April 9, 2014

Le Fournil d’Antigny-la-Ville

A lot of people have had a lot to say about bread over the years. Rightfully so. Bread is good, and, like beer and champagne, it kind of goes with everything.

In the tiny village of Antigny-la-Ville, about 20 minutes from Beaune, a young baker is doing his best to add his tale to bread folklore. In the middle of “town,” he built a little bread laboratory with a brick oven, and has been churning out organic loaves of brioche and sourdough for three years. 

Brioche (top) and other loaves ready to bake

In three more years, he confides, it will be even better because the oven will be paid off, giving him and his family a little more to live on. He confesses that it has been hard starting out, but he always believed in himself, and believed in his ability to make the project work. His friends from growing up thought him crazy; who was going to buy his organic bread? He explains that, initially, many clients bought almost out of kindness, one of his littlest loaves just so that the poor guy had some income. But now, as dedication and experience have improved his bread (“les clients ont vu que je m’améliore”), they are buying 1 or even 2 kilograms a week. He is quick to point out that, contrary to the local baguette, which is brick-hard within 24 hours, his bread can last a week.

When asked if his neighbors in the village purchase his products, he says no. Complex layers of tradition and loyalty prevent that radical of a move. He laughs a little, and says he never included local purchases in his revenue projections.  

Flour dust before baking
As the oven heats, he drinks Heineken (surely a sign of genius) and offers his thoughts on organic food, poverty, elevated local housing prices, why the Portuguese and Poles are the primary labor force in Swiss vineyards, and the magical powers of travel. If your mind’s eye conjures a baker in small-town France with utopian ideals, your mind’s eye is probably right on. But sometimes the smell of the bread overpowers whatever he is talking about, and you just enjoy it.

The bread is available at three area markets during the week (Saulieu on Saturday, Chagny on Sunday, and Bligny-sur-Ouche on Wednesday), but the freshest and most fun way to enjoy this bread is to place an order a day or two to  before he “attacks the bread” Thursday afternoon. You can pick from standards (sourdough, rye, whole wheat) or just let him make whatever he feels like, a not-too-risky dance with chance. You can then go to his workshop to pick up your loaf, still warm, ready for your love and affection. Spread it with good butter and you may be moved to add your voice to the world of bread literature.

A quick brush of the finished product
What: Bakery
Where: Antigny-la-Ville, Côte d’Or, Burgundy
When: Thursday afternoons
How Much: A small loaf is 3 euros


  1. Hi - We are heading back to Bourgogne in April and I am going through my bookmarks. We miss your blog a lot. Hope everything is OK. Do you know if this bakery is still around??? I really wanted to try to find him. . .

    1. Hi Jennifer-

      I am sure that Jean-Marie and his bakery are still there. Go see him, and tell him I say hello. You can contact me directly for ideas about what to do/see in Burgundy: http://frenchorbit.blogspot.com/p/about.html