Breakfast at Le Bon Marché

Saturday morning I went out in search of an almond croissant. I had a specific patisserie in mind where  I had read some of the best almond croissants are sold. However, after that first bakery in my neighborhood was either sold out or stopped carrying all almond croissants, I then made a long journey to three other bakeries to realize les croissants aux amandes are maybe less popular than I expected. (Traditionally almond croissants were a way of salvaging “old” croissants that weren’t sold the day before. Is there an inverse relation between the inventory of almond croissants and the quality and popularity of that bakery’s croissants?)

But after crossing a few neighborhoods I finally gave up and settled on a pain au chocolat at the fourth patisserie. At least it was one of the patisseries that’s on my list of Parisian cafes, patisseries and restaurants, so it wasn’t a total waste of time. After paying for my pastry and exiting the bakery, I ran into a problem that often arises in Paris during lunch time, at least for me anyway,: I’ve bought my pastry à emporter (to-go), now where do I go to eat it?

Usually I choose to sit in a garden, on the steps of a museum or return to my apartment. There really isn’t any other option. But today I was too far from my apartment and it was raining. I thought about standing under the covered outdoor entrance at Le Bon Marche (think Barney’s NYC) but knew I would get stared down for devouring a croissant while standing and in public. Or worse, be told that I’m in the way (a.k.a. spoiling the facade of the building and ruining it’s elegance).The second best option was just to take cover under the store’s awning that stretched along all four sides of the building.

I began to walk slowly down the sidewalk, tearing pieces of of my pain au chocolat and admiring les vitrines (the store windows) where on display were some of the store’s products: black leather gloves, Chanel bags and shoes, jewelery, etc. It took me about a minute to realize that I had accidentally, (serendipitously) stumbled into a reenactment of the opening scene of Breakfast At Tiffany’s. All I needed to complete the scene was a black dress, black gloves and a pearl necklace.

I do however need to figure out a way to sort out this “lunch dilema”. The most economic and time efficient lunches are those in which you can just pick something up (whether it’s a sandwich, something from the grocery store or, as I often do, choosing a pastry from one of the best patisseries in town) and eat it “at the office”. Except i have no office and my lunch hours usually falls in between when I have classes. If eating in museums were normal I would probably do that. But alas, I think that would not only warrant a few stares but would probably also solicite one or two quick blows from the guard’s whistle, as I’ve often witness happen when some tourist is violating an establishment’s rules.