Moisan: Ficelle Apéritif

A ficelle is a small baguette, whose name actually means ‘string’. But in French bakery lingo it means a thin little crusty baguette. A ficelle makes a perfect petit snack, especially one like this that’s crusted with lots of poppy and sesame seeds.


One of my all-time, tip-top favorite breads in Paris is the ficelle apéritif baked at Moisan bakery. Although primarily known for their large rustic pains biologiques, breads made with organic flour, these slender little loaves boast a prime ratio of crust-to-crumb, with a golden, crackly crust enclosing an earthy, slightly-tangy mie within.

But what makes this little devil so appealing to me is the heavy-hand the baker lavishes it with sea salt.


Each little bit I rip off has a generous amount of seeds. Not just a measly few, but just the right amount of coarse sea salt—enough to taste each grain but not enough to be overwhelming or salty.

(Which is a good thing, since salt can lead to thirst and thirst leads to water and…well…we all remember where that leads in Paris.)

Moisan also makes lots of pastries and other treats, which I usually bypass for my mid-morning snack when I’m shopping in the nearby Marche d’Aligre, since the little ficelle apéritif makes the ideal treat for me. And it’s just the right size for one.

(If you’re with me, apologies in advance, but I ain’t sharing. I’m a creature of habit and have my system down pat.)

I tear pieces off while doing my food shopping, and if there’s any left when I get home I finish the rest off with lunch. It makes the perfect accompaniment to a smear of lusty, olive-rich tapenade or a dewy-white crumble of fresh chèvre. Or both.

If I manage to save any for breakfast the next day (or I was clever enough to buy two), I toast it and slather it with a knife-load of life-changing Jean-Yves Bordier buerre demi-sel and a drizzle of spicy chestnut honey.

C’est extraordinaire!

Moisan: Le Pain au Naturel
5, place d’Aligre
Tél: 01 43 45 46 60

Other locations:
2, rue de Bazelles (5th)
7, rue Bourdaloue (9th)
6, boulevard de Denain (10th)
4, avenue de Général Leclerc (14th)
59, rue Foundry (15th)
74, rue de Lévis (17th)

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  • May 21, 2007 5:49am

    ooh, I’ll have to see if they have this at the Moisan we have in Osaka, it looks really good!

  • Connie
    May 21, 2007 11:29am

    We do not have good bread in Houston and I have been craving a sourdough ficelle any suggestions on a recipe? Those pictures just made it worst.

  • May 21, 2007 1:37pm

    Ah bread. Where would we be without it. Think I’ll go out and find some sourdough ficelle in Chicago. Wish me luck!

  • Kei
    May 21, 2007 1:42pm

    I really enjoy reading your blog! I used to live in Paris and went to culinary school there. One of my favorite boulangeries was Moisan. I miss it so much living in Los Angeles. I also really enjoyed reading about Chef Gille Marchal! I interned with him and his pastries and breads are so delicate and so tasty!

    I noticed you’re making a stop in the West coast for book signings but no plans on coming to LA? I know, LA is not very famous for food as the other areas but you’d be surprised how its changed in the past couple years. Any chance of book signings or visits here?

  • May 21, 2007 3:53pm

    Lucky you munching on this ficelle. To think I did not even buy one while there a few days ago! I had forgotten about them, can you believe? Too busy trying to find other things ;-)

  • May 21, 2007 8:13pm

    Just wanted to let you know I made another of your recipe…thanks!

  • May 22, 2007 5:24pm

    A knife-load of life-changing butter?

    I nearly snorted out my tea in laughter there.

  • May 23, 2007 10:35am

    Oh you are so a man after my own heart. Bread! Salt! Butter!! Pillars of the earth, I tell you.

  • carol
    May 24, 2007 8:34pm

    Ooh, yummy. It’s bread coated with Happy Seeds. I’m ready to bite down on that photo.