One of the joys of living in a Swiss French village is that I have three patisserie within easy walking distance.
Open from 06.00, during the winter the patisserie provide islands of light and warmth in the cold of the predawn dark. On spring days like today, they offer a pleasant end to my morning walk.
Each bakery makes everything on site. They offer a dozen different types of bread, some of which are their particular specialities, and croissant and pain au chocolat still warm from the oven.
The Patiserrie are the social heart of the village. Old men come in alone and find themselves surrounded by people they know. Workmen breakfast there in high visibility clothes, their movements large and awkward but their voices politely muted. Groups of women meet there, organized but informal, grabbing some time for themselves between seeing the kids off to school and having them come home for lunch. Older couples sit silently side by side, him reading the paper, her taking pleasure in food and drink that involves no washing up.
I’m one of the digital nomads, earbuds in place listening to my audiobook or thumbs tapping out the emails that rise like starlings at the start of each day. I sit in the same place and my café creme and croissant are brought to me without me having to order.
Today I was picking up things to bring home: pain au lait which are a soft bread, close to English baps, that I will cover with good butter and use as a bun around lightly fried eggs; two pain au chocolat, light and crisp with moist, warm chocolate in the centre, (would you like milk or dark chocolate, Monsieur?) to have with my cafetière of freshly ground coffee; and a Petit Papillon, a dark, crusty, folded bread that goes well will olive oil and chunks of salty Parmesan.
These things are the sunlight in my life. Today, I’m taking the time to savour them.