le fabuleux destin d’amelie patisserie.

after a night spent sleeping in one’s car, waking with each passing vehicle or barking dog or imagined footstep, unable to return to sleep at dawn — the windshield glass intensifying the sun’s heat — one seeks a place to relax, indoors. the place needs to serve great food, provide free wireless internet, and, above all, never close. it’s not just a method of killing time while waiting for something else to open or just an escape from claustrophobia’s grasp: it’s a necessary step, separating one day from the next and signalling to your body that you have awakened, ready to produce.

my recommendation, if one requires such a site in charlotte, falls solely on amelie’s french bakery. they offer a selection of seasonal soups, like tomato fennel and farmhouse butternut squash and spinach asparagus leek, which are made fresh daily from local ingredients. they also serve sandwiches and tartines (basically, open-faced sandwiches topped with, for example, ham and melted gruyere cheese) on fresh baguettes.

many come here for the dessert cases, housing an array of pastries, tarts, and cakes. peering into them, you enter a dream state where apricots and peaches perform ballet, pirouetting on the counter in front of you before coquettishly dancing away; caramels following one another up a slide, then gleefully descending, arms raised, into a heated, salt-water pool where they splash around with delight; passion fruit petit fours and coconut macaroons taking turns on the trampoline or riding a ski lift to the top of a mountain, where they strap cinnamon raisin and pecan sticky buns, respectively, to their feet and expertly maneuver their way back down to the chalet.

bright colors shoot forth from every corner and you feel a spinning sensation. when your equilibrium returns, you notice a table to your right you hadn’t seen previously, a lingering symptom of your reverie. atop is a teapot, colored a pastel green, and a ramekin of creme brulee. a thin-lipped girl sits quietly, the faint trace of dimples on her cheeks, her skin pale as milk, made whiter still by the jet black of her hair, which ends just below her ears, and her dark eyes. positioned in her hand, a spoon, and you watch her close her eyes, breathe out deeply, and gently crack the crust of her creme brulee. her face becomes serene, as if an act of catharsis has taken place.

you leave, contemplating the small wonders of life and thinking of elaborate ways to impact the lives of others, becoming a sort of guardian angel, bringing them joy and satisfaction. just then you hear a ringing noise and, for the first time, notice a phone booth beside your car. you hold the receiver to your ear, but, before speaking, an old metal box catches your eye. you whip your head around, sensing that someone is watching you, but no one is there. your eyes brim with tears as you open the box and remember the tile in your childhood bathroom that you once hid it behind. you leaf through the memorabilia within, remembering happy events long forgotten, awash in emotion.

basically that’s how this place makes me feel every visit.

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