I wonder if a French person would share the sentiment, yet Riga is believed to bear some resemblance to Paris, the capital of France, and to my recollection every now and then gets referred to as “Little Paris”. I am not sure where this has originated from; perhaps the connection to art nouveau architecture trend, but then again it would be a good reason to refer to Paris as “Little Riga” instead, since Riga picked up on the trend much earlier than Paris did, and is the number one city in the world with the highest number of art nouveau buildings per square meter.
A now-local Frenchman opened the first “Cadets de Gascogne” in Riga in 1999 – a French bakery selling fresh-baked croissants, chocolatines and hot chocolate, and with a real French atmosphere which was pretty exotic for the early third-millennium Latvian. It has opened many branches since, and I often visit many of them, depending on where in the city I am. Currently, my favourite is the one on Ģertrūdes/Kr. Barona, especially if the weather is nice and one can sit outside facing the centre of the city in a perfectly relaxed street-side right in the afternoon sun’s caress.
The place has now changed its name to “Troubadour Gourmand” – as the chain is re-branding. Yet, it is the same fresh croissants and the same good ol’ Bernard the Frenchman who steers the business, still buoyantly afloat under both names, popular as ever. It is the croissants.