This was the second time I have made Pain a l'Ancienne and this time I think I hit it right. After removing the dough from the refridgerator, I let it warm/rise for an additional 30 minutes, for a total of 3 1/2 hours.
And oven time, I've learned is critical to the characteristics of the crust. One batch was pulled from the oven just as the dough's internal temp hit 205. It had a very thin but crunchy crust - exactly the way I like it. The second batch was left in the oven until the dough's internal temp was about 210-213. The crust was noticably thicker. (maybe this is a clue to my crust problems with the pullman loaf.)
As you can see, the extra 30 minutes rise time allowed a beautiful whole structure to form.