La Boulangerie par Veronique Mauclerc

I’d like to introduce you to someone you may not have heard of: Véronique Mauclerc. But I hope on your next visit to Paris, or if you live here, you’ll make the trip to see her gorgeous and very special bakery.

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Early each morning at Véronique’s boulangerie in the 19th arrondissement, the bleary bakers start mixing the organic flour at 2am after torching-up the wood-fired oven, only one of four in Paris (and there’s only two people that know how to fix it in the city.) So if you’re wondering what you’re doing in the middle of nowhere, it’s because an oven this special just can’t be moved.

And what a magnificent oven it is! As the morning continues, and perhaps the coffee kicks in, the bakers start adding wood until the temperature of the oven’s just right for baking bread, 275C (about 530F). Then each hand-shaped loaf is baked off to crackly-crusty perfection.

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Her incredibly beautiful oven can hold up to 100 loaves at a time, but you’d never know she could reach such capacity when you see the small, carefully-crafted loaves of bread on display in the bakery, which is listed as a historic monument in Paris.


Véronique told me it’s extremely rare for a woman to be a boulanger. So much so that there doesn’t seem to be a feminine word for ‘boulanger’ in the French language. (Hey, let’s start one…how about it, France…boulangesse?…boulangeuse?)

Véronique trained at the École Supérieure de Cuisine Français in Paris before opening her bakery two years ago. And even though she’s been open a pretty short time, she won kudos from the Pudlo guide to Paris, which named her bakery the Boulangerie de l’Année for 2007, the best baker of the year in Paris, which is quite a feat in a city where there’s a heckuva lot of bakeries.

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All Véronique’s bread and pastries are made with organic flour and none of her breads have yeast. Instead, she prefers to use levain, a natural sourdough starter, and most of the breads get two rises. The first is given a rest of 1½ hours, then the second takes up to 15 hours. In the tiny kitchen, she and her four bakers work at all hours to ramp up production. On weekends they go all-out, to triple production, to supply some of the organic markets of Paris.

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If you stop in her bakery, you’re likely to see Véronique herself tending the ovens, mixing up flour and shaping one of the beautiful loaves that she’ll later pull out of her oven—crackly-hot on the outside, with the hearty, earthy taste of naturally-leavened bread.

Is she’s not worthy of cult-status, I don’t know who else in Paris is.

La Boulangerie par Véronique Mauclerc
83, rue de Crimée (19th)
Tél: 01 42 40 64 55

Update: 10/08, A new location in Paris: 11, rue Poncelet (17th)

27 comments

  • Hey David, sounds great, should of stopped by and visited while I was in Europe this last august!
    I also visited some bakeries and even a grain mill too in Switzerland!!!

    Jeremy

  • Oh those PICTURES. Man, I need a French bread fix like nobody’s business.
    Thanks for the address, I’ll keep it as a “must go” for next time.
    I’ve visited the basement of the Poilane bakery in the 6th, which also has a wood oven, and WOW does it ever get hot down there!
    By the way, is that a pain aux raisins with pistachio?? Yum…

  • there is a femenine word for boulanger. It’s boulangère.

  • oh, and I’ll be in Paris for a week, getting there on the 23rd, and I have friends in the 19th so I’ll check it out. I’m taking a pastry making class at Lenôtre, going to learn how to make croissants and pains au chocolat… Sooooo psyched!

  • that bread looks superb, even by high Parisian standards. kudos to la boulangere,

  • That sounds absolutely magnificent. Next time I’m in Paris… well I’ll be seeking you out anyway, but… I’ll definitely go visit this bakery. Also, I must show this posting to a friend that opened up her own bakery here in Marin, where she makes only organic breads and lavosh using levain and no yeast (www.rusticbakery.com). She’ll appreciate this!

  • Seyo is right; the feminine is boulangere. I wonder if the fact is that the term is just not used that often; for example, while pharmacienne is the feminine for pharmacien, it is not used as often.
    This might be similar to the case in the US where the usage of feminine terms for professions (i.e., actress is used less and less to refer to female actors, you never here the term poetess to refer to a female poet, etc.).

    Anyhow, those breads look delicious!

  • I honestly dont know what the big deal is. The word is used all the time. And there are plenty of women bakers in France. Pharmacienne is used as often as you see a female working in a pharmacy, which is plenty often as well. It’s really a non issue.

  • I wanted to go there when Izzy and I were in Paris but we didn’t have a chance. If I am not mistaken, I thought La Boulangere was the baker’s wife, non?

    p.s. I made a version of your frozen yogurt… Delicieux!

  • I just folded down the page in my Pudlo guide. One more place to add to my extensive list titled “David Lebovitz”. I have to go find the street of Mini Me’s too.

    Every time I think of that it makes me laugh. Very funny. :-)

  • I’ll pass on the word to my French friend that was at the bakery with me; she was the one who told me there wasn’t a feminine word in French for female bread-baker. Véronique told me there were only two women bread-makers in Paris so perhaps it’s not a well-used word.

  • so where are the other three wood-fired ovens in Paris?

  • Wow – thanks for sharing. Her bakery goods do look delicious and it’s interesting to know she doesn’t use yeast.

  • Boulangère does exist, it is the feminine for boulanger, although it usually is used to refer to the boulanger’s wife, who sells the produce of her husband’s work…

    In French, feminine names for jobs traditionally held by men usually refer to the wife : the “générale” is the general’s wife for example. Job names are often masculine, army ranks, civil service jobs. Except for institutrice/instituteur (schoolteachers) and infirmière/infirmier (nurses).

    Funnily enough, when a few years back a man become “sage-femme” (wise-woman, those who assist OBGYN in delivering babies and help countless women give birth), there was a debate as to what to call him, since there is no male name for this job ! One had to be “invented” : maieuticien, from a Greek word.

    But since we have proved that we can hold most jobs just as well as men, I don’t see why boulangère could not be used for a woman making bread.

    Now it’s too bad I don’t live in Paris anymore, I would have loved tasting that bread…

  • Sylvie: The only thing is, what does one call the male husband of a female bread-baker? ; )

  • Next trip, whenever that might be!

  • Boulangere sounds right to me. What sounds more right is that she’s using organic flour and going to the extra trouble of levain instead of commercial yeast. Bravo. I can taste her bread in your description, David. I know it already.

    Sounds like she’s working her ass off too.

    Ramon.

  • yum. any idea which markets she graces with her bread? Batignolles I hope?? or perhaps Raspail?

  • David, that’s a good one ! I heard that a woman just got promoted to Colonel in the Gendarmerie, the first one in France. So she will be Madame le Colonel, as opposed to La Colonel, wife to a male colonel.

    Maybe the husband of a boulangère could be Monsieur la boulangère !

  • I’m here in Paris (having trouble with the azerty keyboard), I’m going to check out the bakery tomorrow

  • hello
    i m french, the french feminine word for “un boulanger” is “une boulangère”.
    bye bye
    x

  • went to her bakery today and btw my husband and i, we had a brownie, croissant and that spiral looking thing with green topping (sorry, don’t know what it’s called. i just eat!)

    indeed, her pastries are very cripsy and yummy. the green thing was a little sweet though. my husband had the brownie and he said that while it didn’t look like it, it was rich with chocolate (though a little dry). i love the simple croissant!

    i had actually wanted to buy a loaf of bread, but she seemed like in a super bad mood, and made me feel very uncomfortable when i was browsing. gave me the feeling she wanted us out of her shop. she must have had a bad day!

  • David,

    I was searching your site to find a “top 10″ or “must see” list of bakeries in Paris but could not find it. I know Poilane and Kaiser, found a few more in your articles – could you be so kind and list your favourites, so that I could visit and enjoy them on my forthcoming visits to Paris in October and November.

    Thanks,
    Matevz

  • Check out my post: 10 Insanely Delicious Things You Shouldn’t Miss in Paris, as well as Paris Favorites for hotspots from other Paris food friends.

  • I was so happy to discover that I’m only a 20-minute walk from this amazing boulangerie! It’s perfect-I can walk there, savor a pastry, and then walk back and not feel as guilty :) The coffee eclairs are out of this world!!

  • I’ll be in Paris very briefly in March and definitely want to visit this bakery. Do you know what time it is open in the morning? I am also planning my 3(maybe 4) meals around your recommendations

  • Andrea: I don’t know but there is a number to call and ask about opening times. Enjoy!