Most of you know that I love to write, but few know where I love to write.
Writers have very unique preferences on atmosphere. I have a friend who requires a specific CD to be playing while sipping java from her favorite mug and wearing a particular ensemble. Most simply flourish in either complete seclusion or amidst the noise and visual stimulation of a public place. I prefer the latter, but I dream about one latter in particular. I yearn to write in Paris.
I have actually been to Paris – causing me to now crave its passion like a teenaged girl after a summer kiss – but, sadly, I’ve never gone there just to write.
I currently fly a lot domestically for work, which has created an obsession with rewards programs that borders on embarrassing. The goal? To earn enough points to visit Paris – alone – and spend several weeks in cafés with creativity, wine and flirtatious grins overflowing in abundance. But what to do in the meantime?
There’s only one answer: Go to South Carolina. Yes, South Carolina.
I recently had a work assignment in Rock Hill – a quaint and peaceful little town wrapped in southern charm just south of Charlotte, NC. With a little time to spare, I explored the main street and stopped in at a local café/bakery called Amélie’s.
Instantly my creative self got whisked up in a cloud of euphoria and dropped down in front of the most glorious pastries I’ve seen since rue des Abbesses. And the taste? Pure Parisian.
The decor, however, inspired me before the flavor’d had a chance. A kaleidoscope of whimsical, old world funk, my eyes jolted from unique piece to unique piece in a state of awe. The upside down Eiffel Tower transformed into a hanging lamp; the stunning fixture made of kitchen utensils at the front entrance; the eclectic collection of mismatched chairs and tables dispersed throughout the place. I found myself thinking, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ everywhere I turned. The woman that did think of that? Part owner and designer extraordinaire, Brenda Ische.
The face behind the counter topped off the experience for me. She approached wearing a stylish chapeau with the perfect accessory of aloof yet receptive French hospitality. Not to mention l’accent du pays. Voila! L’image était complète.
The service, the food, the decor and the music (standards in both French and English) summoned my creative spirit like Lazarus from the grave. I never wanted to leave.
Amélie’s currently has four locations: one in Rock Hill, two in Charlotte, and one in Atlanta. And I’m not the only one who loves all that there is love about this place. The April edition of Buzz Feed magazine listed Amélie’s as one of the top “23 Bakeries Around the World You Need to Eat at Before You Die.” I list it as the number one bakery that you need to visit 23 x 10 times before you die.
This authentic feeling café has the perfect atmosphere for my authentic self in full artistic mode, which begs me to literally beg…
“Amélie, come to Dallas. I need you. My readers need you. S’il vous plait!”