While tooling around southern France on a sunny day in May (as one does), my dear friend Christine and I stopped off to explore her home turf, the small city of Montpellier. Her boyfriend, Cal, greeted her with kisses and proudly squired us around, showing off the highlights of this magical town that few foreign tourists ever see.
I had no expectations that while I was there, I’d fall deeply in love — with a toy store.
Pomme de Reinette is like a dream from my childhood, a cozy warren of themed rooms brimming with tabletop carousels, dollhouse miniatures, antique robots, diminutive soldiers, ornate dioramas of far-away landscapes, board games, mobiles, figurines and anything else your grandparents, parents, or much younger self might have coveted once upon a time.
Here you can wander upstairs and down, taking flights of fancy to discover other eras and even other worlds. It’s the kind of store that inspires glee, delight and hand-holding before glass cases chock full of happy memories you can hardly believe you forgot to remember.
The store’s name is French for “Pippin apple,” a crisp, spring-green varietal that originated in 18th-century America, in what’s now the New York City borough of Queens. I can’t say if these apples make for good toys, but they sure make one hell of a pie.
My friend Christine has already made a compelling case for the inherently romantic nature of Montpellier, but to her enticements I’d add Pomme de Reinette, where you can both re-discover what once stirred your imagination and shaped the people you’d someday become.
Pomme de Reinette, 33 Rue de l’Aiguillerie, Montpellier, France, +04 67 60 52 78