Butter a 9 inch baking dish. Cut 6 slices of the brioche about 1/2 inch thick. Cut the rest into 1 inch cubes. Place the cubes in the baking dish.
Using a star shaped cookie cutter, cut out stars (or any shape) from the 6 slices of bread. Place them on top of the cubes in the dish.
In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix together the milk, eggs, vanilla & salt.
Pour the custard mixture over the brioche, pressing down gently so all the bread absorbs the liquid. Cover & refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees F, with a rack in the middle position.
Sprinkle the top of the french toast casserole with the granulated sugar. Bake until golden, about 35 minutes.
Halve the vanilla bean lengthwise & scrape out the seeds using a small knife. Discard the pod.
In a small saucepan, bring the water, sugar & vanilla seeds to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is syrupy. Cool slightly.
Serve the French Toast warm, topped with fresh berries & vanilla syrup.
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