For the first time since 1789, French bakers have been allowed to take their vacation whenever they want without having to notify the authorities in advance. In the past, French laws put in place after the revolution had prevented this in an attempt to ensure that enough bread was available at all times to prevent famines. That law had been scrapped as unnecessary last year.
Moreover, French bakers had long complained about an oversupply of bakery products in the summer. Each August, much of the country takes a month or so off to enjoy an overly long annual vacation. Tourists often describe eerily abandoned streets in Paris, because nearly all locals are gone. Before the law was changed last year, about one third of all bakeries closed in August -- but many bakers say that even those that remained open weren't able to sell much.
“A lot of bakeries and supermarkets are open during the summer... Our real issue is the customer shortage," Dominique Anract, president of the Professional Chamber of Craftsman and Bakers of Paris, told French newspaper Le Figaro, according to a translation by Radio France Internationale.
French media have been quick in pointing out that tourists and locals are not exactly experiencing a famine: There's still enough baked goods in Paris, according to their research. Consequently, many French papers have blamed British media for exaggerating. The Telegraph newspaper, for instance, had predicted "scenes of angered locals loitering outside vacant boulangeries," (the French word for bakeries) whereas the Daily Mail described it as the "most nightmarish of things this summer."
"Paris remains a big city where you can accomplish the mission (of finding a baguette) if you accept to walk a few meters more," French news site Atlantico responded. Nevertheless, some Parisians are not fully convinced that the baguette crisis is simply a British invention.
"I went out to get a baguette a few days ago and the two closest boulangeries to me were both closed for the first time ever," one Parisian woman was quoted as saying by news site The Local. "Only the 'bad' ones stayed open."
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