Living 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.
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.