More than six billion baguettes are sold every year in France. But the bread is under threat, with bakeries vanishing in rural areas.
PARIS— It is more French than, perhaps, the Eiffel Tower or the Seine. It is carried home by millions each day under arms or strapped to the back of bicycles. It is the baguette, the bread that has set the pace for life in France for decades and has become an essential part of French identity.
On Wednesday, UNESCO, the United Nations heritage agency, named the baguette something worthy of humanity’s preservation, adding it to its exalted “intangible cultural heritage” list.
The decision captured more than the craft knowledge of making bread — it also honored a way of life that the thin crusty loaf has long symbolized and that recent economic upheavals have put under threat. UNESCO’s choice came as boulangeries in rural areas are vanishing, hammered by economic forces like the slow hollowing out of France’s villages, and as the economic crisis gripping Europe has pushed the baguette’s price higher than ever.
“It’s a good news in a complicated environment,” said Dominique Anract, the president of the National Federation of French Bakeries and Patisseries, who led the effort to get the baguette on the UNESCO heritage list.
“When a baby cuts his teeth, his parents give him a stump of baguette to chew off,” Mr. Anract added. “When a child grows up, the first errand he runs on his own is to buy a baguette at the bakery.”
A French delegation celebrated the announcement, delivered on Wednesday in Rabat, Morocco, in classic French style — by waving baguettes and trading “la bise,” the traditional two kisses, one for each cheek.
President Emmanuel Macron of France reacted to the news by describing the baguette on Twitter as “250 grams of magic and perfection in our daily lives.” He attached a famous photo by the French photographer Willy Ronis of a beaming boy running with a baguette, almost as tall as he is, tucked under his arm.
Though just one of many breads that can be found in a typical boulangerie, the baguette is by far the most popular in France. More than six billion are sold every year in the country, according to the federation, for an average price of about 1 euro. (Until 1986, it had a fixed price.)
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