I have just picked up the most lovely picture book / coffee table book / travel guide that would make a perfect stocking stuffer: The Grand Literary Cafes of Europe. It is chock full of wonderful pictures of the best cafes across the region, and includes a wealth of history on how Europe became famous for its â€œcafÃ© cultureâ€ lifestyle and the heavy influence that literary circles had on the rise and dominance of the cafÃ©.
Another cup? Â Photo Copyrght by Andrew Hayes
I started reading through to see how many of my favourite cafes were included, and surprisingly I have been to several of the ones listed. Here are a three of my best picks that are in the book:
CafÃ© de Flore
Paris is the epicentre of cafÃ© culture; today the city of lights has the highest number of historic coffeehouses still in operation. The best of them all, in my opinion, is the charming CafÃ© de Flore in the trendy neighbourhood of Saint-Germain des PrÃ©s. The atmosphere is vibrant as the Parisian elite mix with the odd tourist and backpacker. The cafÃ© is so hip that it even has its own CD, CafÃ© de Flore: Rendez-Vous a Saint Germain des Pres (another great stocking filler, incidentally).
Prauge is not about to let Paris go uncontested for the cafÃ© lifestyle. CafÃ© Europa is the hotel cafÃ© in the Grand Hotel Europa, and is the most photographed cafÃ© in Prague. There is no question why, with its stunning Art Nouveau faÃ§ade and interiors that rival that of royal residences. With wall-to-wall murals, marble columns, late-afternoon piano music, and a grandiose skylight, this is the best place to rest your heels after a busy day of sightseeing or shopping in the Czech capital.
Surrounded by buskers, cannabis shops, beer-soaked cafes and a general sense of overwhelming revelry, it is hard to believe an oasis of calm can be found here in the centre of Amsterdam. However, just off the bustling Leidseplein is the beautiful Art Deco CafÃ© AmÃ©ricain. Enjoy a newspaper or book in a civilised environment; it is quiet enough to enjoy conversation over the gentle hiss of the espresso machine or simply relax and admire the buzz of activity passing by on the street out of the window. The furnishings are authentic and create an intimate atmosphere unique in this tourist hotspot.
Do you soak up the cafÃ© culture when enjoying Europe? Whatâ€™s your favourite cafÃ© (literary or otherwise)?