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Fresh Bread and Village Life in Sablet

Village Life Sablet

From the day we began our search for a house in the South of France, our top priority was for the house to be located within walking distance of village business’ including a boulangerie (bakery).

As readers know, we ended up buying a house in the middle of Sablet, a small village (pop. 1,264 by the last count) that sits on a hill at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail (a small chain of mountains in the Vaucluse).

The main Sablet industries are winemaking and tourism so there is always life in the village in comparison to other villages where tourism is the primary business so there is little activity or life in the off-season. This is an important point. Many villages in Provence, such as lovely Seguret, are active in summer months and peak holiday season, but that is not the case for the rest of the year. As a result, some villages cannot support the “necessities” – a butcher, baker and neighbourhood bar.  Sablet has it all including two bakeries! Continue reading here to discover by Michel’s favourite bakery in Sablet.

Saint Quentin la Poterie market @perfprovence

Bread in France

A passion for bread is a serious affair in France. It is entirely normal that one might buy their baguette at one bakery, head to another for croissants and viennoiseries, and a third for specialty bread or pastries. For North Americans used to one-stop-shopping or soon enough drone delivery this seems crazy but believe us the bread is fabulous in France. Michel notes that there are 35,000 boulangeries in France, one for every 1800 people in France (source: French National Bakery and Confectionery Association).

Know Your French Bread

Baguette – Translates into a stick. Long and straight this bread is iconic, the one you see in classic images of French shoppers. The typical baguette is about half a pound (250 grams). There are no preservatives in the ingredients so the “stick” will become hard quite quickly, which is why they are baked several times a day. There are some variations on the baguette ingredients such as the addition of whole grains. The perfect one needs to be crusty and chewy, never limp.

Baguette Bread in Provence

Baguette Ordinaire is made with quick-rising yeast and white flour and must cost less than one euro.

Baguette Traditionnelle must be made according to the “Décret Pain de 1993”. According to this decree, this baguette must be made with just flour, yeast, salt, and water. It’s usually hand-formed, as evident by the pointy ends and bumps in the loaves.

Boules – Rounded in shape these loaves have a hard crust and soft interior. The ingredients vary.

Ficelle – Looks just like a miniature baguette, it is just the right size to use for tapenade or other spreads for the apéro hour.

Pain de Campagne is a bit more of a rustic loaf, often with whole grains or other ingredients.

Pain d’Épi is similar to a baguette but shaped like a wheat stalk.

Pain aux Céréales is bread made with whole grains.

Pain de Seigle is rye bread

Pain aux Noix is walnut bread. Paula shares her recipe for this loaf.

Pain au Chocolate

Viennoiseries are baked goods such as croissants that are made with eggs, lots of butter, milk, cream and in some cases sugar. Want to make croissants and pain au chocolat at home? Here is a recipe.

Gluten-free (sans gluten) options are easier to find than in the past. These flours are suitable for most a gluten sensitivities:

Buckwheat flour = farine de sarrasin or blé noir.

Rice flour = farine de riz

Chestnut flour = farine de chataigne

Beware, if you see a menu item that is pannée that means it’s breaded, so it’s best to ask what they are using in the recipe. The same goes for an item en croûte, this means there is a crust.

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Michel and Shirley

Michel and Shirley

Michel and Shirley, live in wine country, in Windsor, California. They have a full family with two beautiful daughters and five amazing grandchildren. Michel's day job is as CEO of Chancellor Health Care, a company which provides housing and services to older adults.

Previously a co-owner of a popular French bistro called Bistro des Copains located in Western Sonoma County California. The Bistro was closed in early 2015, after nine years!

In 2008, after searching for years and visiting many houses they bought a 17th century stone village house in the medieval village of Sablet which is in the Vaucluse region of Provence France.

Please read about the Sablet House (available for rent) and follow their blog Our House in Provence.

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