Coffee Culture in Europe

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 “café culture” lifestyle and the heavy influence that literary circles had on the rise and dominance of the café.

Another cup?  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:

Café de Flore

Paris is the epicentre of café 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 Café de Flore in the trendy neighbourhood of Saint-Germain des Prés. The atmosphere is vibrant as the Parisian elite mix with the odd tourist and backpacker. The café is so hip that it even has its own CD, Café de Flore: Rendez-Vous a Saint Germain des Pres (another great stocking filler, incidentally).

Café Europa

Prauge is not about to let Paris go uncontested for the café lifestyle. Café Europa is the hotel café in the Grand Hotel Europa, and is the most photographed café in Prague. There is no question why, with its stunning Art Nouveau façade 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.

Café Américain

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 Café Américain. 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 café culture when enjoying Europe? What’s your favourite café (literary or otherwise)?