So I bought a book: Artisan Breads Every Day by Peter Reinhart.
The first recipe I tried, of course, was the french bread. The first difference is that the dough is less tacky, easier to handle. I made a larger loaf too. G loved this bread. He said it was perfect, except the color looked too dark. Otherwise, it tasted perfect and the shape was really good. In spite of the dark color, it didn't taste burned at all. I think my oven may have been a little too hot. It also cooked in much less time than the recipe indicated. I was glad I checked on it, otherwise, I would've had badly burned bread.
New cookbooks pretty much make my day. So does fresh bread.