The One about Vie de France

If you go to Japan, there is one thing you will notice… There are a lot of bakeries with French names.

One of the popular bakeries is Vie de France and despite the logo and the many awesome food that you will find in this bakery, it’s not owned by a company in France but owned by Japan’s largest baking corporation, Yamazaki Seipan Kabushiki-gaisha.  A company that has been around since 1948.

But the bakery’s origins did not start in Japan.

According to the English website of Vie de France:

The story of Vie de France began in 1971. At that time, four people, discussing the need for quality European breads in America, committed themselves to the business of making authentic French bread. Soon they discovered what countless others before them had discovered: domestic flours and conventional baking methods could not duplicate the French product.

Determined to succeed, they recruited master French bakers, laboratory analysts and technical staff. An extensive research and development process ultimately identified the proprietary Vie de France formula for flour.

Creating the perfect formula for flour was not enough. The founders of Vie de France also imported the bricks necessary to build the ovens that would recreate the heat and humidity levels essential to turning out the golden color, perfectly crisp crust and inner texture that characterized authentic French breads. Additionally, they trained their bakers in the tradition and science of French bread baking. Vie de France began producing croissants in mid-1983. Today, the croissant is perhaps our best known and loved product.

 And as for the Japanese connection, the English website mentions:

On June 27, 1991, a milestone in Vie de France history was achieved when Yamazaki Baking Company, Ltd. of Tokyo purchased the Vie de France Bakery division. Later, on May 27, 1994, Yamazaki Baking also purchased the Vie de France Restaurant division and formed what is today – Vie de France Yamazaki, Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Yamazaki Baking Company, Ltd. of Tokyo.

Our parent company, Yamazaki Baking, is one of Japan’s largest baking companies with 22 manufacturing facilities throughout Japan. Yamazaki has been involved in the bread baking business since 1948. Today, our parent company employs nearly 20,000 people in Japan. These employees are critical to the daily production of a variety of products including croissants, French breads, white breads, pastries and snack foods.

Each time I go to Japan, I always see many Japanese and also foreigners at Vie de France or even carrying food from the bakery with them while riding on the train.

It’s a place I often frequent to pick up a few sandwiches for breakfast or whenever I need something quick while traveling Japan.

And I absolutely love visiting this place while I’m in Japan.  And I really like how they offer different products each month.  And I also like how this bakery offers the kcal (technically, a kilocalorie is 1000 calories but the American “calorie” is synonymous with the kilocalorie included on European labels, so 1 small kcal is = to 1 large food Cal., so 360 kcal is 360 Calories) for each of their pastries.  You can view the kcal on the Japanese website.

And really, you can find a Vie de France all over Tokyo.  In the US, there are Vie de France bakery and fast and fresh locations in Maryland but its bakery-cafe locations are in Costa Mesa, California and Washington DC.

I haven’t visited and of the Vie de France US locations yet but I would like to see how things are compared to its Japanese counterpart.

But for those going to Japan and want a break from the convenience stores, definitely give Vie de France a try!


Dennis A. Amith