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Boulangerie Legrand, Namur, Belgium’s Best Bakery

By alison - August 6, 2013 (Updated: November 18, 2014)

This entry is part 3 of 7 in the series Eat Wallonia.
Boulangerie Legrand, Namur, Belgium

Boulangerie Legrand, Namur, Belgium

Tucked away in central Namur is Wallonia Belgium’s finest bakery. Using only organic ingredients, Boulangerie Legrand makes bread just as they have for the past six generations, with love and passion.

With a bakery on every other corner in even the tiniest villages in Belgium, what makes one stand out more than another? The answer is threefold: hand selected organic ingredients; skills built on tradition, passed from generation to generation and, most of all, the passion to create the perfect loaf of bread. All three of these are present at the Boulangerie Legrand in Namur.

I’ll be honest, when I looked over the schedule for our foodie tour of Wallonia, the one thing that didn’t stand out was the visit to a bakery. After all, I’ve lived in Belgium for 8 years now and I’ve visited many wonderful bakeries in that time. What could be so special about this one?

I was about to find out.

Citadel, Namur, Wallonia, Belgium

The first stop on our Wallonia foodie tour, the citadel city of Namur, Belgium.

We entered the tiny shop and were immediately engulfed in warmth. While some of it was coming from the bread oven out back, most of it emanated from the thousand-watt smile of the baker’s wife, Angela. She greeted us, (and everyone else who set foot in the shop, during our visit) as if we were long-lost friends. Her enthusiasm for the bakery and its products was contagious and we were eager to learn its secrets.

Warm bread and warm smiles, inside the Legrand Bakery.

Warm bread and warm smiles, inside the Legrand Bakery.

We stepped into the small kitchen, where we found the baker, Dominique Legrand. Dominique seemed almost shy in comparison to the effusive Angela, but warmly shook our hands before returning to his bread.

As Dominique went about his work, with the ease of someone who has been baking bread his entire adult life, Angela gave us a tour of the kitchen and their bread-making philosophy.

Baker Dominique Legrand

Dominique the Baker moves so quickly, my camera could hardly keep up. Luckly his fresh baguette stayed still for a photo.

The space is dominated by a huge oven and only one machine, a mixer, into which Dominique pours only organic ingredients: stone milled grains, sea salt from Guérande and natural leavening agents or yeast. The exact combinations are a closely guarded secret, to which not even Angela is privy.

The only machine in Boulangerie Legrand; the giant mixer.

The only machine in Boulangerie Legrand; the giant mixer.

“I am the muse,” she laughed, “not the baker.” With a muse like Angela, it’s easy to see why Dominique’s bread is edible poetry.

Dominique has been baking bread since he was 18, but the history of the Legrand Bakery runs much deeper. Six generations ago, in 1831, Dominique’s ancestors founded Boulangerie Legrand and little has changed since those days.

Dominique and Angela had a mission when they took over the Boulangerie Legrand and moved it to its current location in Namur. Their goal was simply to create the finest breads from the best ingredients they could find. This is the reason people drive all the way from Brussels and even as far as Northern France, just to buy their breads.

As we watched transfixed while Dominique went about his work, Angela asked the question we had been waiting for, “Are you ready to try some bread?”

We stepped back into the shop, where the breads are lovingly displayed and Angela described the ingredients. Some of the grains come from as far away as Egypt and their natural fermentations take anywhere from 18 to 24 hours. These are live breads and we could taste the difference, as the flavours danced on our tongues.

These live breads take 18-24 hours to ferment

These live breads take 18-24 hours to ferment

From deceptively simple baguettes to sweet brioches to rich loaves made of chestnut spelt, it was impossible to choose a favourite. None of us could resist the lure of the dense, nutty breads and we left the shop clutching paper bags of small tasty loaves.

Beautiful breads in the Legrand Bakery

Beautiful breads in the Legrand Bakery

If our first stop on our Wallonia food tour was a bakery this good, we were more than ready to continue the adventure.

To get your hands on the best bread in Belgium, you can visit the Boulangerie Legrand in Namur on Rue Emile Cuvelier, 18 or visit the bio-market on place St. Catherine on Wednesday mornings. You’ll find Legrand Bakery products at the stand of Ignace Sepulchre.

Want to know what my companions thought of Boulangerie Legrand? Read the posts from Sherry and Charlie. Thanks to incredible tour-guide Evelyne and Brussels-Wallonia Tourism for organising our tour. Stay tuned for more Wallonian foodie finds from our day!

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Alison

Alison

Big Cheese at CheeseWeb
Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of Cheeseweb.eu. She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She is currently slow travelling through Europe in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
Alison
@PickledSpruit Thanks! Yes, I love Romanian food too. :) - 3 hours ago

6 comments

  1. Comment by Someone

    Someone August 6, 2013 at 08:48

    I’ve had a good -sour dough I think- baguette from a patisserie near Brussels recently. http://www.patisserie-sasaki.be/

    new google maps:
    http://goo.gl/NbGC6I

    If you haven’t been (I’m sure you have) they have the most wonderful pastries and cakes. That’s the reason I went there , since it was father’s day and needed something special to bring to my parents. I also bought a baguette while there and was pleasantly surprised. It’s the exceptions that make the rule, since in Belgium we often say a bakery known for it’s cakes usually doesn’t have the very best bread and vice versa ( to foreign readers , even the worst bread from the worst bakery will still beat industrial bread by a mile, I’m talking minute details here).

    Worth chucking hubby out of bed at 8 AM on a Sunday morning and leading him out the door at knife point with the instructions not to came back without pastries and bread. Since you live in Brussels it should be very doable for you to get there in a timely manner.

    Regards
    Someone.

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison August 6, 2013 at 11:41

      We haven’t been there but it looks heavenly! I’ll have to add it to our must visit list. Thanks for the great tip 🙂

  2. Comment by Someone

    Someone August 6, 2013 at 10:57

    “Chataigne” it sais on the label of the last picture. Was that bread made with a percentage of chestnut flour ? I’ve never seen that before , must be good if it is.

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison August 6, 2013 at 11:40

      Yes, it was chestnut flour and it was divine. That was one of my favourite breads of the day. It was very dense and delicious.

  3. Comment by Monica

    Monica August 6, 2013 at 11:51

    This place looks absolutely incredible! You can’t beat the smell of freshly baked bread and I love the thought of this bread being edible poetry. Mmm.

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison August 6, 2013 at 12:31

      I agree with you on the smell of fresh bread. And wouldn’t it be great if all art was edible? 🙂

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