Food History

Here's Why France Wants to Protect the Baguette

January 16, 2018

What do you think French President Emmanuel Macron is calling the envy of the world? Could it be the architectural marvel that is the Eiffel Tower, the country’s inordinate amount of roundabouts (30,000 to be exact), its 15 Nobel Prize in Literature winners? While these are all accomplishments to tout, Macron had something else in mind: the classic French baguette or baguette de tradition, he claims, is what the international community should be recognizing.

This week, the French president threw his support behind a bid to get the baguette recognized as a cultural treasure on the UNESCO’s world heritage list. This motion comes on the heels of last year’s announcement that the Neapolitan pizza received the designation. The baguette is up for consideration as an Intangible Cultural Heritage—a list of customs and practices that prove more nebulous to geographically locate on a single site, like tango dancing or yoga.

Admission to the list would allow the classic baguette a certain degree of cultural significance, along with upping the standard for its preparation. The motion for cultural recognition is a reaction to the proliferation of baguette impostors that French bakers have noticed cropping up in supermarkets. The classic baguette is made using only flour, yeast, salt, and water, while ready-made versions often contain other ingredients that tamper with the composition of the traditional bread.

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Will the baguette make it on the list? The answer remains to be seen. It took a petition signed by more than two million Italians to get pizza the designation, so the baguette’s success could be a while away. Perhaps Macron’s support could speed up the process…

Do you consider the baguette the envy of the world? Tell us how you really feel in the comments.

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Valerio is a freelance food writer, editor, researcher and cook. He grew up in his parent's Italian restaurants covered in pizza flour and drinking a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he's worked as a cheesemonger in New York City and a paella instructor in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany where he's most likely to be found eating shawarma.


Celeste S. November 12, 2019
Yes, definitely the baguette should make it on the list. At least in the US, the food is incredibly altered and made with awful ingredients that are not healthy. All is done for speed and profit and does not address nutritional needs or even enjoyment of the food. The more we can preserve the artisanal all natural ways of food production and show people what really good food is, the better.
Adam J. January 18, 2018
My absolute #1 favorite food is a piece of fresh baguette from Georgetown bakery in St. John's, buttered and with a sprinkle of kosher salt.
Nicole B. January 18, 2018
I do! As a French person living in the U.S. I feel so bad when I see what some bakers call "baguettes". A person in France with not much money can, not only live with home-made sandwichesm but enjoy them!