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St. Louis Throw
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“Don’t let all the glitter and velvet fool you.”

Zidler, Moulin Rouge

Visiting Paris, the land of laminated dough, this month made my thoughts trail back to the beginning of the pandemic. In 2020, during a trip to Venice Beach before the world changed, I watched pastry chefs at 5am through the window of Gjusta on Sunset Avenue make morning goods whilst I stood outside, jet-lagged and salivating. Chefs are a friendly bunch, and they didn’t seem to mind my presumptuous peeping at their patisserie performance.

It was a titillating theatre of the conception of confection. But it was so much more than that. It was a window into the hard work, commitment, dedication, and sacrifice that it takes to create a product and see it flourish into something worth savouring.

It’s one thing to start a business, it’s another to lead it, to develop its potential. There are late nights, early mornings, and everything in between, there’s cradling and coaxing, and periods of questioning that you hope your conviction will overcome.

During my trip to Paris, I visited some favourite old haunts, and discovered new ones, all run by dedicated and passionate individuals, each artists in their own right, working hard for success that is not guaranteed. I’ve listed a few below:

  • ~ La Trésorerie, not far from République, where I treated myself to a beautiful new jug (it’s glass, I’m into transparency at the moment);
  • ~ Union boulangerie, a “rough luxe” bakery on Rue Bleue for the best pain au chocolat, eaten gazing wistfully into shop windows (I wish I could say as elegantly as Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but we all know the reality is flaky pastry adorned my hair and my outfit became crumb-clad);
  • ~ À la Mère de Famille, a swoonsome family-run chocolatier, established in 1761, and still delivering sugar rushes to make you giddy. It’s hard to choose, but their Orangettes are a particular favourite;
  • ~ Ausmane, a boutique perfumery in the arcades where I discovered an intoxicating new scent;
  • ~ La Grand Crèmerie in Saint Germain for further intoxication of a different kind (I can thoroughly recommend the biodynamic Mentou-Salon 2020, Domaine Philippe Gilbert, followed by a nectarous Vouvray!) over Steak Tartare with beef from Polmard butchers

The unleavened croissant will never rise, but the ones nurtured and lovingly invested in will become fully fledged crescents of glory. I hope the hard work continues to turn to triumph for all these lovely little businesses, because I know the challenges they face.