The French take their bread very, very seriously. In fact, there are whole sets of laws that govern which type of bread can be called what, and when and how often bakeries can stay open.
One such law in France’s political region of Aube states that bakeries must close at least one day a week – a day of rest.
So when local baker Cedric Vaivre elected to stay open every day of the week in order to make the most out of the busy summer season in 2017, he was hit with a serious fine: €3000, or about $3,700, according to French media.
Now, supporters from his town of Lusigny-sur-Barse are trying to get the fee waived and change the rule, which is referred to as the Prefectural Decree of 15 December 1994 (more generally, the country’s web of persnickety bread rules dates back to the French Revolution).
An online petition to change the rule has more than 2,000 signatures. That’s pretty impressive given that Lusigny-sur-Barse only had about 2,000 residents in 2014.
“To the workers’ inspector and the city government: Help our bakery!” the petition reads. (A workers’ inspector is a labor agency, like OSHA.)
Vaivre told French radio station, RMC, he didn’t agree with the fine and that he just loves his job.
“We’ve got to stop [penalizing] people who work,” he said.
Frederic Amiot, president of the Bakers and Pastrymakers Patron Federation of Aube, defended the law.
“We understand that Mr. Vaivre wants to work more during the tourist season to make ends meet, but this law applies to all of the bakeries,” he told France’s L’est eclair.
The French obviously take work-life balance as seriously as bread. In January 2017, France passed a law that gives workers the right to limit their out-of-office and after-hours correspondence.
The country’s 35-hour work week has been in place since 2000, but various reforms have softened these rules over time and some industries are granted special exceptions.