painting of à la Petite Fabrique
Chocolate, Sweets & Bakeries,  Life in Paris & France

Saying Goodbye to Icons in the Bastille Neighborhood

painting of à la Petite FabriqueLiving in a small neighborhood of the Bastille, the hardest phrases to hear over the last year have been: “We’re closing and retiring” and “They have sold the shop for their retirement”: Holmes, the stationery store and now à la Petite Fabrique, the chocolate factory. Holmes was transformed into an upscale Italian restaurant and word is that Alain Ducasse is buying the Petite Fabrique property.

We moved to the neighborhood in 1995. Around 1996 Jean-Claude and Bruno saved the Petite Fabrique from demise when the owners wanted to retire. Their daughter would not be able to lift the sugar sacks; she wanted to be a pilot. This time, the bank would not approve a loan to David, who has worked at the chocolate factory for 18 years. The bid went to the second offer. Everything happened so quickly that the neighborhood regulars are in shock, our faces pale with sadness. Kids at the time, and older now, some have the lingering memory from the 1980s when à la Petite Fabrique had no real name and was located a block away on rue Daval in a tiny storefront.Image of Holmès storefront before they closed Bastille Paris

The neighborhood was glad to see the textile import-export sweat shops and wholesalers that had occupied the streets since the 1990s start to leave for Aubervilliers. Gradually, a real estate office, a cat café, the veterinarian and the pet supply store replaced some of the wholesalers. The specialty bike store with carts for carrying cargo opened. The organic bakery, grocery and restaurants and then the five-star boutique hotel ….

The handwriting is on the wall. The neighborhood in the area of Hugo’s Les Miserables and the French Revolution has gone upscale.

I’m off to buy what I can at the Petite Fabrique. They close for good tomorrow. We’ll store it in the ‘fridge and hold on to the memory as long as possible.

This Web site and and its blog articles are for travelers to Paris who are looking for advice from someone who lives in Paris. These tips are "for Parisians at heart". Many people would like to visit, some can and some cannot - so I will help you enjoy a glimpse of the city and its surroundings. This project has been ongoing since 2002. Prior to living in Paris (since 1992) my European history began in the early 70s with three years in Wiesbaden, Germany. My next foray onto the Continent was in the mid-80s after graduation from the University of Florida (where I met Erik): traveling around Europe and UK with my friend, Margie, hitchhiking around and working in Ireland. After living and working as a journalist in Sweden for four years, traveling on boats, the Trans-Siberian Railway, local trains and planes took Erik and I around the world. I began working as a flight attendant in 1990 for American Airlines, based in Chicago. We moved to Paris, France in 1992 where I commuted between Paris and Chicago for my flight attendant/stewardess job. Finally my inner voice said "Stop!" and I left American Airlines six weeks shy of 20 years January 1, 2010. Now that is over and I am back working as a journalist and photographer full time on Colleensparis.com - My videos are posted on YouTube on the colleensparis youtube channel. and I am active in Toastmasters 75. Enjoy!