Indulging Yourself

Text read by Mary Peters

How do you translate the German “Genusszentrum” into English? Especially when the “geniessen” is one which involves all your senses? Centre for indulgence does not “cut the mustard”. Pleasure centre – sounds too corny. We move on.

People living in Wissembourg will be aware of the buildings popping up on the road to Soultz and Haguenau. And we will have seen the building with the tents, the Tarte Flambée sign – we look at it as we drive on, but our concentration is distracted by the traffic.

I saw the flyer of this “Genusszentrum” in another shop, spoke to the person at the cash till and she told me where this place is. I connected the dots.

The website and the brochure were incredibly inviting, but I also had an ulterior motive. I went in and said hello. The coffee was good, the “Apfel-Streuselkuchen” was outstanding. But what I saw was not different. But then, well it was somehow different. Certainly, for the local area. I had seen something similar in England. It is not that easy to describe because there is so much. All you can do is to immerse yourself into a world inviting you to indulge.

The building is industrial, it is big, it is modern, it is practical. Inside, you walk into a restaurant, and a shop, somewhere in the loft is a gallery, a café. Despite its size, the place is surprisingly intimate. It is full of stuff, but not overcrowded. A giant chandelier dominates the middle. It is light, but not too bright. It is airy, but not cold. It is warm, welcoming and if it is empty of people, it is still full, because there is so much to explore.

The place is owned and managed by husband and wife team Elke and Hans Dieter and a third partner, Frank. Previously they had been in event management and were looking for a new project – for fun. Not too much work, nothing to prove anymore. They had been there and done that. Corona changed all that and now, like for many self-employed, times are challenging. The days are long, the pressure is intense and the future uncertain.

Elke explained the challenges of setting up the business in France. She explained, the concept was so new to the area, it took more convincing than normal to prove their merchandise was not just recycling on the cheap.

In normal times it offers a lot. Baking, BBQ and cooking courses, Tarte Flambée accessories, gifts, home and tableware decorations. Elke is a photographer and displays her photos in a small gallery upstairs.

This place is a refuge. In normal times, there are so many things to do. And it is not an indulgence, it is wholesome, it is down to earth, it is fun, a pleasure, a place to be active, enjoy, laugh, learn, explore…. Some things are not possible at the moment, but it is a refuge. It is warm and welcoming, you can escape and feel secure because, as we wait for the storm to pass, we appreciate the indulgence of seeing, tasting, hearing, touching and smelling.

So, how do you translate “Genusszentrum?” How about something with paradise?