From time to time I mention how important I think it is to be able to enthuse, child-like, over the simplest things. Well, this morning threw up another one of those delicious occasions. I pedalled off to my yoga class this morning at about 10.45 and, for a change, parked my bike on the other side of rue Alsace-Lorraine, currently an enormous building site as the pedestrianisation and beautification of Toulouse's emblematic thoroughfare progresses. The yoga takes place in the irresistibly-titled rue Fourbastard which cuts across rue Alsace-Lorraine to form a T junction with the also pedestrianised rue de la Pomme. The stretch of rue Fourbastard between these two other, larger streets is only about thirty yards long, but I realised this morning as I was padlocking up my Iron Horse that I'd never, in six years of living here, ever been down this little alley. Down towards the end I noticed a couple of little bistro tables and ear-marked them for a possible coffee visit after flirting with nirvana.
Yoga was, as ever, wonderful. I left the building to be greeted by brilliant sunshine warming my face and illuminating the stunning, ancient buildings which form the mediaeval mosaic of Toulouse's centre. I walked past my bike down to the bistro tables and, sure enough, there was a delightful little hole-in-the-wall lunch and coffee counter. A few young lads were sitting at the counter, drinking coffee and smoking, the other table was occupied by a young girl audibly amused by her voicemail. My noisette turned up on a little wooden tray with a chocolate and a pyramid of sugar. Right opposite was the shop Yves Delorme, which sells stunning interior requisites: bed linen, curtains etc. Next door was Gant, the clothing store. Nobody wandered by, the sun continued to shine and latin music drizzled enticingly out of the café's radio. The coffee was superb and I had the feeling I'd discovered a hitherto completely unknown back alley in Venice, or some such (not that that's possible, but you get the idea). I couldn't believe I'd come across something so gorgeous a mere matter of yards from the busiest street in the region. The café's called Papilles; it's nothing special, but it contributed to one of the most remarkable little moments I've experienced this year. Just when you think you know somewhere you discover five square metres of paradise for ten minutes. It won't be like that on Saturday afternoon, I'm sure, but just before lunchtime this Thursday, April 21st, it was the most beautiful place on earth.
God, I love this country.