For most people travelling to Paris, France the itinerary would include all the iconic sites of Paris; the Eiffel Tower, a walk along the Seine, the Louvre, Notre-Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, a stroll along the Champs Elysees, and the many quaint Parigienne cafes, among others, but for me my trip would not have been complete without a visit to Poilane, the ever so famous panettiere. The window display promised a delicious array of breads to choose from and window shopping the works of art they call bread would have been enough for some.
Those lovely boules that I'd seen many times in books and magazines with the famous P marking were right in front of me not to mention the incredible work of art of grapes and leaves on the boules next to them. I didn't buy one of the boules because they were so large and there was no suitable place to store so much bread at the hotel. Instead I bought smaller buns that the staff assured me was the same recipe and that would sate my craving for a taste of their wonderful bread.
The staff could see my enthusiasm and were only to willing to answer any questions I had for them. As a matter of fact one woman who did not speak English very well went to the back to retrieve a baker with a better command of the English language. So much for all those stories you hear about how rude and aloof the French could be. The people here were just lovely and accommodating as was the case with most of the people I encountered on my travels throughout Paris and the south of France. In one bakery in the south after seeing my enthusiasm about bread baking the owner invited me and a friend to his small kitchen at the back of the store to show us where he made his bread and happily showed me a large pail of preferment in his refrigerator that would make the next day's batch. He removed the lid so that we could smell the most beautiful dough and said "the dough does not smell strong, that is how is should be". I would have gladly showed up the next day to work baking bread with him had he invited me.
I left with a selection of freshly baked breads that I would share with the group of friends I was traveling with. I had come to Paris eager to visit Poilane and the quaint shop and the wonderfully friendly staff there made the experience unforgettable.