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Visiting France

Paris's oldest bakery to close

media French baguettes Julie Kertesz/Flickr

Paris’s oldest bakery is to close after 202 years doing business. The owner has decided to throw in the towel after new landlords doubled his rent.

Claude Esnault has run the bakery, in the rue de Richelieu in central Paris between the Comédie Française and the national library, since 1969.

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At the age of 66 he was hoping to sell the business, which sells about 200 baguettes a day, to a younger baker soon but has now had to close it down, a victim of soaring Paris rents and real estate prices.

Two years ago the building that houses the bakery was bought by a company called SNC 5 Versailles, which is part owned by Franco-American actor Christophe Lambert.

Esnault, who employs four people, had been paying 18,000 euros a year in rent but the company told him it wanted to almost double the amount, hiking it to 35,000 euros. 

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SNC 5 Versailles said it wanted to modernise the building, including the installation of a lift, and rent the shop to a high-end patisserie maker.

Esnault, who has negotiated a 310,000 payment to leave, says that there were three bakers, three butchers and two charcutiers in the street when he started working there.

The area has changed partly due to gentrification, it is near the famous Opéra Garnier and the Louvre museum, but is also close to several streets that are now full of sushi restaurants and shops catering for Japanese tourists.

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