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French bakers bid for UN World Heritage status for their baguettes

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Dominique Anrac, president of the National Confederation of French Bakers, contends the baguette, along with the Eiffel tower, is one of the main symbols of France and ought to get World Heritage status. Pic: ©iStock/encrier
Dominique Anrac, president of the National Confederation of French Bakers, contends the baguette, along with the Eiffel tower, is one of the main symbols of France and ought to get World Heritage status. Pic: ©iStock/encrier
France’s president has supported the National Confederation of French Bakers' (INBP) tender to UNESCO to add the baguette to its Intangible Cultural Heritage List.

According to Emmanuel Macron, the baguette should have World Heritage status as it “is envied in the whole world”.

Lantmanned Unibake has acquired Anderson Bakery that supplies bake-off baguettes in Sweden. iStockElenathewise

In a media interview, the French president said the baguette is part of “the daily life of the French, in the morning, at midday and in the evening. It's not a matter of beliefs; everyone has it.”

INBP president Dominique Anract is calling on the UN agency to protect the quality of the traditional baguette against “the increasing weight of big supermarkets and convenience stores in the retail of bread.”

Preserving tradition

Anract said the increased competition faced by traditional bakeries endangers the preservation of the bakers’ expertise and skills.

In 1993, the ‘baguette de tradition’ was set, ruling that the traditional French baguette could only be made using only four ingredients: flour, yeast, salt and water.

“Today, there are 33,000 artisan bakeries, employing 180,000 people, who serve bread all over France. This territorial network is unique throughout the world, we must not lose it,” ​said Anract.

The elusive list

Since 2008, the United Nation’s cultural body updates its list of ‘intangible cultural heritage of humanity’, recognized as a repository of cultural diversity and creative expression.

The list mostly comprises crafts or traditional practices such as yoga, falconry or tango dancing, but also includes food and beverages, such as Belgian’s beer culture and Korea’s kimchi, as well as the Gastronomic Meal of the French (included in 2010).

Last year – after almost a decade of petitioning – Naples’ pizza-making techniques finally made the list, which has obviously spurred a similar desire for heritage status by France for its baguette.

“I know our bakers. They saw the Neapolitans succeed in getting their pizza classified under UNESCO world heritage and they said ‘Why not the baguette?’ And they’re right,”​ said Macron.

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