Here is a fascinating account of the quality of bread in France right before the storming of the Bastille. Although this individual had the means to secure himself a decent bit of bread, you can just imagine the horror of those who could not, or if they did, received the worst of the worst.
"The nearer the 14th of July approached," says an eye-witness,' "the more did the dearth increase.
Every baker's shop was surrounded by a crowd, to which bread was distributed with the most grudging economy... This bread was generally blackish, earthy, and bitter, producing inflammation of the throat and pain in the bowels.
I have seen flour of detestable quality at the military school and at other depots. I have seen portions of it yellow in colour, with an offensive smell; some forming blocks so hard that they had to be broken into fragments by repeated blows of a hatchet.
For my own part, wearied with the difficulty of procuring this poor bread, and disgusted with that offered to me at the tables d'hote, I avoided this kind of food altogether. In the evening I went to the Cafe du Caveau, where, fortunately, they were kind enough to reserve for me two of those rolls which are called flutes, and this is the only bread I have eaten for a week at a time."
Galart de Montjoie. ["French Society before the Revolution."] In Histoire de la Révolution de France. S.l.: s.n., 1797. 53, ch. XXIX, quoted in Hippolyte Taine, The French Revolution,(New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1913), 4.