The Banquet of Bread – portraits of artisanal bakers in Paris 

The Banquet of Bread – portraits of artisanal bakers in Paris.

Bread is the ‘staff of life’ – or as some say, the ‘stuff of life’ – everywhere in the world. Bread and its bakers sustain life – le pain et ses boulangers soutiennent la vie

There are many references to bread in James Joyce’s novels on life in Dublin in the early 20th century – with much of his writing undertaken during his 20 years residing in Paris, where his lived on plain bread when he was poor, and bread with wine when he had money. 

Many of Joyce’s references are related to bread broken as a religious ritual, and common idioms, such as:

‘bread, the staff of life, earn your bread’ and ‘he knows which side his bread is buttered.’

There are references to: bread, butter and honey; thick slices of bread impaled on his knife; bread to sop up gravy; unleavened shewbread; bread of angels; brawn and bread; bread and onions; fried bread; brown bread with golden syrup; and pellets of new bread with fennygreek and gumbenjamin swamped down by potions of green tea. Bread was indeed the staff of his life.

The town hall of the 14th arrondissement is presenting an exhibition on its fence grilles called “Portraits de boulangers quatorziens” – Portraits of the Bakers of the 14th – i.e. portraits of artisanal bakers of the 14th arrondissement of Paris. The exhibition, from 6-20 March 2023, celebrates its local bakers and is a precursor to the popular annual event in October called Le Banquet des Pains – The Banquet of Bread.

Photoclub Paris-Val-de-Bièvre took the photographs of the bakers in their own bakeries. The photos were taken in conjunction with the associations, Graine de Quatorzien and Florimont, to celebrate the essential contribution of bakers and bakeries in our daily lives. 

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