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Is Paris Facing a Summer Bread Shortage?

Parisian bakers are on vacation and everyone is freaking out.

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Flickr/Christof Derdorfer
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

Parisian bread may be in short supply this summer thanks to loosened regulations in the French capital. For the first time since the French Revolution, Parisian bakers are allowed to take vacations whenever they want, according to The Daily Mail. The regulation changes are part of an overall effort by the French government to liberalize markets. The rule on bakery vacations was initially enacted in 1790 by the state to prevent food shortages and ensure citizens had a continuous supply of bread, writes Quartz. The laws were then updated in 1995 and required that Parisian bakeries stagger their closings with half remaining open in July and the other half in August. Bakeries that closed early faced fines.

"You've got to feed the Parisians."

No official numbers are available, but many Parisians are noticing that that favorite bakeries are shuttered, making for some very annoyed customers. Parisian artist Anthony Stephinson recounts his frustrating experiences to The Telegraph. "Our local boulangerie, formally known as simply 'Artisan Boulangerie' changed its name to 'Utopie', then went on holiday," he says. "So, we've taken to buying those strange half-cooked mini baguettes from my local supermarket and putting them in the oven."

One bakery owner in Montmartre tells Quartz that she's staying open during the vacation period because making bread is "a service." She adds, "You've got to feed the Parisians." Still, she admits the added demand on her product has been challenging for her and her staff. Last weekend "we ran out of bread, there's nothing I could do about it. But people don't understand. People have this idea that we make bread in five minutes," she says.

Despite widespread public criticism, many bakers are happy with the new arrangement. In an interview with CNBC, bakery owner Morgan Marie says that being required to stay open in August was bad for business because "nearly all of my clients are on holiday." With fewer restrictions she actually reduces operating costs. "It's not that bad if clients have to walk a little longer for a few weeks to find bread."

Meanwhile in the U.S. business and consumers are dealing with a major egg shortage resulting from an outbreak of avian influenza. Countries like Spain, Australia, and Venezuela are also in crisis mode thanks to rampant shortages of items like olive oil, beer, and, most importantly, Vegemite. The end is nigh.