While I am in France, I have devised a morning walk to take the place of my four mile contitutional in Chapel Hill. I walk along Boulevard St. Germain, past Brasserie Lipp, Cafe Flore, and Les Deux Magots, until I come to its end, just across the Seine from Place de la Concorde. Then I turn right and make my way back along the quais, past the Assemble National, the Mint, the Musee D'Orsay, the Academie Francaise, the Louvre [across the river], and Place St. Michel, back to our little apartment. Before returning home, I walk up rue Monge to the Keyser bakery, which is open even at 7 a.m., to get a fresh, warm baguette for breakfast. This delicacy, among the best breads in the world, costs just one Euro 10, roughly $1.40 at today's exchange rate. By way of comparison, a soft, flabby, tasteless Whole Foods knock-off of the French baguette in Chapel Hill costs maybe three times that.
How on earth do they do that? Simple. The state subsidizes the price of bread in France. Why? Well, it all goes back to the French Revolution, when the new government instituted bread subsidies, at a time when bread was a principal part of the diet of the masses.
I realize that I am being hopelessly romantic, but this just seems to me the way a state is supposed to act. What I wouldn't give to be a citizen of a country whose people understood this notion and endorsed it.