from Carrefour - I seriously doubt that or you would not say it is 'bad bread' - it is no worse than the local boulangerie by my friend's house she says - but she is French what does she know about French bread?

stokebailey Jan 16th, 2013 06:13 AM

I live a couple of miles from the original St. Louis (or "Bread Co" as we call it)/Panera, visited it several times, and remember how great it was to have a coffeehouse/bakery where you could get good sandwiches and soup, do paperwork in relative peace. It was groundbreaking around here in the good bread dept, pleasant music, consistently decent lunches. We stop at the one in Rolla MO and the Cedar Rapids IA one on long drives, but otherwise seldom nowadays.

So it's fun to see your friend's take on it, Pal.

Just returning from Paris, and having twice used the Paul at r.d. Buci and r.d. Seine as a meeting place, I now wish I'd gotten a baguette there for comparison. We thought of the Paul chain as roughly analogous to Panera, but on another plane in my opinion. Their six grain loaf was wonderful.

StCirq Jan 16th, 2013 08:36 AM

<<To say that supermarkets like Carrefour makes bad bread shows you really know little of what you talk>>

HAHAHA!

Michael Jan 16th, 2013 08:57 AM

<i>the average French person does not but goes to their local boulangerie and gets basic French bread, which is fairly simple to make.</i>

The local <i>boulangeries</i> are very often <i>artisanales</i>, at least in smaller towns and villages. The bread is better, even if the ingredients are flour (I have not seen any bread with flower), salt and water. That is the only way they can compete against the mass production found in supermarkets. The same thing is true of butchers who often have their own suppliers of local meat--at a higher price than the supermarket.

PalenQ Jan 16th, 2013 09:20 AM

I have seen to bakery at Carrefour and they make it just like the local boulangerie near her house - in fact that small boulanderie brings in baguettes already made and just bakes them as I believe many small boulangeries do.

Again I'll take her word - a French person who has eaten French bread all her life that Carrefour breads are on a par or better than her local boulangerie - she says that the quality of breads in man boulangeries is not always that good.

Again we are not talking about the artisinale bakeries but the regular mom and pop boulaneries, which I often seen bring in baguettes already made and just heat them - is that not true of many of these?

willperson Jan 16th, 2013 10:09 AM

Any bakery in France, especially Paris, has good to great everything. Maybe Panera is tasty but the French do know how to bake and make wonderful pastries.
Most of all the setting in which it is eaten makes French breads better IMO.

PalenQ Jan 16th, 2013 11:04 AM

Most of all the setting in which it is eaten makes French breads better IMO.>

ah yes and this I believe is why folks think any ole baguette from any ole boulangerie is the best - you could take a baguette from one of my local independent supermarkets known for its baked goods and switch it in a French bakery and most folks above who insist French bread is always great would smack their lips and say 'ah that is so so good'.

anyway by French friend was emphatic that not nearly all boulangeries have good bread in France - I do think it is a myth that all boulangeries have great bread - good bread but not always made from scratch - the one thing important to French is to have fresh bread - nothing a day old and that may also make a difference there than here where bread may be sitting out all day and into the next.


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