I'm not ashamed to say that I picked up the trick of making a crusty bread from watching MasterChef: ice cubes in the bottom of a very hot oven (well, on a baking sheet--don't want to break the oven, after all). But baking is a fickle science--oven temperatures are rarely exact, and the conditions in your little home oven, unless you happen to have a professional oven, can hardly hope to duplicate those in a professional oven. White flour in the US is different from that in Europe--in the US, it's mostly hard wheat, while European flours are a mix of soft and hard. This affects the gluten development, and you have to pay attention to the texture of the dough to make sure it's not overkneaded.
Kneading is another thing that I've re-learned: it's not a constant working of the dough for 5-10 minutes at the beginning, it's stretching the dough five or six times, and then letting it rest for about 20 minutes before punching it down and stretching it again. Done 3 or 4 times over the course of an hour, and it yields a soft, malleable dough. The second proofing involves no punching down, but instead a gentle shaping of the loaf and then setting it down on the baking sheet. .
One thing I haven't procured yet is a baking stone--a pizza stone will do, although I've aso learned that a terra cotta saucer, something you put under a terra cotta flower pot, will do the trick just as well (in the second volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child recommends a red tile). This needs to sit in a hot oven (250° C, 450° F) for at least an hour to heat thoroughly. The proofed bread goes onto the hot tile, giving you that lovely bottom crust (which I haven't quite achieved yet).
You can find the basic directions that I used in the recipe here. I made this loaf with white flour--it was an accompaniment to a soup, so I didn't want too many flavors duking it out. And yes, it was every bit as glorious as it looks.