One of the most memorable images I have of Paris is one with a baguette. From my hotel window I saw a man in a blue chapeau with a plaid scarf wrapped around his neck carrying a long baguette leaving the bakery across the way. There was something romantic about securing a freshly baked loaf of bread, and even more when I realized it was my husband.
Diagonally across from the Northern Hotel in Billings is Le Fournil, the new artisan bakery opened by Francois Morin. Morin said, “I married a girl from Montana 25 years ago and this is why we decided to come back here.” The want to be near parents is giving Morin a chance to realize his dream. Morin met his wife in Paris to later raise their three children there. His work in Information Technology led him to South Africa and then to Singapore.
In Singapore he apprenticed under a baker and learned to make artisan bread. In fact, the starter he uses for his bread is brought from there. Morin has made the appropriate adjustments for baking bread from a hot and humid environment to one that is much drier and fluctuates from cold to hot temperatures.
Le Fournil, which is the French word for “bakehouse” opens from Tuesdays to Fridays with two sets of hours each day, from 11 to 2 and then from 4 to 6. He closes to allow for baking a second set of bread. For now, Morin sells a traditional and sourdough baguette and a country loaf. With time he will access the demands of his customers. In the New Year, he hopes to pursue making pastries such as croissants and pain au chocolat.
Le Fournil is fueled by passion as Morin realizes the process takes much skill and patience. The kneading, rising and forming of the bread requires time and cannot be hurried.
Though Le Fournil has only been opened for a little over a week, we can now do as the French do and carry a freshly baked baguette into our daily lives. Now that’s romantic.