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Apr 29, 2019 22:56:30

Boulangerie mornings in Toulouse 🇫🇷

by @jasonleow | 275 words | 347🔥 | 385💌

Jason Leow

Current day streak: 347🔥
Total posts: 385💌
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Early mornings walking to class. The sun's not up yet, and blue light filled the streets. Everyone is still asleep, not even the office workers are up. Yet, some afar, you know that the local boulangerie is already open, as the lovely, comforting smell of fresh oven-baked bread wafts down the street. It stirs my senses awake. I was still groggy and half-asleep for having to wake so early, but this smells never fails to perk me up. I purposely walk slower, down to an elderly pace, just so to extend this sensory feast a little longer. Orange light streaming out from the bakery, and you can see some early birds already shopping for their daily breakfast baguette. Croissants, chocolate danishes and long loaves of baguettes, all warm and ready.


I didn't know a smell could trigger home-sickness and also home-sweet-home comfort and warmth all at the same time. But yet this was what this boulangerie did. The highlight of my mornings here, far from home. 


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Over and over, a pattern emerges. Transformative travel tends to start from going somewhere to learn something. For me, at least. By learning I mean taking classes in a craft, a language, or just some activity unique to that place. This time, I took up learning the French in Toulouse, for one month at a local university. This was in 2007. It was the summer vacation, so they had summer classes that's open for public and other university students. I signed up, and that started my adventure in France for the next 6 months. Yes, I spent half a year in France! What followed was a transformative trip like no other.


From Jason Leow's collection:

  • 1

    @jasonleow - I have a bakery story. I was staying with some friends in Amsterdam. Each morning, we'd walk to the baker to grab breakfast. As you walk into a 3.5 x 3.5 meter shop has shelves from floor to ceiling with fresh bread. The owner is standing in the center behind the register. My Dutch friend walks in, and without cracking a smile, asks: "Do you have any bread today?" -- to which the owner replies, also very normally, Yes, we have bread. ( Maybe I missed something. Maybe that's a standard form of address. Like we ask people how they're doing and they respond with - I'm fine. ( even though they have some malady). I thought it was fun.

    Brian Ball avatar Brian Ball | Apr 29, 2019 09:24:15
    • 1

      @brianball oh that phrase is so interesting. Looks superfluous on the surface but I'm sure there's a cultural significance to that. Love it haha. Fun indeed.

      Jason Leow avatar Jason Leow | Apr 30, 2019 22:49:07
  • 1

    @jasonleow wow I didn't know you spent that much time in France!

    Basile Samel avatar Basile Samel | Apr 29, 2019 17:16:34
    • 1

      @basilesamel haha yeah. Felt like a lifetime ago. It was such a great time

      Jason Leow avatar Jason Leow | Apr 29, 2019 23:28:14
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