Café Littéraire Le Bovary opened its doors in November 2015 and is a unique place to grab a coffee or meal in the city. What catches your eye from the entrance? The books! They’re everywhere!
Luxembourg has an increasing offer of coffee shops, bistros and restaurants, for all tastes and budgets. Food is great mostly everywhere, and a glass of crémant or a thirst-calming beer is not hard to find. But the Grand Duchy didn’t have a place for bookworms; there’s not been an authentic, cosy, I-feel-at-home kind of place where you could stay as long as you liked with a good cup of coffee and a book to snuggle in with on a comfy couch. Until now, that is.
Located where the famous “Am Duerf” café was, Café Littéraire Le Bovary, with its dark pink walls, vintage furniture (many donated by enthusiast customers) and dainty china is an open invitation to stay an entire morning or afternoon. An arrival for a morning coffee can end up with you reading a French classic, working peacefully in one of their sofas or even staying for lunch. Believe me, I’ve been there!
Lili Fouet, owner of the place and a writer herself, had worked in the banking sector almost all her life. Eager to make a living out of what makes her happy, literature; and inspired by the story of her favourite book, Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, she has overcome numerous obstacles to make her dream come true.
It has totally changed my life. I’m happy to wake up every morning and I thank every moment of it
Firstly, finding financial support for the project was an uphill task and many stood against her, afraid that this unique concept would be too much of a change for the surrounding community. The venue is classified as a historical monument and is owned by the City of Luxembourg, so it’s easy to understand some of the objections.
To prove that her purpose was not to destroy tradition but, on the contrary, enhance and value it, she decided first to keep the original name of the place that had always been on the entrance wall. In face-to-face encounters with her neighbours, she sought to show that literature can actually unite people instead of being a solitary practice. When you ask her which things are the ones she loves the most about the place, with no doubt she answers: “The books of course, the lamps and the cozy atmosphere”.
To eat (and drink) at Le Bovary
But there is also the food! Franca D’addabbo, the Italian chef of the place has become Fouet’s right hand woman. The menu is decided the night before by both, and changes every day depending on (mostly local) product availability. So you won’t be reading your options from a traditional menu; Fouet or D’addabbo will pass by your table and tell you the options themselves. You can, however, call beforehand and order a special meal if you wish.
“It’s important not to program everything in life; therefore our menu is an everyday surprise”.
“Franca cooks with her heart, so she’s a perfect match for the place”, says Fouet. What to expect? Homemade meals that actually do make you feel at home. Meat, fish, pasta and even traditional Luxembourgish dishes are prepared to order and there are vegetarian options too. There’s not many desserts, but what they have for the day is fresh and goes perfectly with a coffee, or two.
Le Bovary can seat up to 35 people, so it’s best to make a reservation, especially for dinner. They also have a well-stocked bar and their cocktails made from Ben’s Ginger, a German brand of bio ginger concentrate, has become a local talking-point.
And coming soon: Sunday brunches!
Literary by name, Literary by nature
Books are the real main course of the place, though. You can even find them in the bathrooms! Fouet’s partnership with Alinea Librairie means that she sells several new and antique books from the bookstore at the same price that they do. You can take home any other book and bring it back when you’re done reading; you can also exchange one of theirs for one of your own or just leave yours there.
Frequent literary readings and meetings with authors are organised. Future projects involve the habilitation of the upper floor to offer workshops and other book-related events, while the floor downstairs is planned as a small cinema, where films about books (of course) will be shown. And to make the venue even more special, Fouet has partnered also with Turkish pianist Murat Öztürk, who generally plays every Thursday evening, lending the café a magical air.
So what are you waiting for, join the book revolution in Luxembourg and come to Café Littéraire Le Bovary!
All Photos ©Pippa Herbert