La Cage Atelier
(Story of the Third Cage)

Look at me! Look at me! From its broad sweep of stone steps to the carved finials crowning its sleek slate roof, the little building seemed to be calling out to passers by. Everything about it called for a second look. Unlike its neighbors, it stood apart with its tall open windows on three sides, affording a view of its neighbors as well as the busy street. Sturdy stone quoins marched up its corner walls, as if to protect its very visible interior.

For more than a century this tiny, but grand building had housed a pastry shop. Four generations of delectable sweets. Its fancy frosted facade grandly announcing that something very special was to be found inside.

But what of its life before the years of sweet smells and delicate crusts? The carved numbers on the cornerstone indicated it had been built in 1763. Who built it? Why did it stand by itself while other buildings in the town center sat cozily side by side? It was the only building in town with a slate roof, all others being capped by traditional clay tiles. Its tall arched windows were outlined in stone and delicately underscored with lacy wrought iron while neighboring windows were dressed with brightly painted shutters. It sat amidst these neighbors, like a carefully coifed and gracious lady quietly appraising her more colorfully garbed provincial cousins.

Inside the stage was set. Renee was ready. Philippe was ready. Aunt Sophie and cousin Louis were waiting in the wings. Or so it seemed. A dream that began years ago was about to be realized. A year ago, when Renee had expressed unhappiness with her job as a designer for the House of Fortuny in Rome and talked about how much she had enjoyed working with Sophie in the creation of Chateau LaCage, Philippe suggested maybe it was time to make her dream of having her own studio a reality.

It was hard to believe it had happened so quickly. Tomorrow they would have the grand opening of LaCage Atelier. The evening before, the four of them, enjoying a celebratory dinner in a lovely little restaurant around the corner, reviewed the past year and the coming together of the studio. So many things just seemed to fall into place: Philippe's successful mystery series which gave them a solid financial base, Aunt Sophie's enthusiasm for the project and her wide circle of friends which hopefully would assure Renee a core of clients, cousin Louis' creativity which was evident not only in the studio's decor but as part of the fine art that would be offered for sale and of course the studio itself. This building that had housed the pastry shop, where they had found the dessert table and little serving cart for Sophie's bridal bed and breakfast was still on the market when Renee and Philippe decided it was indeed time to turn Renee's dream into a reality. The retired owner was eager to sell, so the business transaction proceeded without difficulty.

Though the two story building was small, its location in the heart of the attractive and bustling little town was perfect. A small building behind the studio would serve well to house stock and supplies. The size and facade of the building resembled both LaCage de I'le and Chateau LaCage which prompted Philippe to suggest using the name La Cage for the studio as well.

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