After running the oldest bakery in Paris, he returns to the lands of his ancestors in Calvados

After running the oldest bakery in Paris, he returns to the lands of his ancestors in Calvados

Claude Esnault published “Black Bread, White Bread, or Memoirs of a Baker” in 2010. ©Isabelle Innocenti

It’s an amazing course. Claude Esnault was born in Seven brothers (Calvados) in 1945. He grew up on a small farm, “where they rented me out when I finished school at 13,” he says.

The little boy has no choice. He must become a farmer. He participates in spite of himself housework. He must not be reluctant to work in the countryside at this time. “But I was in a bad mood,” he says. Thanks to this bad characterit will only take him 6 months to escape the fields and find work as a baker’s apprentice in Beny-Bocage.

“He told me it was for you”

So at the age of 17 he left Hedge for Paris with the firm intention of never returning. We are in 1963, he goes door to door and very quickly finds a job ua dealer. After the army and several employers, Claude Esnault follows the advice of his last boss, who made him the leader of a team of 15 employees. “I saw a small shop closed in the rue de Richelieu. We went there together and he told me it was for you.

In the late 1950s, Claude Hesnault trained in Beny-Bocage.  The beginning of a new life.
In the late 1950s, Claude Hesnault trained in Beny-Bocage. The beginning of a new life. © Claude Hesnault

30,000 buns per day

Bocain Rise to the challenge. With the help of his wife, he restarts this old bakery. They will work there for more than 43 years. “Au grand Richelieu” is bakery pastry who knows tremendous activity. Close to many important Parisian companies and institutions: National LibraryE, royal palace, Halls sales are also growing rapidly. Claude Esnault remembers starting from scratch and especially making his day 30,000 buns for deliveries to La only Bank of France. Every day, loyal customers come for their bread, “but with tourists, my clientele has been renewed 80% every day.”

The first croissant in Paris

Claude Esnault’s piercing blue gaze reveals his lively spirit and his never-satisfied curiosity. That’s why he started researching the creature croissants. He eventually discovers that his shop is the ancestor of the Parisian bakeries. it is in 1810 his door opened for the first time.

On the other hand, this is not where we made our first croissant in Paris. It’s on the same street but at number 99 and I was at number 51″.

Book in French and English

The years passed without tiring the baker. In 2010 he started writing his memoirs. More precisely, he vocally records his memories year after year. A book is coming out. The information reaches the ears of journalist Jean-Pierre Pernaut. The man who runs the oldest bakery in Paris has also written a book! Claude Esnault has the honor from 1 p.m.. Then other national media. With a big smile, he says that sales of his book have skyrocketed, from 200 copies to 1,000 plus the English version. Great memory!

A certain Christophe Lambert

The list of memories is long. In 2012 for sure Christopher Lambert push the shop door open. The actor wants buy the whole building where is the shop. He meets with Claude Esnault to negotiate the purchase of the store. The case ends very quickly. Claude Esnault closes the bakery permanently as a Chinese restaurant replaces it.

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The “famous” baker, who promised himself not to return to Bocage, has since changed his plans. In 2015, he put his suitcases away for good in an old renovated barn family farm. And don’t hide the good feeling about it. They even go to a small village bakery to buy bread. Baguette without seeds.

A little boy hired out to farmers has disappeared. He gave way to a businessman. Claude Esnault escaped poverty and benefited his loved ones, including his mother, or even the many homeless people, to whom he says he gave sandwiches every day for years.

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