When we first moved to France bread makers had been available in England for a very short period of time. We'd seen them in America and tasted the delights but had not met anyone in Europe who owned one. Then one day I found one in a computer shop on one of our trips to England - it must have been an electrical store I suppose but I was in there because of the computer! It was a Panasonic and must have been mark one because a friend of mine has one that is very similar but with an option for crusty crust etc. I bought it proudly back to France and all our French friends laughed at me. Well, they would - the entire French population knows two things about England: it rains non-stop and the bread tastes like cardboard or cotton wool depending on how stale it is. I was nervous to say the least but fortunately had had the sense to bring back instant yeast as the French only had fresh yeast and after a few experiments - only one was inedible - I was confident enough to try it on our French friends. The joke was on them (finally!). They wanted to know where I'd bought this fantastic bread. Which bakery had I, an English woman, found which they did not know about. (The French will drive miles to buy good bread when the village bakery is not up to par.)
I still have my breadmaker and after twelve years service it is just as good as ever. I don't know precisely how the price of "my" bread compares to the baguette in the shop but it is cheaper. And anyway, it means that I don't have to go to our local bakery (7kms each way) each day (and no, frozen baguettes are not that great if kept in the freezer for more than 24 hours). Our efforts at self-sufficiency are not able to extend to growing wheat - we don't have the land for one thing! - so I will always have to buy the flour.
During this past week one of my oldest friends has been to stay with two of her three young daughters. We had a lot of catching up to do and with the wonderful weather we were fortunate enough to have, were very happy to do most of the catching up in the garden or the house - not the supermarket! The breadmaker was on twice a day with rolls for lunch (Mary Berry's recipe) and a brown grain bread for supper. Wonderful!