Today we ventured to Avignon! Avignon is a somewhat small city in the south of France, roughly an hour drive by bus from Montpellier. Avignon is situated in a region of France known as Provence, famous among other things, for its wonderful lavenders and soaps! While on a tour of the city with our group, Awa pointed out a special store. I have never experienced such a decadent sensory explosion. The store needed no advertising as the wafting smell of lavender and blossoming flowers pulled any passerby in. It seemed no mistake that the stores front was open to the street displaying the myriad of tasty looking soaps. On a table placed strategically by the entrance sat a massive, cheese like in appearance, block of soap. At this point the subject may be obvious to you but if not, it was a SOAP STORE! I smiled for the entire duration of my visit to this enchanting land of strange and familiar aromas. Beginning with an exploration of each soap and the corresponding scent, I thoroughly explored the shelves of overwhelming color endlessly experiencing the bodacious, odoriferous bouquet of earthy, biting, skunky, and downright mind boggling fragrance that this resplendent soap store in Avignon had to offer.
Sometime during this adventure I happened to witness Nate aggressively embracing a delicate flower petal made entirely of soap. His eyes glazed over in a joyful bliss, he turned to me and said “Oh, but you must have a nostril full of this one too!” And so as requested I inhaled the magical perfume and immediately I felt an overwhelming urge to pop the soap into my mouth and grace my tastebuds with the wonderful flavors that lay within. Alas soap does not mix well with the stomach and so I settled with merely a nose full of the morsel. And on I ventured with my trusty shopping basket by my side.
I must confess it was not easy to leave that place. It was as if the aromas that inhabited that place swept us away to a land of tranquility and happiness unknown to all who failed to enter. I must warn against going there alone, for if I myself had done so I fear I would have found myself lying on my back covered in soaps breathing ceaselessly in the sweet and pungent scents of roses, orange blossoms, freshly harvested lavender, and the list I know, nay I fear, does not end. But alas I must return for my parents. And after I have shared with them this world of magical possibility, I shall bring my children, and my children’s children.
The first thing I noticed upon entering the shop was its color scheme: a standard monotone floor, white paint, bare lighting, and rows upon rows of colorful soap! The goods being sold spoke for themselves! apart from looking like some bizarre modern color theory art, it smelled like standing in a flower garden where each type of flower had an instinct to distinguish itself to any approaching noses in the vicinity. The different types of soap were fighting over my nostrils, and all I could do was run up and smell each kind.
Along with the display of soap bars in the front room, the store had a back room full of miscellaneous items (I just love miscellaneousness) such as scented oils, perfumes, sea sponges, salt to make you sweat less, lotions made of donkey milk, and gift baskets. I picked up a pink piece of soap that was shaped like a flower but smelled like the end result venturing for twelve years on a leaky rowboat between equatorial islands to collect every known fruit, blending up said fruit, bringing it by foot to an alpine snowscape, squeezing it all through an ancient cheesecloth to condense all of its flavor to a single drop, consuming said juice drop, and then sledding down the mountain to drink coffee in a cafe in Avignon. It smelled tasty. I was reeeeealy close to taking a nibble or two:
A piece of soap
for me and you
In the shape of a duck
or a horn or a shoe
It smells so good
It smells so new
I’m so close to taking
a nibble or two!
“I do say, me must never leave this magical place,” said I. Alas Noah simply nodded, a smooth confirmation of what we knew to be true. The soap of dreams, we had found. Our parents would surely stir at this wonderfully vibrant redolence. “Pardon,” declared the attending registrar. “You seem to have dented this boat-shaped soap with the tip of your proboscis!” “Oopla,” said I, “I’ll take the lot of it! Don’t be daft Noah, we’ll think of a use! Such an aroma shall surely please our snouts in dire times to come!” And following the swift purchase of no less than seven bars of scented suds and a fine sack of lavender, the lot of us evacuated this cave of secrets for fear of getting lost in eternal olfactory bliss.
Bon Nuit, I’m off to eat some Camembert,
And some Roquefort.
PS: I highly recommend watching the “soap bars” episode of How It’s Made if you have any further questions.
PPS: Images to follow! They could not be uploaded at time of original post.