The Sixth Arrondissment and the art of the window lick.

Go beyond the glamorous surface

It was in the Sixth Arrondissement that I very nearly became victim to death by chocolate.image

Patrick Rogers main chocolate shop was close by. I was planning on going there next. I wanted some of his lemon-grass and basil infused bars. I’d seen them in the window display. So sleek and shining. Almost sinful. I swear could taste the cocoa and herbs on the base of my tongue. Though the glass.

At the time I’d been ingesting small quantities of high quality chocolate for about three hours.

So I may have been a little delirious. Intoxicated.

It was on a Chocolate Tour with the lovely Alisa and Context Travel. We were a small group. Each intent on learning traditions of chocolate making in Paris. Indulging in some tastings too. Of course.

As we were saying our goodbyes I felt overwhelmed by a sudden wave of nausea. I quickly excused myself. I broke into a profuse sweat. My heart was racing madly. I felt like I might faint. I wanted to lie down. But hey I was in the middle of glamorous St Germaine des Pres. It wouldn’t do. No. Not here.

St Sulpice Church was across the square. I headed there. Thank the gods. It was dimly lit. I lay discreetly in a narrow pew. In that church I actually prayed. Fervently. It was a plea not to die. Not yet.

Not before I made it into Patrick Rogers. Again.image

Eventually the self-inflicted malady did pass. My heart slowed to a more melodic pace. I returned to a normal state.

And I have to say. Now that I’m living on. That it was worth it. Absolutely. There was passion and intensity. Flavour and mastery. Risk and restraint. Each in equal measure in those chocolates.

I’ve eaten chocolate before. Plenty. But nothing quite like these.

We’d talked with some of the artisans creating the exquisite treats. Passionate people. So enthused about what they did to live I’m quite sure they too would risk life for the cause. If necessary.

Of course I’m being a little dramatic. But here’s the point. Behind the glamour there is something else. And it’s s important.

Traditions of mastery. Trails of excellence. Truly deep pleasure.image

So I love the Sixth Arrondissement. Yes. It is very glamorous. Top shelf stuff. The best of the best. I can’t afford most of it.

But that’s not the thing. It’s about setting the bar high. About what can be achieved with effort and skill. And daring to imagine it.

So every visit I walk the rues of the Sixth Arrondissement.

It’s to gasp and wonder and dream. Who doesn’t marvel. Feel inspired. At the perfect curation of the whole area.

At the art in the galleries along rue Bonaparte. The design found up and down rue Jacob. The high-end fashion on Boulevard St Germaine. The beautiful patisseries. The chocolate emporiums. And oh yes the bookshops lining Rue Odeon.

Best of all you get to do as the French do. Some ‘Faire du leche-vitrine’. Translation. Window licking. Otherwise known as widow shopping.

Except here it is considered a worthy past time. What’s not to love about a culture that gets that!

So ladies this is the perfect area to indulge in some serious window  licking.

You will have to nourish yourself at some point. Cue Pierre Herme. image Time then to check out his latest ‘collection’. Yes here is a pastry chef who has seasonal collections. Colour and flavour coordinated cakes. All styled for our viewing and tasting pleasure.

I must have an Ispahan croissant. If you’ve read this blog before you already know why. And then I indulge in a little piece from la collection.

Truly this master has put sex into a pastry. Now that’s an achievement. A very Parisian one at that! 

So yes. You should definitely have that beautiful box of chocolates. Some special linen. Or the scarf. And a cashmere. Lash out on the cloth bound journal. The lithograph you simply can’t leave behind? You should throw guilt aside indulge. A little bit.

Yes I said a little bit. Because we all know this. There are needs that even good shopping and great eating don’t meet. Not even in Paris.

I know you know what I mean.

So allow the desire you experience here to lead you back home. To your own passions. To yourself.

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Maybe like many women you feel like you don’t even know what that is anymore. That’s ok. You are on a journey. That’s partly what all the looking is about. You are searching for clues.

You might choose something new. Completely different. Unknown till now. Or remember a long forgotten love. Take some time to go and look for her. Wait quietly till you recognise her. Then embrace again her lovely lines.

Whatever. Now is the time. To start fresh. To renew.

But be warned. It is a beginning. You’ll need to get some skills. To pursue the thing long enough. Well enough. To chase a level of excellence. It won’t be a simple purchase.

This is how you cultivate a capacity for deep pleasure.

You see there’s something good that happens. Really good. When you decide to do something well. Really really well. Sure there’s that first  hard bit. There might be some uncomfortable or frustrating bits. Participation is definitely required. Effort needs to be invested. Time given over to it.

But it is when the skill and the doing and the dreaming coincide that the magic turns up.

That state is called flow.

It is achieved mainly in these kinds of situations. When these conditions are meet. And the research says that this is how happiness and contentment are cultivated. Or reignited.

So may I suggest that this is what you are seeking. What you are actually looking for. What you need to do. Again. To sparkle again.

It may be that this is what travel is truly about.image

And in the meantime.

There is Paris. And the Sixth Arrondissement.

Oh my goodness. Don’t wait any longer. Some very serious window licking awaits.

 

 

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