What is now called “Patisserie Poncet” was some years ago the “Tarte Tempion”. It is a really nice spot for a bakery and pastry business. As the streets cross in a narrow angle, the windows of the shop give directly over the triangular place with benches and tree shadows. Besides the cake and the coffee, they also sell their own chocolate. And ice-cream in spring and summer. A sweet spot.

When it was still called “Tarte Tempion” and I was still dating my wife, we would go there to have late breakfasts on Sunday mornings. The owner, Mr. Tempion, and his wife, would would be all smiles and call everybody in the neighborhood by their names. They would also distribute a small amount of amusing small talk, sufficient for each one to feel part of this small society without embarrassing anyone. This elegance was somewhat natural to Mr. Tempion, who would always come to his shop with a tie and a jacket.

One day, in a trip to a city far in the south of the country, someone said to me: “Imagine that Mr. Tartempion does this, or that he does that”. I looked at him puzzled, wondering how he knew the place. He laughingly explained to me that “Mr. Tartempion” is an old French expression for “Mr. Regular” or “Mr. Everybody”. From that day on, I always went to buy my bread with a smile on my lips. That elegant, serious guy did have a good sense of humor, as “Tempion” was really his family name. As foreigners, we just did not notice that small note of humor that certainly did not escape any of his other French customers.

The Tempions sold the business to the current owners when they reached their retirement age. I did not see them since, but before they left they seemed to be very happy to leave behind a very hard working routine. In the months before passing on the business, Mr. Tempion abandoned the tie and the jacket (although not the long sleeve, formal shirts) and opened larger and larger smiles.

I am happy he took the name of the place with him, as it's spirit has changed a bit. But mainly, it allows us to tell the passing friend how good and fun were the old times in France, when our baker used to work with a jacket and a tie.

Post a Comment