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French bakery chain Marie Blachère opens first U.S. location in Great Neck            

Baguettes, available in three degrees of doneness, are

Baguettes, available in three degrees of doneness, are a specialty at Marie Blachère, the French bakery chain that is making its U.S. debut in Great Neck.  Photo Credit: Marie Blachère/Thomas O’Brien

Marie Blachère, a bakery chain with 500 locations in France, is bringing its value-priced baguettes and pastries to Long Island. 

The company’s first U.S. store opens Tuesday, on Middle Neck Road in Great Neck.

The two-story building is a new construction of glass and weathered wood, and its 6,000 square feet  accommodates an open kitchen/bakery and about 40 seats. A rooftop deck opening later this year will add an additional 40 seats.

Christophe Besnard, director of international business development, said that, in France, Marie Blachère occupies a market position between supermarket bakeries and high-end establishments such as Paris-based Maison Kayser, which operates more than 200 bakeries there and, since 2012, 19 in New York City and Washington, D.C.

“Here in America,” he said, “I’d put us somewhere between Kayser and Panera. Our quality is more like Kayser, but the products are less formal and a better value.”

The shop will sell sandwiches, salads and pizzas (most of them, $5 to $7) but its focus is on fresh bread and pastries made on the premises. The signature item is the baguette, which comes in three levels of doneness, from pale, to golden to well done. “The French have this emotional connection to the baguette,” Besnard said. “It’s the first thing a child will buy on its own. And part of the ritual is pointing out exactly which loaf you want.”

Unlike the traditional baguette in France, Marie Blachère’s is made not only with commercial yeast but with a "levain" (a natural leavening “starter,” similar to a sourdough) that has been fermenting since Bernard Blachère opened his first bakery in Provence in 2004.

One Marie Blachère baguette costs $2.20, but, like almost all of the breads and pastry, four can be purchased for the price of three, which brings the price down to $1.65. “Four for the price of three” purchases account for about 80 percent of all sales in France, Besnard said.

Other breads (such as whole wheat, sourdough, multigrain, corn and brioche) range from $5.50 to $8; pastries (croissants, filled croissants, brioche rolls, muffins, brownies, doughnuts and more) range from $2 to $3.30. There are also full-size tarts and cakes ($20 to $30) and individual versions ($6). 

Another boon to bread-bargain hunters: Most items are marked down by 50 percent 30 minutes before the bakery closes.

Marie Blachère plans to open four more U.S. bakeries by 2020. Next month, a second one will open in Greenwich Village at the corner of Avenue of the Americas and Carmine Street.

Marie Blachère is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 550 Middle Neck Rd., 516-487-0864,

marie-blachere.com.

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