Today I woke up with a need for a pain au chocolat that could not be satisfied by any old boulangerie. This was a craving so strong that I apparently felt it was necessary to trek all the way up to Pigalle to the boulangerie that has the best pain au chocolat I’ve found so far in this city. (I walked to cancel out the pastry).
When I got there, however, I was distressed to see an empty tray sitting behind the sign that read “pain au chocolat – 90¢.” Luckily I made it there in time to purchase the last grand pain au chocolat left in the shop. It was massive – probably three times the size of a regular one, but I’d walked all the way to Pigalle for it and was not about to leave empty-handed.
With my monster pastry safely hanging from my arm in a plastic bag, I stepped into a corner of the tiny shop to wait for my sandwich (cheese, chicken and veggies on a 6-grain whole-wheat baguette. Yum…this boulangerie is awesome in so many ways). While I was waiting, I watched probably seven disappointed people come for a pain au chocolat and leave forlornly with nothing.
Apparently I’m not the only one to have discovered this tasty endroit. I was glad to find out that my sense of taste is still leading me true, and I haven’t been swept up in some kind of puppy love with French pastries. After about a week of living here, you discover the startling difference between a boulangerie and a good boulangerie, so I was happy to note that my favorite is also the favorite of quite a few legitimately French people.
When I exited with my sandwich at about 15h, I left a crowd of three young guys who’d ridden up on mopeds and sworn to wait (still in their helmets) until 16h for the new batch of pastries to come out of the ovens.
I think maybe 70 percent of my affection for this place comes from the quality of their truly superior baked goods, and the rest is from just how darn homey this place is. They actually decorated cookies and treats for Halloween, and now the windows are filled with fall-colored leaves and autumn squashes. It helps that the mom-aged woman who runs it is always sporting glasses and an apron tied over a pastel-colored polar fleece jacket. I walk through the door and feel like I’m coming home from school for my afternoon snack. I want to give her a hug when I leave.
Instead I eat my sandwich as I walk, and save my treat to eat with tea back in the kitchen of my apartment. My original intent was to unwrap the pastry and cut it in three parts, to save and enjoy later. I got as far as cutting it into three…but I definitely ate the whole thing. It was so worth the stomach ache.
Add five more berets to the official tally. White seems to be the most popular color, but in the 11 that I’ve counted in the past two days, I’ve observed a wide range of colors. Once I get my camera back, I’ll do some serious beret-stalking.
Picture credit to Luc Viatour.