A Melbournian who wonders as I wander. I have spent a lot of life colouring in moments and take great pleasure in creative expression of experience. Interested in Design, Art, Film, Photography, Painting and all things French.
Published July 1st 2018
Paris Dreams in Melbourne Chill
When I go out the front door on any given Saturday or Sunday, I only really have one desire in my heart - that is to walk to Paris. I'm generally quite an optimistic walker. I see a sign with a destination I like the name of and I think yeah, I'll get there eventually.
This has taken me from Kalorama to Sth Yarra at one point from Frankston to Portsea at another, but I'm not much of a swimmer to cross the Ocean on a quest. Today, I think I just about managed it because to visit the South Melbourne Market is as close to Europe in Melbourne as you can get.
The journey always feels sunny, even when the weather is frigid. There is a quiet peace until you reach Clarendon St, when the answer to where everyone is becomes clear. I don't see their faces as I duck and weave on a mission, just one clear dream in my head. I skim past the cafes and the muddle to join the worming line stretching out beforeAgathe, a little pastry shop on the top most wall beyondHappy Place by Lola Berryand before Joy Cupcakes.
Rustic Laneway South Melbourne
I usually pause in my beeline at that point, the buzz in my bonnet quieting to a gentle hum, allowing me to hear my conflicted thoughts. You know all those important ones any sane person must drown - about how croissants don't really fit with the detox diet I could have sworn I committed myself to at 3am.
Watching the beautiful process of croissant shaping soon lulls indecision. I spent over two years trying to master this art and I often let others keep filing past my place in line to be hypnotised by the process. The smell is intense and impatience fades - surely like in coffee there are antioxidants in the smell.
I keep my eye on the ovens, lingering for the possibility of a purchase as close to piping hot as possible. Everything here is so delicious, there are too many possibilities. Conceptions of budgeting, practicality, of still needing to afford fruit and vegetables… actual food! - all these mist and I am sure my eyes look glazed.
Today, I felt I should at least avoid sweet. I spied a baker's armful of piping hot baguettes being bundled over to the counter, A thrill shot to my heart. I have two gleaming memories of Paris that are as warm as if they were yesterday.
Ducking out of a rainstorm to buy a baguette and finding it was hot as to toast in my goose-pimpled arms as I made my way through an Impressionist blur of streets to a blue door and spiral stair to our accommodation. The other is standing outside a hole in the wall in a back street spinning in the taste sensation of a piping Portuguese tart.
Agathe captured the Portuguese tart experience for me the day I first tried their Custard Heart and later Custard Flan straight from the oven. Generally, sweet temptations distract me from breadsticks. I had formulated a theory that Australian air did something to the ingredients and it was scientifically impossible to find an authentic French baguette experience outside of France with the exception of an acceptable interpretation at 'France Soir' in Toorak Rd or Entrêcote in Domain Rd.
Letting go of all qualms about what the use of a whole breadstick was for one person I asked for one, inwardly plotting justifications of the all the far too distant people I could share it with. I clutched the glowing brown paper bag in my white fingers, it took the edge off Melbourne winter ice.
The mingling crowd always then carries me like a river inside the door of Padre coffee where today a skinny chai latte made the perfect creamy honey dip for the miracle of an actual Parisienne baguette. Savouring a taste, I still kept blinking at in wonderment.
European soft ambiance
A treat like this needs a long walk to Flinders street station to recover equilibrium. It is like you have entered a surrealist painting and the Parisienne sheen on the Melbourne landscape becomes more vibrant.
As I looked at the fountains outside the National Gallery, they shimmered with a glare of cold sun into the fountains I photographed once at the Louvre. The Sunday Design Market was flavoured with the atmosphere of the Art Markets along the Seine. Perhaps the souvenirs of Australian wildlife were being exhibited there. Thanks to Agathe, as a Loyal Melburnian and devoted Francophile, I can taste the best of both worlds.