It may come as a surprise, but all French baguettes are not created equal. I used to think that I could walk into any old boulangerie in Paris and expect to find a delicious picnic-ready baguette every time. After a few months in Paris, and more than a few disappointing experiences, I've learned that you have to a bit more discerning. Not everyone in France knows how to make a good one. But with a little bit of time, research and a willingness to conduct first-hand taste tests, you too can find the perfect long, skinny loaf of white bread.
So, what makes a good baguette? For starters, it has to be crunchy on the outside. Noisy, crackling, hurt-the-roof-of-your-mouth crunchy. The inside should be just the opposite. It should be light and airy. In fact, the best ones don't really have much on the inside at all. It should almost melt in your mouth. There's nothing worse that a heavy baguette with a soft but tough exterior. Berk!
Once you find the perfect baguette, there are a number of different takes on this classic French staple that are worth checking out as well. For example, you might want to try a tradition, ficelle, aux céréales or bio. Some boulangeries also make a mean boule. And while it might take a while to find the perfect baguette, you should never lose hope. France is simply teeming with boulangeries. Keep looking. Your mouth will thank you.