Skip to content

Travel

SIP Coffee Bar, Specialty Coffee Guide Bordeaux

Specialty Coffee Shops in Bordeaux Pt. 2

The Bordeaux Specialty Coffee Guide

Tada!  Here it is.  First I wrote my coffee-based article on European Coffee Trip, then the little introductory post to Bordeaux's specialty coffee shops here last week.  Now I have also finalized my real, and own Bordeaux Specialty Coffee Guide. I made it! Puh 😅

Every specialty coffee shop in Bordeaux deserves its own post.

They are the reason why I fell in love with Bordeaux. However, an individual post for every café would be too much.  But I think that it isn't possible any other way. So this might seem like I copy pasted my drafts for all individual posts and put them together in one link. I didn't. This here is meant to be ONE literal post.

It starts with Bordeaux's specialty coffee map. Next come some quick tips. That is something that I always search for on other blogs, when touring a city. Lastly you can read the real guide.  There you will not only find my experience and reviews, but below them, in small font, the most important quick information one needs: their coffee roastery and roasts (torréfacteur/-ion), an overview of the drink and food menu (cafés et boissons / pour manger), what my favorite item is (mon favorite), what diets are suited here and lastly the address and opening times.  Now let me get started!

The Map:

Bordeaux Specialty Coffee Guide – Quick Tips 

Four all-time favorites: KURO, Café Piha, SIP, Café Laiton

Own Roasteries: L’Alchimiste, Café Piha, La Pelle Café, Café Gusco

Café PIHA

Breakfasts: SIP coffee bar, Café Laiton
Matcha Lattes: Café Laiton, SIP, Horace
Fine Dining Food: Horace
Vegan/GF Options: Banana Café, (and Cafe Piha and SIP a bit)
Where to work: KURO, Banana Café, Café Piha
If you’re in a hurry:
Black List


The Real Bordeaux Specialty Coffee Guide

Finally if you want to know what truly makes each of these specialty coffee shops unique and amazing, then keep on reading.  It's definitely more than the flat white styling – even though I think that's fun to compare too.

• Café Laiton • KURO espresso bar • Café Piha • SIP coffee bar •
Black List Café • Horace - café.cuisine.canons • L'Alchimiste café and boutique • Café Gusco • La Pelle Café • Banana Café • Oven Heaven •

•  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •

Café Laiton

This is the specialty coffee shop in the bustling Marché des Capucins, a local very famous market.  Gaele from Bordeaux is the owner and does most of the work herself.  For me, she embodies all of Café Laiton.  Strong and chic, but gentleLaiton is copper in French. It’s the material of her coffee bar, as well as the color of the delicate font on her shining business cards. In the symbology of metals Laiton stands for woman empowerment.

On my first visit, while I was still coffee-focused for my article on European Coffee Trip, I had the "flat white".  She actually doesn’t write flat white on her menu, because she prefers to keep it in the local language. The comparable French version would be the Grand Crème.  But if somebody asks for a flattie, they will get the Australian one as well.  The next visits I started sampling my way through the other lattes: matcha, beetroot, rose-petal.  They were all wonderful, not too sweet, beautiful and fairly priced.

My first breakfast was the dainty, mouth-watering Pain Perdu, that unfortunately isn't on the menu anymore. Gaele actually used to make Shakshouka and avo-toasts too.  However, the local market shoppers didn’t support this. She realized that she herself didn’t either and served these mostly to satisfy global specialty coffee shop expectations. Now she only prepares traditional french dishes with fresh ingredients from the market. Since I am not much of a "PETIT-dejeuner"-er, I chose the savory Assiette Complète for my second breakfast.

In the summer Gaele prepares croques with duck breast and in the winter warming raclettes for lunch.  The raclette can be pimped with Morbier cheese, trout or bacon and has generous side of green salad.

I loved the open market atmosphere of Café Laiton. This is also the place where I met the most interesting people.  Once an old French guy from Paris pushed his latte into my picture before adding his sugar to it. I suggested him to try it without sugar, explaining that this coffee were better than most in France.  He immediately agreed, regretting having added the sugar in first place.  Another time I spied on Ivy Nette, Horace’s baker, who was chatting with Gaele. On my last visit I came into conversation with another local about the pros of studying architecture.

Last but not least, all the times I came to late for a Café Laiton's lunch, Gaele recommended her favorite tips in Bordeaux to me.  Once Il Meneghino, the Milanese lunch restaurant, and secondly the fine but affordable L’Atelier des Faures.  I tried both for lunch and they were just as amazing as Café Laiton itself.

torréfacteur: usually Belleville from Paris and Piha 
cafés et boissons: usual espresso drinks, cold brew, piston/chemex filter, beetroot/turmeric/orange/honey-rose/matcha/chai latte, artisan hot chocolate (white, dark, with spices), teas, fresh smoothie, organic soft drinks, beer, wine, aperitifs and cocktails
pour manger: small petit-dejeuners (granola, pastries, little galettes), savory "assiete complètes" (with trout/bacon, salad, savory galette, mushrooms, a cheese), raclettes, pastries
mon favorite: assiete complete with trout and matcha/beetroot latte or grand crème ("flat white")
diets: vegetarian options, oat/almond milk (and Gaele can make latte art with it!)
-> 28 Place des Capucins, 33800 (in Marché des Capucins, on the south entrance, just 20m right of the middle entrance) // Wed-Su: 8-14:30

KURO espresso bar

This little homely café definitely belongs to one of my favorites.  Pascal, the owner, and his friend Aurèlie are an awesome team.  They create a welcoming, friendly atmosphere and serve awesome pastries and lunches along with perfect flat whites, seasonal lattes and espresso tonics.

KURO espresso bar, Bordeaux Specialty Coffee Guide

To find a name for his espresso bar, Pascal did a survey in town.  The results showed that the Bordelaise prefer a foreign language that is NOT English. He knows some Japanese, which made him come up with kuro.  That means black in Japanese.  Coffee is associated with this color, however the light brown coffee stain that backdrops his logo, shows the customer what his coffee is really about.

The name (and matcha pastries and matcha latte) however is where the Japanese influence ends.  Kuro's influence continues from Montreal, Canada.  That’s where Pascal first got to learn about specialty coffee.  So you guessed it – Pascal from KURO is the one behind that pumpkin spiced latte, which you might have spotted on my last post!

Pumpkin Latte and cookie at KURO espresso bar

The pastries are a mix of French and "Canadian".  He luckily also brought the manner of samples across the Atlantic, which enabled me to taste every single pastry. All were awesome: the peanut butter cookie, chocolate-pear muffin, autumn scones, brownie . . .   You won’t go wrong with anything, although my favorite pick will still stay the cute french financiers.  I loved this small, chewy french pastry, that has the form of a miniature loaf cake.  Both the pear-almond and matcha flavors were awesome, but they change constantly, so you'll never run out of tries.

Still Kuro doesn’t feel like at all like most "American" (or Canadian) coffee shops in Europe.  It has french charm. Maybe its the pierre beige stone walls inside, the same ones that make up most of Bordeaux’s old town?

The interior is small and welcoming, but you still have your own privacy wherever you are.  It’s actually a great place for undisturbed laptop work – especially in the miniature stone-encircled "courtyard". The wifi password is iamgroot. That’s the little tree guy from Guardian of the Galaxy. "Yes we are a little bit geeky" Pascal told me.  Then he showed me his favorite book: T-Rex Trying. That explained what the drawing of the T-Rex trying to drink a coffee on the chalkboard was about.

I also found lots of friends meeting up here – especially Bordeaux’s coffee bloggers. But don’t get me wrong.  Kuro is the complete opposite of "hipster-girly-‘take 100 photos and not care about what it is’" type of place.

First I messaged Alexandra from @passiondupain if she wanted to meet me, and she suggested to do so at Kuro. The same day Victoria (@fiveofdecember, a latte-pro and barista) and Madleen (@madisonornot her matcha equivalent) happened to be there too.  On my next visit I met Victoria again, this time accompanied by @budget_jones, who is opening her own brunch-all-day café in Bordeaux soon (Contrast Brunch) and the stylish runner @amelietauziede.

But I don’t really want to advertise Kuro for the blogger place.  Bordeaux’s coffee bloggers are extremely friendly and down-to-earth.  So Kuro just proves itself to be a place that locals love and value. An espresso bar, where they have their peace and can enjoy delicious treats, lunches and coffee shop specialties.

torréfacteur: La Fabrique du Café from Limoges
cafés et boissons: usual espresso drinks, cold brew, espresso tonic, Chemex, V60, matcha/chai/pumpkin spice latte, hot chocolate, teas, artisan juices/lemonades
pour manger: small petit-dejeuners (granola, pastries), quiche, tartines, salads, pastries (Canadian inspired like scones, cookies, muffins, brownies, but also croissants and amazing financiers)
mon favorite: pumpkin spice latte and financiers (actually all pastries)
diets: vegetarian options, almond/hazelnut/rice milk
-> 5 Rue Mautrec, 33000 // Mo: 14-18:00, Tu-Fr: 8-18:00, Sa: 9-18:00

Café Piha

This espresso lounge is remarkable – the amazon like interior, the specialty iced tea sweetened with cascara syrup served in a wine glass . . .  and definitely Pierre.  He, as the owner and roaster, is extremely passionate, which gives Café Piha an awesome vibe and every product an extra cherry on top.  I even heard Toulouse’s coffee scene talk about him and his craft.

Pierre’s coffee roasts are some of the most popular in town at the moment. But these roasts aren’t only perfect for flat whites or a Chemex.  Pierre also uses them for his collaborations with other artisan connoisseurs. He combines his cold brew with the local craft beer company AZIMUT to craft a coffee ale.  He roasts a special Yirgacheffe especially for his best mate in Normandie who makes "crazy good" ice cream. I tried, it was crazy good.

Pierre learned to be a barista in Auckland, New Zealand. In his free hours he escaped to Piha Bay and kite-surfed there. That passion has named his coffee shop. The bay is also home to Lion’s Rock, the logo of Café Piha. But this coffee shop wouldn't be complete without its whole passionate team. Antoine, Pierre’s friend for six years and now barista-mate, manages to miss lots of trains, but still he dares to travel overseas.

"He is a miss-train guy, a really good barista, a really cool dude, really passionate" . . . "I think he is the only barista on earth who has been on St. Helene island to see harvesting. It is in the middle of nowhere in the Atlantic Ocean. There you originally have a bourbon coffee from La Réunion, which has never been crossed. . . ."

That's Antoine. Next there is Pauline who used to own Wrac Tea Shop in Brighton.  Now she is a fellow barista and Piha’s fine tea specialist.  Angèle is the kitchen chef.  She makes all the pastries (that are solely sweetened with cascara syrup) as well as the weekly changing lunches that range from French croques to buddha bowls.  Probably the awesome nutty granola too, although I'm not positive about that.  All I know is that it's homemade and was one of my favourites in Bordeaux.

If I lived in Bordeaux I think I would come here most often for a sophisticated "Kaffee Kuchen" – an afternoon pastry.  Afterwards I would soak up the atmosphere while getting some work done.  It just feels most like an afternoon place to me, fine, dim and calm.  If my mom comes along, she would enjoy her local craft beer here. And if my dad comes, he would be more than pleased with their flat white and brownie.

torréfaction: from their own roastery that you can see in the back of the café, two espresso roasts, 3-4 filter roasts
cafés et boissons: usual espresso drinks, cold brew, chemex, V60, chai latte, artisan hot chocolate (white or dark), specialty teas and iced teas, artisan juices, craft beers
pour manger: small petit-dejeuners (granola, banana bread, scones), varying lunch with wraps, bowls, croques, many pastries like banana bread, carrot cake, brownie, financiers, scones, PB cookies . . .
mon favorite: granola, brownie and homemade iced tea
diets: vegetarian options, vegan brownie, sometimes gf cakes, soy/almond milk
-> 69 Rue des Ayres, 33000 // Tu-Fr: 8:30-18:30, Sa: 10-18:30

SIP coffee bar

SIP coffee bar was the first specialty coffee shop I visited in Bordeaux.  It was on my one day vacation with my dad. We saw coffee books, big jars of flowers, huge open windows facing a beautiful Boulangerie, large rustic tables. SIP just looked too welcoming and unpretentious.

Unfortunately I had some stomach issues that day.  We arrived and there were only two choices for breakfast.  French tartines (bread, butter, jam) or an Aussie breakfast.  I insisted that we only split one breakfast, so we could sample our way through more spots the rest of the day.  But I wasn’t going to order granola and banana bread when on vacation in France. Now, french tartines (bread-butter-jam), the most boring thing in the world, were my only choice.  We could pimp it up with a soft boiled egg, ok. But orange juice, and coffee came along with it. There’s no other option, because that’s how the french do it.  Breakfasts only exist as a formule.  So wow, yay, sick stomach, and lets dig into a soft boiled egg, orange juice and coffee alongside the most boring breakfast dish I could imagine?

Well thinking back of that pretty awful morning I had, I remember that my disappointed reactions of the breakfast menu were unjustified. Despite my stomach and mood, the tartines were quite enjoyable. I actually finished my share and would have taken more. They were really really good.  Really good.  Perfectly toasted bread, amazing butter, and artisan jams.

Now on my second, third, fourth and so on time in Bordeaux, I got to know SIP better.  Julie, the owner (the one with thick curly hair) used to be a jeweller.  Then she moved to Australia and sold French pastries there. Next, in Belgium, she learned to be a barista at Or Coffee.  Since April 2016 she has SIP.  It is a rustic, open café with classic, high quality food and a laid-back but busy atmosphere.

Now who would have guessed: the following times, I only came for breakfast.  Once I tried the aussie breakfast.  The next time I had the pimped up French breakfast with trout and scrambled eggs. That addition was obviously awesome, but I even enjoyed every single bite of the french tartines.

The food takes time, but it is top notch and adorable. At SIP, everything is fine and dainty but in a rustic, unpretentious way.

Her barista team includes Laure (a local aeropress champion) and another Julie. Thibault, the little brother is SIP’s pastry chef.  His selection of pastries is abundant.  It changes from fancy tartlettes to mouth-watering millionaires shortbread.

Millionaires Shortbread on Dune du Pyla
In the morning I had SIP's french breakie and then got the millionaires shortbread to go for my day trip: 1h train to Arcachon, rented a bike, rode 40min to Dune du Pyla and rewarded myself with this amazing treat after walking up this humongous natural sand dune

The chocolate chip cookies seem to be coming out of the oven every time I’m here and taste like it too.  Unfortunately I didn’t try Thibault’s best-seller pastry. It’s the fondant au chocolat.  Good reasons for a next visit.  Maybe I’ll get it after lunch, because that looks worth trying too: split-pea lemon soup with smoked paprika and mint, or tomato-harissa-feta tarts? – made by Ambre, the new kitchen chef.

The last thing I will mention is one of the most important things I value from SIP.  The way Julie sources her ingredients is precise and just. Everything is as local as possible. The flour is from Moulin Foricher, the organic bread from Laurent Lachenal in Bordeaux, the eggs from La Compagnie Fèrmiere, the milk from Tartifume and the cheeses from L’Epicerie Delphine, which is just 100m down the road. The only exceptions are banana, lemon and chocolate for the pastries.  Yes and of course her coffee isn’t grown on the balcony.  However sometimes she runs through town to get some of Piha’s roasts if she ran out of coffee.

torréfacteur: changes, has included Or Coffee, Five Elephant, Bonanza, Dark Arts, Assembly, Piha
cafés et boissons: usual espresso drinks, cold brew, japanese iced coffee, chemex, V60, aeropress, hot chocolate, matcha latte, golden latte, teas, homemade 24-hour brewed lemonade, fresh juices, local soft drinks, matcha/chocolate frappé
pour manger: aussie (banana bread, granola) or french breakfast (bread, butter, jam), additionally soft boiled egg or smoked trout with scrambled eggs, lunch: daily changing dishes like tarts and salads, Saturday brunch
mon favorite: french tartine with trout and scrambled eggs, matcha latte, millionaires shortbread, (and if you’re a lemonade person, definitely the 24h home-brewed lemonade too)
diets: vegetarian options, gf pastries, almond/soy milk
-> 69 Bis Rue des Trois-Conils, 33000 // Mo-Fr: 8:30-18:30, Sa: 9:30-18:30

Black List Café

Black List Café was Bordeaux’s first third wave coffee shop.  And smart Google thought it was the only one existing in Bordeaux, when I searched in June, 2017.  However now, there is this much better source – called Ookie Dough, to help you 😉 But back to Black List: It was opened in 2014 by wine-connoisseur Laurent Pierre.  Now he, with his friend Xavier, own the newest and fanciest specialty coffee shop in Bordeaux: Horace – café.cuisine.canons.  More on that later.

I experienced Black List Café through Morgan, the lively afternoon barista.  She was just so charming and full of good spirit while attending to the lines of people swamping this little café. She quickly served me the flat white so I could take a picture, before the latte art got foamy.  She introduced me to some of the best pastries. She showed me where to squish on the floor to make an artistic picture of the tiled wall menu and playful ceiling reflect in the La Marzocco.  She was sympathetic and helpful when I came too late for lunch – which happened multiple times. If Bordeaux didn’t give me the best mood in first place, entering Black List to Morgan’s welcomeness would.

As I said the pastries are awesome.  I tried a juicy, moist coffee muffin, a lavish, creamy carrot cake and a (gingerbread) brownie. It was actually was supposed to just be a normal brownie – but  I was told that Ambre (not SIP’s Ambre, another one who likes to cook) just likes ginger a lot 🙂

This is also the best coffee shop to find aussie breakfasts in Bordeaux. They try to keep their ingredients local when possible.  But that beloved avo-toast with poached eggs and passion fruit will stay on the menu.  Also, Black List makes a legit bowl of fancy granola that is really worth trying.

A "pretty little mess" is how Morgan described Black List. I would not be able to think of a better wording, for this one-aisle busy, lively, Bordelaise-traditional, coffee shop.

torréfacteur: usually Lomi and Belleville from Paris and a third varying guest roast (like Assembly, Morgan’s friends, from London)
cafés et boissons: usual espresso drinks, cold brew, chemex, V60, aeropress, hot chocolate, matcha latte, chai latte, teas, different fresh squeezed juices, local soft drinks
pour manger: scrambled eggs on bread with butter, avo-toast with poached eggs (and passion fruit + pepper or bacon and veggies), homemade granola in orange blossom yogurt and fresh fruits; daily changing lunch bowl and croque madame
mon favorite: granola and carrot cake
diets: vegetarian options, sometimes gf pastries, almond milk
-> 27 Place Pey Berland, 33000 // Mo-Fr: 8:00-18:00, Sa: 9:30-18:00

Horace

Fine dining dinners exist for a long time, in very nice restaurants.  However the most elaborate breakfasts are usually some random five star hotels with stuff I don’t want.  Or they are the hipster, rustic, coffee shop splurge, which I love too.  But that’s not the same as a fine dining breakfast which I would appreciate to have for a change too. Finally I found something quite comparable to my idea, at Horace.

Horace is opened by Black List’s owner, Laurent Pierre. He discovered the complexity of coffee after being a wine connoisseur.  His dream was to open a place like Horace. He started with Black List and once that proved successful, Horace started becoming tangible.  This restaurant serves ornamental meals accompanied by specialty coffee and fine regional wines. Though still, Horace is a coffee shop.  So you can come in jeans, sweaty and with a huge duffel.  You might feel out of place but people won’t stare at you.

Horace breakfast, Bordeaux Specialty Coffee Guide

For breakfast, I chose the local smoked trout with scrambled eggs accompanied by a side of homemade brioche.  The dish hit my high expectations – fresh and plentiful trout, super moist fluffy scrambled eggs, really nice brioche with butter aside it. I also think the price was very fair, especially given its style and Horace's accommodating service (9€).

My next visit was for an afternoon matcha and pastry. The pastries here are a mix of french and "coffee shop pastries" (the latter are mostly the same as at Black Lists')Many are unique and have modern creative twists. I ended up coming too late for the popular fanciful treats and chose the brownie.  Only a sliver was left (which she gave me for free) so I added the caramel financier and madeleine. All perfect!  My last visit was actually just a quick stop to pick up the umbrella I had forgotten, before catching my train. But the pastry bar was too tempting, so I grabbed the salted chocolate chip cookie, to go – maybe one of the best I have every tasted.  Seriously.

However Horace isn’t a coffee shop for food to go or even just a short visit.  It’s made to sit down and enjoy the atmosphere.  The interior is artistic and clean.  The entrance room has an intimate feeling of a wine restaurant, which is contrasted by the wild but sleek and luminous "coffee room".  When I was there Horace was extremely popular and busy. The customers did seem pretty chic, but as a coffee shop it allowed some casuals like me too. So I’d really make the visit, whatever state you are in. It’s worth the experience!

torréfacteur: Lomi from Paris
cafés et boissons: usual espresso drinks, chemex, V60, artisan hot chocolate, matcha latte, chai latte, teas, fresh squeezed juice, local soft drinks, large wine menu, own artisan beer, cidre
pour manger: four breakfasts (two savory, two sweet), daily changing fine lunch and dinner dishes, elaborate afternoon desserts, pastries
mon favorite: smoked trout/scrambled egg breakfast (I didn’t try any others, they’re probably just as good), chocolate chip cookie, brownie
diets: vegetarian options, oat milk
-> 40 Rue Poquelin Molière, 33000 // Mo: 8:30-18:30, Tu-Fr: 9:30-21:30, Sa: 9:30-21:30, Su: 9:30-18:30

L’Alchimiste

I find that L’Alchimiste contrasts the other coffee shops in Bordeaux. L’Alchimiste is the only spot  with a clean, bright scandinavian interior. Their coffee bar looks more like a spotless lab, which it is for the baristas. Upstairs, is the second room, which is a dim, " cozy, tasting room".  Its jungle wallpaper is designed to remind of the environment where coffee originally comes from.  The last room behind is dedicated to Arthur’s wife.  She is in charge of all the artistic elements in L’Alchimiste’s café and gets this space to present local art exhibitions.

"We are very geeky here", Yohan, the head barista, told me.

"Coffee-Geeky" he means. L’Alchimiste’s team is very passionate about their set up.  They use some of the highest quality tools behind the counter to have their own fun. Arthur, the Bordelaise owner and roaster also dragged them to read Scott Rao’s "coffee bibles".

L’Alchimiste torrefactéur (roaster) is a long-established, highly praised roastery in Bordeaux. They started in early 2014 and still have their roasting quarter in the rebuilt military base, the Darwin complex. That’s worth its own visit.  I just realized that L’Alchimiste has herewith uniquely incorporated the other side of the Garonne!

For many years L'Alchimiste torrefactéur only served Michelin starred restaurants and hotels.  In 2016 they opened this café-boutique. The menu, like the interior, is simple and clean.  Just a handful of espresso drinks with small bites to eat.  However there are two specialities that I would like to highlight.

L'Alchimiste Flat White and Dune Blanches, Bordeaux Specialty Coffee Guide
Flat White and Dune Blanches

1st:  "Dune Blanches" – This is a really famous local treat.  It’s like a cream puff pastry, which I usually don’t like, except that I loved these.  They come from Chez Pascal across the street. The barista will literally go to this cute patisserie, to pick up the little sweet sand dune, whenever you order one.

2nd: Tim Wendelboe’s cold brew – Again I learned something new.  Tim Wendelboe (maybe THE most famous coffee specialist who even owns his own coffee farm) has created a pimped up cold brew recipe.  It’s a V60, cooled down with sugar, served in a wine glass.  L’Alchimiste is the only place in Bordeaux (and of all coffee shops I have ever visited) to try this specialty.

So I wouldn’t leave Bordeaux without giving this chic, clean corner a visit and one of these two specialties a taste!

torréfaction: their own roasts, roasted by the owner Arthur in the Darwin complex (to drink at the café: 2 espresso, 2 filter roasts – both usually single origins; to buy: 5 espressos (of which 2 are blends) and 4-5 filter coffee roasts)
cafés et boissons:  only espresso, cortado, cappuccino, flat white, latte; V60, cold brew, affogato, hot chocolate, teas, artisan soft drinks, fresh squeezed juices
pour manger: pastries from a local artisan bakery, little pizza flat breads, dune blanches
mon favorite: flat white with two dune blanches!
diets: vegetarian options, almond/oat milk
-> 12 Rue de la Vieille Tour, 33000 // Tu-Fr: 8:30-18:00, Sa: 10-18:00

Café Gusco

I paid Café Gusco only one visit, however it was a really wonderful one.  This cute, homely café just opened new in June 2017, by Pauline, a mother and former wine-connoisseur.  She is still new to the specialty coffee but has high goals.  In the back office, stands the cutest red roaster that I have ever seen.  Here she roasts everything by herself, next to being Gusco’s barista, owner, manager and a full-time mom (of GUStav and COlombe).

Pauline felt really bad that her latte art skills weren’t perfect yet when I was there.  Though at that moment I could really care less about the latte art. In a way it made my stay at Café Gusco even more charming. I accompanied it by a fluffy french madeleine made my her friend Amelia, and sat outside on the calm plaza, amongst big sheltering trees.

So if you’re looking for great coffee in a very familial, french café, and want your peace in a calm atmosphere, Café Gusco is perfect.

torréfaction: her own roasts, roasted in the back (one medium espresso roast, 3 single origin filter roasts)
cafés et boissons:  espresso, cappuccino, flat white, latte, V60, Chemex, teas, organic local juices/smoothies/iced tea, fresh squeezed orange juice
pour manger: granola with fromage blanc, homemade french cakes/pastries
diets: vegetarian options, soy milk
-> 2 Rue Ligier, 33000 // Mo: 8-14:30, Tu-Fr: 8-18:00, Sa: 9-12:00

La Pelle

La Pelle Café and Roastery is a a specialty coffee shop that the touring coffee geeks miss. It’s located in the wine-merchant district, a 20min walk north of the main coffee hub in the old town. This district, Chartrons, feels a bit like its own village.

Their strength is specialty coffee, especially filter coffee. Theo, the barista, loves filter coffee.  He is waiting to introduce the rest of the world to its diverse flavour, aroma and body. At the moment the French still think of this drink as "your old grandmas coffee, strong black, with a lot of fine sparkles in the coffee". Theo educates his customers and hopes that their view of filter coffee will change soon. At La Pelle you can choose from five to six filter roasts (all roasted right in the back) for eight filter methods.  But no worries, if you’re still a beginner. This passionate barista is waiting to advise you and can find the best method and roast for your palate.

torréfaction: their own roasts, roasted by Carlos, the brazilian-owner, in the back (3 espresso roasts, all single origin, 5 or more filter roasts)
cafés et boissons:  all espresso drinks, also decaffeinated, Siphon, St. Anthony, big and small Chemex, Kalita Wave, Kinto, V60, Aeropress, cold brew, affogato, beetroot/matcha/chai latte, hot chocolate, teas, soft drinks, fresh squeezed orange juice, wine, beer, ginger beer
pour manger: breakfast, brunch, lunch, pastries
diets: vegetarian options, a veggie milk too (sorry, I forgot which one)
-> 29 Rue Notre Dame, 33000 // Tu-Fr: 8:30-18:00, Sa-Su: 10-18:00

Banana Café

I already informed my blog readers in depth about this awesome gluten-free café, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t make it into Bordeaux’s specialty coffee guide.  Banana Café was opened by Kelly, from London, and her boyfriend Thibault, from Angouleme, France.  He’s the lover of specialty coffee, whilst she is to thank for this wonderful culture clash in Bordeaux. At Banana Café, you will have specialty coffee alongside amazing food and pastries, that suit all diets.  It is completely legitimized to work here for hours, but a just as great spot to meet up with friends. Still the atmosphere is unpretentious, and suited for any type. You can dine on local chicken and fish, as well as enjoy gluten-free, refined sugar free and vegan meals here.  All dishes are made fresh, as local and organic as possible and taste divine.

torréfacteur: Lomi in Paris
cafés et boissons:  usual espresso drinks, mocca, dirty chai latte, Mexican hot chocolate, matcha/spirulina/charcoal/turmeric latte, fresh juices and smoothies, detox waters, teas, gf beers, wines
pour manger: pancakes, granola, tons of pastries like superfood bread, banana bread, gingerbread, daily changing lunch dishes for all diets, savory lunches to go, Sunday Brunch
mon favorite: all so good… but the brownies, mexican hot chocolate and turmeric latte maybe
diets: all gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options,  oat/almond/hazelnut/coconut-rice milk
-> 5 Cours Pasteur, 33000 // Tu-Sa: 10-18:00, Su: 10-17:00

Oven Heaven (opening in Jan. 2018)

I don't know much about Oven Heaven.  But a look online and my few messages with Dimitri, the specialty coffee roaster behind the project, make me sure that this collaboration will be amazing. Here the brothers Dimitri and Kevin will combine their two passions in one fine atelier. The first passion is roasting specialty coffee, of which Dimitri is in charge of.  For many years he was a head trainer at Padre Coffee in Melbourne. This Australian coffee shop is also where his future head barista, Gabriel Comtois, practiced his craft many years. The second passion is french chef pastries. Dimitri's brother Kevin is in charge of this part.  I obviously haven't tried anything yet, but what I have seen online makes my mouth water.

P.S.  if you are interested in a glass floor, through which you can watch these fine patisseries be made then head over to their crowdfunding campaign!

torréfaction: Oven Heaven, their own roastery, 3 single origin roasts, one blend
cafés et boissons:  usual espresso drinks, batch brew, V60, teas from Neo-T (Paris), French juices from Kookaburra, chai from La Main Noie (Paris)
pour manger: fine french patisseries, seasonal pastries, french breakfast pastries, savory snacks and lunches (sandwiches, tarts, soups)
mon favorite: I unfortunately haven't tried anything yet but judging by the photos the chocolate tarte looks amazing!
diets: vegetarian options, oat milk
-> 51 Cours de la Marne, 33800


Well congrats if you have made it to here. There isn't much left to say. Well, maybe yes – a few more specialty coffee shops exist in town, that I haven't mentioned (Michel Ma Belle, Verde Nero). Feel free to check those out for me and tell me what you think! I decided to stay with the above, because they were just my definite favorites.

I am very curious to revisit Bordeaux in the next following years.  What new places will open and how will they integrate themselves into the loving, miraculous specialty coffee scene that already exists?  I think that any further expansion will just make it richer. However I am happy there weren't more for me to explore this fall, otherwise this post never would have realized itself.

Thank you again to all of Bordeaux, to the coffee bloggers, all amazing baristas, roasters, pastry chefs, and cooks for welcoming me at your coffee shop like it was my home! Thinking back of every visit makes me smile 🙂

continue

Specialty Coffee Shops in Bordeaux Pt. 1

“I fell in love with Bordeaux”

I don’t like phrasings like “I fell in love with Bordeaux”.  But I can’t think of a more fitting one to describe how much I like Bordeaux. After being here on eight different occasions, ranging from four hours to nine days I feel like it has become my second home town. Half the time I was schlepping my duffel from Black List to Piha. The other half of the time I lived in four different homes. There I got to bike, bus, or take the boat into the old town center, aka the hotspot for specialty coffee shops in Bordeaux.

I also jogged along the Garonne, went shopping at La Recharge (the waste-free grocery shop) and recommended tourists, as well as locals, some hidden spots. However what made me feel most at home was the specialty coffee shops in Bordeaux.  They were very personal and welcoming, though not pushy – only friendly in an unpretentious way. The fast internet, cool coffee books and delicious meals (and flat whites and matcha of course) gave me an excuse to come again and again.

Aussie breakfast: banana bread, flat with, granola, orange juice
Aussie breakfast at . . . wait for the next post to see where!

Every specialty coffee shop in Bordeaux deserves its own post.

But then Bordeaux would be ahead of Hamburg on my blog. (Not that I would ever finish these entries before exploring Toulouse, Montpellier, Lyon and Basel.)  So I will:

  1. talk about the specialty coffee scene in general, by comparing it to Hamburg
  2. go into detail, about each individual coffee shop, sharing their best features and my favorite memories

If you opened this page to read a precise, informative, coffee-based article about all nine specialty coffee shops (for now) in Bordeaux then you're wrong.  I wrote that article on European Coffee Trip. But still, stay with me please, my observations are interesting 😉



Bordeaux vs. Hamburg

Supposedly it rains every third day or something in Bordeaux. That wasn't true for my visits.  The locals also don't seem to be used to rain.  One time it drizzled everybody was hiding under store fronts and their faces were like they just ate a tomato.  Hamburger's are tougher than that.  But still . . .

Bordeaux reminded me of Hamburg in many ways.

  • second biggest town in the country
  • a handful of coffee shops compared to the capital, but enough to explore for weeks
  • kind of chic
  • residents that cling to their hometown

However the specialty coffee shops showed their differences.

I told everybody how similar these cities are.  How the Bordelaise should come to Hamburg, they would love it.  How my family and friends should come to Bordeaux.  However I also liked noticing all the differences. I mostly did this by comparing their specialty coffee shops. Only after the following analysis I realized what made me fall in love with Bordeaux.  I admired too many parts of its specialty coffee shops.

⇒ They incorporate french culture into 3rd wave expectations.

Ever heard of Raclette at a specialty coffee shop?  Well go to Bordeaux, and you can be served one next to a perfect flat white. These cafés manage to incorporate the french culture in the modern third wave coffee scene.  You’ll always find formule breakfasts (juice-coffee-pastry), local products and traditional pastries.

Matcha Latte and French pastries
Matcha Latte with (right to left) a madeleine, caramel financier, the last sliver of brownie

They rarely make avocado toasts with poached egg.  In HAMBURG, the only customary specialty coffee shop item is a NY cheesecake with homemade strawberry sauce.  That’s not even German.  At most Balz and Balz is comparable to this Bordelaise feature. Their open-faced sandwiches and sheet cakes represent the local culture within a qualitative third wave manner.  Or maybe Milch too, they serve Fischbrötchen!

Picking up on this point: truite fumée and œufs brouillés. That’s like the Bordelaise, lavish coffee shop breakfast. Nobody serves salmon here.  It looks like they do, but the salty red fish is actually trout, local and different. Regarding eggs, you'll find a few poached ones, but more popular are these fluffy, moist scrambled eggs.  It’s worth a try at every spot (SIP, Horace, Café Laiton). They all have their own twists.

⇒ You can dine sophisticated meals at the specialty coffee shops in Bordeaux.

Now you could conclude to my next point already. Though the specialty coffee shops in Bordeaux are small and personal, they serve sophisticated meals. The French usually only eat a very petit “petit-dejeuner”. But foreigners' breakfast wishes, that are like mine, will uniquely be please in the Bordelaise coffee shops. However you might want to wait for lunch. Lunch is legit in France.  Most dishes change daily or weekly. They can be accompanied by wine or beer.  And sometimes you get the option of a formula, which adds an appetizer/dessert. Sometimes its the only choice. In HAMBURG, if a coffee shop offers something savory, it’s usually sandwiches, bagels or quiches.  Maybe Balz and Balz again, would be the best exception.  They offer a sophisticated, sit-down lunch with changing soups daily.

The array of colourful lattes really caught my eye.   

If you know me, you’ll know that I’m a very frequent speciality coffee shop visitor that doesn’t drink coffee. I like to opt for other colored lattes. The majority of the specialty coffee shops in Bordeaux not only offer beetroot or turmeric lattes, but they can also do spectacular latte art in the cup of matcha or artisan hot chocolate. Did I mention: pumpkin spiced latte!

Pumpkin Spice Latte
Pumpkin Spiced Latte at . . . wait for the next post to see where

A drink like that is one of the few reasons I still travel to the US.  If only Europe could give me more of this, I would stay here and travel by train my whole life.  Now back to HAMBURG: If I find Matcha, it is served in tall glasses with foamy pale latte art.  Yes, I know not everything is about the latte art.  But I don’t go to coffee shops because I’m starving to death and need to feed myself in the cheapest possible way.  For me it is the whole experience, which includes an aesthetically appealing drink

Bordelaise coffee shops had a different feel.

Again this might have been me who changed.  I'm "on vacation" and not in my (first) hometown.  However from the owners and baristas to the Bordelaise regulars and foreign customers – I had a more personal experience in the specialty coffee shops in Bordeaux.

Morgan, Black List Café, Bordeaux
Morgan, the cheerful afternoon barista at . . . wait for the next post to see where!
MORE PERSONAL:

The specialty coffee shops in Bordeaux felt more personal. The owners were always behind the counter. That also means that no coffee shop exists twice or three times.  In HAMBURG, many coffee shops are like this too, so no critic them at all. (Nord Coast, Blackline, Balz and Balz, Milch, Tørnqvist, Playground . . .) They are just as lovely.  But many aren't as well. In Bordeaux really every coffee shop has this personal touch.

BETTER FOR LAPTOP WORK:

The passionate owners don’t open their coffee shop as a co-working space.  So these cafés aren’t taken over by bohemian freelancers.  Still, it feels more comfortable to get laptop work done here, than in Hamburg.  In HAMBURG, working on your MacBook is only slowly becoming established. I still often feel out of place unpacking my laptop amidst chatting ladies.

SIP coffee bar, Bordeaux
8:30 in the morning at a Bordelaise coffee bar
MIXED CLIENTELE:

Talking about chatting ladies: That’s the way I noticed myself describe the clientele of most of Hamburg's coffee shops, while I was writing the Hamburg article for European Coffee Trip.  In BORDEAUX you’ll find them too. However I only spotted them in a more widely mixed clientele. There were local seniors, “nobodies” in coffee (aka the average French), families with kids, tourists looking for lunch and middle-aged adults reading the newspaper with a coffee and croissant before work.

Specialty Coffee Shop in Bordeaux
a Tuesday afternoon at . . . wait for the next post see where!
THEY SUPPORT EACH OTHER:

Last but not least, the specialty coffee shops in Bordeaux are really close. The baristas, roasters and owners seem like a tight group of friends. They visit and support each other. I’ve seen Pierre at Horace, and Julie at Café Laiton. Pascal, Gaele and Julie are also slowing starting to use Piha roasts. Black List is taking care of its big younger brother Horace by closing on Sundays. The stylish business cards are finely distributed in each others coffee shops. Yes, remark, they are not stamp cards. Bordelaise don’t come here to cheaply consume, they come to cherish. Lastly, if you were a tourist who didn't read my articles, and needed a tip were to drink a coffee, just go to one of the specialty coffee shops in Bordeaux and they'll give you a list of all your other options.

——————————

I’m not trying to make Hamburg’s coffee scene bad. It’s wonderful. Maybe it's because I live in Hamburg, that Bordeaux's particularities appeal to me  . . . But it's more than a feeling. These facets of the specialty coffee shops in Bordeaux are black on white above. They are the reason why I would recommend anyone to make a longest detour to come here.

However, Hamburg’s coffee shops have some pros too.

You for example can't find ginger or almond cappuccinos in Bordeaux yet.  And I have to admit that I really like NY cheesecake with homemade strawberry sauce.

Less Political in Hamburg, cappuccinos and cheesecake
almond & ginger cappuccino with one of Hamburg's best cheesecakes with homemade strawberry sauce at LESS POLITICAL
VEGAN MILK FOR LATTE ART:

Hamburg’s baristas have long accomplished vegan demands in third wave coffee. ⇔ If BORDEAUX could only find the right vegan milk for latte art.  Then they could make as beautiful hearts as they can with French cow milk.

MORE AFFORDABLE:

Paris is way more expensive than Berlin.  Luckily BORDEAUX is only a bit more expensive than Hamburg.  Although, Bordelaise looks maybe justify the price.  A flat white costs around 4€ in Bordeaux, whilst you can find it for 2,90-3,80€ in Hamburg.

PLENTIFUL VEGAN (AND GF) TREATS:

Coming back to vegan demands: When writing my article for ECT, I remember how Karo, the editor, remarked that I mentioned vegan and gluten-free pastries for almost every café. The FRENCH have some of the best butter.  They like to use it. (Have a tartine at . . . (wait for it), then you’ll know.) It’s extremely hard to find vegan or gluten-free treats along with specialty coffee in this town. Usually Piha bakes one gluten-free and vegan pastry, SIP’s fondant au chocolat is gluten-free and I saw an almond flour cookie at Black List too.  But that’s pretty much all for now.  Solely Banana Café will serve you specialty coffee alongside an array of gluten-free, and sometimes vegan, meals and pastries.

ALLOW A DIGESTIVE WALK:

Lastly, the specialty coffee shops in Bordeaux are densely placed in the old town center. Only La Pelle and Café Laiton allow you a little digestive walk. Though as a tourist, to explore the city, I think it would be cool if there were some specialty coffee shops on the outskirts of town. Like what about on the other side of the Garonne? A bridge apparently isn’t enough to cross a river nowadays.  HAMBURG too is still waiting for Wilhelmsburg or Harburg to host a third waver. However at least the rest of their coffee shops range from cozy Ottensen and the touristy harbor, to posh Winterhude.

But now let me get to the point . . .

Do you want to know where to devour raclette next to flat whites? Where to meet Bordeaux’s coffee bloggers? Where to sip the best matcha lattes? Or where I started loving plain old tartines (bread, butter, jam) for breakfast? Soon I will get more precise.  I had actually wanted to give you all information in this post right here. But now I decided to let us digest this first.  Then we can savour the actual coffee shops with a fresh mind.  Stay tuned!

 

continue

My first experience Wwoofing in France

The main activity I had (and still have) planned for my four months abroad is wwoofing in France.  In this post I will tell you about my experience on my first farm, Ferme d’Olivet. I milked goats by hand, produced goat cheese, kneaded sourdough bread, went on half-day bike rides to neighboring towns and participated in multiple folk festivals.  Of course there were disappointments too, but those quickly turned into lost memories.

Goats on Field, Wwoofing in France

But first to wwoofing in general.  I’m amazed how many people do know what wwoofing is, however I think most people still don’t know.

What is wwoofing?

Wwoofing is especially popular in New Zealand and Australia, however the acronym stands for WorldWide Organization of Organic Farms.  The name says it. It is a worldwide organization and yes there are PLENTY of farms in France, more than 1500. (Because I got this question a lot.) As a wwoofer you work roughly four hours a day, five days a week.  In exchange the farm gives you lodging, food (and some great experiences).

Finding a farm:

There is a wwoofing website, where you make an account and buy a membership for the country you want to wwoof in.  For me that that was France.  It cost 30€ and lasts a year.  Then you can search through all farms, sort by your preference (time, lodging, area, farming activities) and contact the farmers directly.

I messaged four farms for my first stop and got one reply, a rejection.

They wrote:

“Bonjour Anouk

Nous ne prenons que des wwoofer qui parlent français, nous sommes désolé

Norb et Marie.”  

Me, with my very basic school French thought she was smart enough to understand this sentence, so didn’t google translate it.  I thought it meant “Sorry, we don’t take people who don’t speak French”.  So I replied saying that I only barely speak French, not really much at all, so why couldn’t they take me? (Yes I was desperate for a farm at that time.) And the next reply:

 “ok tu peux venir chez nous. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .!!!”. 

Some days later I thought of google translating their first reply, don’t ask me why.  And sure enough I had misunderstood. That original reply meant “Sorry, we only take people who speak French”.  But luckily, I kind of cheated myself in.

Ferme d’Olivet in Reparsac, Charente

 

Ferme d’Olivet is in Reparsac.  That’s a five-street town in the mid-west of France, about two hours north of Bordeaux. The aspects of their farm, that made me want to wwoof there were:

  • the production of goat cheese
  • traditional sourdough bread baking
  • selling veggies on the market
  • that they only spoke french
making goat cheese

Marie and Norbert, both around 50 years old were the two farmers.  They were very kind and funny, although in my opinion too often on their own phone or smoking. I didn’t expect that from old organic farmers on the country side.   We didn’t communicate much, but our short conversations were entertaining and cheerful.  Norbert taught me the word “truc” (“thing”), to describe anything.

wwoofers and farmers, Wwoofing in France

There was one other wwoofer, that stayed all the time I did, Frederica from the Northwest of France.  She translated all my jobs into a slow and very articulated French that I could decipher.  Two other French wwoofers where there part of the time, Miche from Paris, and Murielle from Brittany, France.  We had our own little house, “across the courtyard”, with bathroom, kitchen, bedrooms and a living room.  The farm was like one big ring of houses that included the bakery, the two homes, the cheese and goat houses, car shacks and so on.

Ferme d'Olivet, wwoofing in France

Our working shifts were a bit wishy washy. There were a few routines, like milking the goats daily, but many other aspects changed. We got up at 8:00, and worked from 9-13:00. Lunch was at 14:00 and then we were free till 19:00 when we had to milk goats again. Lastly we ate dinner together again around 21:00. Below I will give you an example of what a day could look like. (Although to be honest, it’s probably more a mix and match of different days)

8:15 Breakfast

We had to be in the kitchen at 8:15 for breakfast although Marie and Norb usually weren’t even there themselves. I still don’t get why, but whatever . . .  The first two days I “suffered” through our sourdough bread with tasteless margarine and homemade jam – that’s really not my thing 😉  However one day we baked 800 apple tarts for a folks festival. I crammed out my Justin’s Maple Almond Butter to top them off.  Tada, my breakfasts for the next week were covered. Then we baked pain aux raisins and brioche. Those satisfied my taste buds with goat cheese and homemade jams.  However all of this is not a criticism of the farm, it’s just my lifestyle.  The other French wwoofers were more than happy with their tartines (toasted bread, “butter”, jam).  Marie and Norb only chose a bowl of black coffee with sugar for the morning hours.

9:00 Milking the Goats, in the Chevrerie (at 19:00 a second time)

Every day, we milked the goats at 9 o’clock.  We first had six milking goats. Then one caught her head and strangled herself in the field . . . I’m not joking.  So in the second week we only had five left. We milked them all by hand.  At first that was kind of gross and very difficult.  I was convinced there was no milk in the goat, but my practiced fellow wwoofers proved me wrong.  Sure enough after two weeks my hand and lower arm muscles were much stronger and I was a pro of squeezing every last drop out.  At the end I loved this job. I would even make sure to be awake in time on the weekends to help.

Milking Goats, wwoofing in France

9:15 Bring Goats out to the Field 

After milking the goats we brought them onto the field.  It wasn’t easy to get them into their right fencing, but important, because fall is dating season.  So Leon and Ïami, the two bucks had to be in two different fields, each with some datable female goats. Komalik, the grand mother, Biscotte and Ida, the two kids went in a seperate third field.  Despite the order, it didn’t seem like everyone knew who was supposed to date who. One day Komalik started hopping on top of the two young ones.

9:45 Preparing Goat Cheese, in the Fromagerie 

I was really excited about this part.  If you know me well, you’ll know that I love to eat vegan, but am just as enthusiastic about any strong farm cheeses.  Making goat cheeses ended up being much simpler than I thought, but the outcome was as delicious as I hoped. This was the process:

  • 1st day: add fermentation liquid (2 drops per one liter) and whey (two ladles per liter) to the goat milk
  • 2nd day: scoop the thick, pudding textured goat “milk” into plastic pots (about 10cm high)
  • 3rd day: salt from the top (let’s call this side A and the other side, side B )
  • 4th day: salt side A again, flip the (now 3 cm high) block of goat cheese onto your hand, and drop it into the plastic pot from the other side, salt side B
  • 5th day: salt side B, flip onto your hand and put it onto the metal grid the other side around again, salt side A
  • 6th day: salt side A, flip the other side around, salt side B
  • 7th day: salt side B again and transfer into the fridge1

After transferring them into the fridge we could wait however long we wanted for an either “plus fraîche” (younger) or “plus vieux” (older) goat cheese. I liked them in all stages of ripening.  The fresh ones, after seven days, were like the perfect cream cheese. The smaller, old ones were great for salads or by themself. There was also another Tomme de Chevre that Marie made, but we weren’t part of that process. The fermentation process was done on the stove with warmer temperatures.  This made the final cheese a bit more spongy-dense, not so soft and creamy.

1Back to part about putting them in the fridge after 7 days of salting and flipping. To be honest, I don’t think the fridge was any colder than the rest of the room. Maybe it was just a way of organizing.  The fromagerie was so chilly that I always ran to put on all layers I had, plus a vest, scarf, and hat before we came to work there. Marie and Frederica made fun of me asking where I had forgotten my skis, haha 😉

10:00 Coffee Break

I had explained to the other wwoofers, what I was doing typing on my computer all of the first afternoons.  I was working on my Specialty Coffee Guide for Bordeaux, on European Coffee Trip.  So in our coffee break, they at first didn’t quite make sense of why I didn’t want to drink any of their black coffee 😉 However now they know what specialty coffee is too!

Cinnamon Latte, wwoofing in France

What I made instead was my FALL SPICED-GOATIE LATTE.  I’m just trying to make it sound fancy.  All it was, was about 2/3 cup of boiling water mixed with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger plus 1/3 cup of fresh goat milk.

10:30 Cleaning the goat house

This could range anywhere from 15 min to a few hours.  Some days we just swiped the floor and filled up the drinking buckets.  Other days we had to remove all the stinky, dense hay-poop layers that where pounded onto the floor by the goats.  Boy, when I lifted those stacks with the pitchfork, it was literally steaming from below.  Luckily I know how to not breath through my nose for some hours, to just ignore the smell. It was quite disgusting and strenuous.  Still I had fun, because you could really feel the success.  I like that kind of work (where you feel like you have done something I mean, not the stink 😉 ).

Cleaning Goat House, wwoofing in France

11:00 Picking Veggies in the Garden

Marie’s garden wasn’t on the actual Ferme d’Olivet. It was about 500 meters away, in the town of Reparsac.  Here she grew apples, pears, peaches, quinces and the whole array of ground veggies. The only ones we picked were tomatoes, green beans and zucchini. One day we also did a big garden clean that took a few hours. We dug new rows and planted seeds for the next season.

Big Zucchinis, wwoofing in France
Frederica found some big zucchinis!

12:00 Peel Tomatoes & Co.

After picking the veggies, we sometimes had to process them too.  Working with the tomatoes was definitely my least favoured job.  I seriously detest fresh tomatoes, the stench makes me feel sick.  Picking them was doable, but peeling them for an hour was the opposite of pleasant.  We dropped them into boiling water, then peeled off the skin, cut off all the moldy spots (of which there were a lot) and cut them into large chunks for making jars and jars of tomato sauce or ratatouille, that Marie then sterilized to keep for the winter.  She did the same with lots of her fresh veggies.

So so, that might have been an average weekly morning on the farm.  Around 13:00 we were pretty much finished for the day. However some days were special, like Wednesday.  Wednesday was market day.

The Bakery & Market Day

One reason why I chose this farm to wwoof was the “selling at the market” aspect.  It turns out that the market was their bakery room.  We sold our veggies (along with some from neighboring farms), the goat cheese, sourdough bread and sometimes pastries. About ten to fifteen people came.  It wasn't the same as selling on a real French market, but this was lots of fun too.

That means Wednesday’s work looked quite different.  After taking care of the goats and cheese Marie didn’t really give us any obligatory jobs.  But technically they never said we were off for the day, so we hung around the kitchen waiting if we could help.  I was interested in how Marie made the sourdough bread, so I asked and one Wednesday I got to be part of the whole process.  She let me weigh and kneed all the breads.  Another Wednesday Norb made brioche and pain aux raisins.  He didn’t really need much of help though, but just watching, taking pictures and eating the results was nice too 🙂

My daily afternoons:

At first the afternoons were kind of boring.  Once I had finished my article for European Coffee Trip one run didn’t entertain me the whole afternoon. Luckily, soon enough I discovered a sound bike in their collection of about 30 rusty ones.  The next afternoons I started biking to neighboring towns, like Jarnac and Cognac. It was 8-12 12 each way, and the scenery was beautiful. I passed through vineyards, little pine forests and rode over bridges and hills, all whilst staring at the spectacular clouds in the sky.  When I arrived I treated myself with a local patisserie, walked through the old alleways and took pictures.  That’s all it needs to make me happy.

Jarnac

I went to Jarnac three times.  It was the home town of François Mitterand, France’s president from 1981-1995.  One day I went there with Frederica, my fellow wwoofer.  We checked out the whole town, bought pastries and I found a little bio store with Karma Kombucha and fresh carrots (I was missing some fresh, raw veggies on the farm).  The second time I went by myself.  It was beautifully sunny, so I tried the bakery’s homemade ice cream – “fait à la maison”, like almost everything in France.  I obviously took the local flavor cognac-raisin. It was awesome, as well as the pistachio, my new ice cream favorite.

ice cream, wwoofing in France

This was also the first chance I had, since arriving on the farm, to take pictures of an instagrammable treat 😉 So it was time to make this ice cream into a french styled, dainty sundae. I chose a chocolate praline and cookie (all homemade by the bakery too) to top the scoops off – tada!

Cognac

Yes, Cognac is the town where Cognac is made.  But I didn’t come here for the Cognac.  I actually rode here on a Saturday morning and spent the day.  This town is a bit larger than Jarnac and had some nice old buildings, but again not too much too offer.  My day started at the local market. I bought fruit for the next farm breakfasts some oysters to snack on immediately.

Then I took a long stroll through the parks, and came back for an afternoon hot chocolate and fondant au chocolat in a little café.  This was my first fondant au chocolat in France. It definitely wasn’t the best, but not knowing exactly what to expect, I loved it.  It was like a brownie, filled with brownie batter.

This same Saturday evening, it turned out that the farmers went out for dinner.  So Frederica and I would have dinner to ourselves. We were a bit fed up of eating the same cold cucumber-tuna-orzo every day and looked forward to our chance of a change. However I imagined home cooking, while she wanted to go to a cute little “Epicerie” that she spontaneously spotted earlier that day.  First I only wanted to spend money on my instagrammble ice cream treats, and not on eating dinner out at "any random place".  Still I came, and it was great! This cute little “Epicerie” ended up being in Cognac. I had actually even spied it out for lunch that day, but it was closed at that hour. We had a fine French dinner.  It cost 35€ but was a full spectacular menu with four courses and wine.

Three different “Folk” Festivals

"12KM EVENING MARCH"

⇒ The first “folk festival” I participated in was a 12km evening march through the neighborhood towns of my farm.  It started at 19:30 and included five stops for the dinner courses.  First came an aperitif, then the appetizer, next the main meal (steak & fries, yay!), then French pre-dessert, cheese, and lastly dessert.  The food was quite French, meaning every meal had cheese or meat.  Nothing really tasted great. Still I enjoyed it all. From the way the people acted around me to the dancing locals with live folk music it all felt very French.  Marching through the vineyards and marshes in the dark, late at night was fun too. Yes, we arrived at the last stop shortly before midnight.  This last stop wasn’t just any stop though, it was my farm!  We wwoofers actually made the roughly 800 apple tarts with Marie and Norb, since 7am in the morning.  So luckily the long meal ended with a good treat!

 

FESTIVAL DES ARTS ET JEUX

⇒ Another event, on a neighboring farm, was called Festival des Arts et Jeux. It had some boutique stands, other ones to inform and teach, and more with activities and games.  My farm helped out by baking patisseries, sourdough bread and pizza, (with mustard instead of tomato sauce, mushrooms, trout, olives and goat cheese) for their food area. Marie also had her own both, where she sold goat cheese.  I didn’t have to help, so I benefited from being a free guest here.

First I went to the “My Secret Garden” stand.  Here I had to write down 26 personal words, from A to Z, of my “secret inner garden”.  Afterwards everybody painted their favorite on the concrete – I chose my “g” word, which was gourmande. Short anecdote:

Three people, independently from one another, called me a “gourmande" here on the country side in France.  I guess its similar as if people in the US would call me a foodie.  However in the US I feel like it is in relationship with blogs and instagram, whereas “gourmande” in France is a more sophisticated long-existing version. In Germany, I don’t think people have an adequate adjective like this. It’s just not part of the culture.  I think, only because the French are traditionally gourmandes themselves, they have the awareness of this property and used that adjective on me.  But I like it 🙂

Back to the Festival des Arts et Jeux.  The next booth I visited taught about waste in the modern world.  An average French wastes 63€ yearly, on bread they throw away.  So at the end the two ladies shared their pudding recipes for stale bread with me.  Then us wwoofers relaxed in the sun before heading back to milk the goats. We came back afterwards, in time for me to try a farm-veggie galette while listening to the local French band singing American folk music.

JARDIN RESPECTUEUX

⇒ One further “event” I went to was in a large community garden from the non-profit environmental association called Jardin Respectueux. It’s like a local jungle in the town of Cognac. Art and nature are combined to guide and teach visitors how to live consciously with the environment today.  Every Thursday, all summer long they had a pizza party. For that, my farm brought the goat cheese. Thus, the connection how I ended up being incorporated in their last, special pizza night.

The members of the Jardin Respectueux organized a social play that was supposed to portray our society today.  Every guest had their own little hollow pumpkin with “money” (pumpkin seeds).  On the “auction”, that was organized before dinner, one could buy “words” with the pumpkin seeds.  If another person said the word that somebody bought, he would have to give them some of their money . . .  At the end a “revolt” was planned were the guests were supposed to overthrow the “banks” of the “capitalist rulers” (those were the members of the Jardin Respectueux who organized this). – Again, the whole evening was quite an exciting French experience.  Even though my mom’s pizza tastes worlds better, I couldn’t have eaten it in this environment with drunk French wine drinkers dancing Cancan. 😉

Two Day Excursion to Aurelie’s vineyard

The Jardin Respectueux is also where I met Aurelie.  Her family owns the organic GUY Pinard vineyard, along with the little, organic La Goule brewery.  She offered me to stay at her place a few nights to get to know another “farm” life.  Marie and Norb were totally fine with it.  So “Pourquoi pas? ”  I’m really glad I went. It was a great change of food, people and atmosphere.

The mornings I had to myself.  Here is the first time where I got to try oil pulling, an ayuverdic detoxification procedure, where you swirl oil through your mouth 15min in the morning after getting up.  I had just read on the gratitude daily blog the day before. (This has nothing to do with the vineyard though, incase I’m confusing you.  Just a side comment on my mornings.) After a sanitized mouth I peacefully ate breakfast.  Those included fresh pastries from the local bakery with figs and pears from the garden.

Whenever I was ready I went to help the brother on the vineyard, and the grandma prepare lunch for all.  The lunches were great.  The whole group of around 10 winemakers and beer brewers came together at 12:30 for a social feast. Our home-cooked multi course lunches awaited them. The first day it was melon, wrapped in Serrano, baguettes with great butter and salt, then ratatouille with grilled sausages, next a green salad with vinagirette, second to last the platter of cheeses and for dessert a fluffy apple cake. That recipe was surprisingly easy, and the outcome was a simple but seriously delicious.  Something that "plain cake" eaters and crazy pastry fans like me both enjoy.

In the afternoons I was allowed to help however much I wanted, and chose that timing by when I wanted to escape for a run. Aurelie and her daughter were back home in the evening.  That is when I spent time with them in their adorable pink-yellow-blue kitchen.  We had home-baked tartiflette with simple French salads for dinner. Afterwards I played dolls with the daughter and read night-time stories (although she was the one who read, my French wasn’t sufficient 😉 ).

Those two days gave me a great to insight into how a vineyard works.  I got to see all I needed, helped a bit, and learned some great dishes that I want to recook when I’m back home.  Still, when I came back to Ferme d’Olivet, I felt like I had arrived at home again.

 

Conclusion of my first time wwoofing in France:  

My first wwoofing farm wasn’t perfect, but thinking back to it makes me smile.  I felt welcomed like at home, and got to experience a great array of different things.  Nothing is perfect, so I should maybe stop complaining about the cold cucumber-orzo salad and only name the wonderful parts:

• • •

The way Norb and Marie lit up when I wanted to learn more things.

The way they smirked when they told me a bunch of stuff and I understood nothing. 

Literally getting stronger in milking goats every daily.

Savouring every different version of our goat cheese at different ripening levels.

Eating real, multi-course lunches (instead of brunch and linner, which is my usual lifestyle).

Kneading bread with Marie on Wednesday for the market.

Participating in the “folk-festivals” and encountering other French people.

Beautiful bike rides to Jarnac and Cognac.

The pink-yellow-light blue kitchen in Aurelie’s home on the vineyard.

Evening runs through the rolling wine hills.

Living a French life . . .

. . . and not being able to escape it any more than with my almond butter, was great.  I love to admire different cultures, and am happy that they still exist in this globalized world. The French one includes people dancing Cancan to folk-music. I thought that only existed in movies. Secondly, living here and not acting like a tourist, is where I started to realize the French gourmandise.  Although not all gourmandes favor the same foods as me, all French are gourmandes at heart.  That is enough to fascinate me.

Goat, wwoofing in France


Picture Creds: Miche, the other wwoofer (and me)

continue

brownie, chocolate cake, mexican hot chocolate

Gluten-Free in Bordeaux: BANANA Café

Banana Café is a 100% gluten-free café in Bordeaux, that serves sweet and savory food all day long.  The homemade lunch dishes and chocolate treats are made to taste any diet.  This eatery brings the international food trends to Bordeaux, whilst stays a local-hidden secret. It feels like a homely and cheerful lounge and is perfect to meet up friends, work or just chill.

interior Banana Café

The "real" blog post below, first comes my Diary of Visits to Banana Café

June 11th: I am travelling from Arcachon to Moliets Plage, and planned a 3h layover in Bordeaux to have breakfast at the specialty coffee shop Black List. However, on my way there, I get a glimpse of another amazing looking café: Banana Café.  The charming blue La Marzocco, flourishing green plants and a cheerful, open interior lure me in to check out their menu.  The vitrine is full of chocolate goodies in all dietary variations.  Below them are fresh and healthy lunch options to go.  Next I open the menu and spot five medicine lattes. Black List, Banana Café, Black List, Banana Café . . . ? Ok, I definitely have to make any possible detour to Bordeaux to enjoy Banana Cafe to its full extent.  Because despite all of this, I will stay with the plan and go to Black List. (which was also awesome 😉.

June 13th:  I'm coming back from Moliets Plage to Paris: the chance to go to Banana Café!  Indecisiveness as always – between 1. banana bread with homemade almond butter, 2. ewe milk yogurt with granola, or 3. one of the pancakes.  Ok, I'll ask, as I always do, what she recommends. Pancakes with seasonal fruits it is! They are delicious – basic, but very well executed, fluffy, soft and with the right sweetness.

When paying at the counter I just can't resist but to take along a chocolate patisserie, and choose the cookie.  It first gets a photo session in the speeding SNCF to Paris. So the first bite is put off quite a bit, but once I have it I am speechless.  The cookie is gooey, rich, soft, but with a slight crunch outside and nomnomnom . . . At the same time I am trying not to get the soft, melted interior over my camera and phone.  // But whatever would have happened, it doesn’t matter. Sometimes an awesome home-baked goodie is all you need to make your day.  

August 8th: I am back in France, now at the beginning of my four months abroad and I can't wait to go to Banana Café.  But they are closed!  // Now I know why:  The owners were busy on the coast, running Banana cafés’ predecessor, a food truck on the surfers coast.  A few days later I left to the coast as well, to volunteer at the Vegan Surf Camp. 

September 2nd: My surf season in Moliets Plage is over 3,5 weeks later, so I am obviously back in Bordeaux, but Banana Café is still closed! 🙁

September 24: I am back in Bordeaux after my first wwoofing farm. It is Sunday, 2pm and I'm off to get Lunch at Café Laiton (out of lunch), Munchies! (closed) ll Meneghino (closed), BANANA CAFÉ (only 23€ brunch menu or lunches to go), Personne n'est Parfait (closed), Cafe Piha (closed), Black List (closed), Horace (out of lunch), Le Monologue (closed). Wow, what a culture, that is Bordeaux!  So back to Banana Café, maybe a lunch "to go" isn't so bad after all.  And no, it's awesome!  Delicious and in a wonderful relaxed, unpretentious atmosphere. 

Protein Salad and Juice

Hmm, I still have a few hours to chill in Bordeaux before I meet my couch surfer. But with my 100kg duffel bag I don't really want to move.  I'm definitely gonna try the mexican hot chocolate, and a dessert. I ask the pastry chef to help I decide between the raw brownie, vegan brownie, normal brownie, moelleux au chocolat, and chocolate cookie (that I know is damn good).  After maybe five minutes of patiently explaining me the chemical differences of them, I still can't decide between the normal brownie and spongy chocolate cake (moelleux au chocolate).  So she offers me half-half of both!  – Both taste particular, with a light and nutty texture.  They are different from the usual chocolate pastry, but just as scrumptious. The moelleux au chocolate has a slight crunch on the outside and a tender center.  It is a bit more chocolatey than the brownie.  I like the juicy raisin side taste of the brownie though too.  It gives it the spongy moistness in a very unique way. And the mexican hot chocolate tastes just as piquant as the ones I had in Mexico, superb!

September 26:  Kelly and Thibault, the owning couple, are back from London so I get the chance to learn the background of Banana Café, and start this blog post with a mind-powering blue-spirulina latte and immunity energy ball.

spirulina latte and immunity ball

OWNERS: Kelly Banks and Thibault Outters

Kelly is originally from London and used to work in the music industry, like her parents. Thibault, a former engineer, is from Angoulême, the “BD festival town”, two hours north of Bordeaux.  They met in 2012.  Thibault was on his way to India for his job, Kelly decided to quit hers to come along. Then he did the same. He had enough working for an industry and wanted to do something independent.

Back in France Thibault’s surf-vacation home in Les Landes was slowly decaying in the forest. So after India, they decided to renovated it all by themselves, in the traditional way. The project took a bit longer than expected but after 1,5 years this traditional clay-mud-hay shack turned into charming little “Charlot home”, that is now a rentable vacation house.

They love good vibes, good music, good life, and good food.  So while renovating they decided to also open a food truck on Thibault’s surfing beach, Contis Plage. Out of the yellow VW, Le Cofrab, they still serve fresh burgers (local meat, veggie and vegan), salads, specialty coffee (from Piha), matcha latte and local soft drinks every summer.  However, eventually Kelly needed that city element back. Coming from London, she missed to live around a vibey café scene.

“. . . with great food, and good coffee at the same time, where you can just sit and do work for hours but also eat again and meet people, that kind of cultural element . . .” 

Additionally, they wanted to share their passion with people from a more cosmopolitan area, who might appreciate the food’s origin and quality more. So Kelly travelled between Melbourne, London and Berlin to study for this project and be able to do it properly.  She also had a short intense course on naturopathic medicine.  In February 2017 Banana Café opened.

gluten-free café in Bordeaux: Banana Café entrance

GLUTEN FREE – local, organic, flexitarian

Banana café doesn’t feel like just “one of those cafés” with various chocolate goodies and healthy lunches. Banana café is actually 100% gluten free, due to Kelly’s intolerance. For her it’s also not special that everything is either local or organic. She wouldn’t speak about this for hours, because it’s something that “should just be obvious, should just be normal”. They also decide to omit refined sugar here.

First I thought that the dishes were predominantly vegan, but they actually serve all diet preferences. Thus, friends from around the world, can happily eat here together.  The weekly vegan dish is their famous vegan corn wrap. Lentils with parsley, piment coulis and veggies are held together by the soft, homemade corn tortilla. The chef crafts different vegetarian, fish and meat dishes weekly, adapted to the seasons. However the animal products still aren’t served without thought.  On the menu you can read where they source them from.  One week it was: "Porc de La Ferme Vignal " and "Tartare de Poisson de nos côtes au verge "

For their spectacular selection of drinks you can choose between four different vegan milks. There is also dairy – however only ewe (baby sheep) dairy (in french: brebis). So the granola is served with brebis yogurt and a vegetarian polenta with brebis crème fraîche.

FOOD – all day long

Now when in the day does one eat here?  The gluten-free café in Bordeaux is open roughly from 10-18:00 (Sundays till 17:00) and serves food all day long.  This is a great plus if you decide to have lunch a bit later than the French.  After 2pm it’s a treasure hunt to find any service in Bordeaux.

Breakfast includes fresh fruity pancakes, superfood bread with homemade almond butter and soon also smoothie bowls. From noon till 3pm they serve warm, legit lunch dishes, like the French are used too.  But you can really come here at any time of the day and find sweet and savory snacks “sur place” or “à emporter”.

gluten-free vegan corn wrap
Before catching the train for a day trip to Arcachon bay, I grabbed my lunch to go from Banana Café.  In Arcachon, I rented a bike, rode to Dune du Pyla, walked through the sand, swam in the Atlantic and then couldn't have had a more perfect lunch than this vegan corn wrap 😛

Every Sunday Kelly and Thibault also host a spectacular brunch till 5pm, with especial playlists curated by their DJ.  Last weeks menu included a fresh juice, specialty coffee, superfood bread with avocado pesto, hummus, and an egg or white beans, plus savory topped polenta pancakes with a salad.

DRINKS – specialty coffee, black magic latte, gluten-free beer

Banana Café La Marzocco

Their drink menu is spectacular.  Thibault is a “coffee freak” and they both did a barista training in Paris. So the espresso drinks can compete with Bordeaux’s specialty coffee scene, and their eye-catching La Marzocco might even win the competition of style. Kelly and Thibault customized it in various shades of blue at their local car garage. Their roasts come from Lomi in Paris, and occasionally from new and upcoming roasters in London, that Kelly picks up whenever she is there.  However Kelly is most into the medicine lattes.  The selection is better than I have seen anywhere in Europe: turmeric, coconut matcha, blue spirulina, charcoal, mexican hot chocolate.

“I love all of that, that’s kind of me. Cause I don’t always want to have a coffee but maybe I do want to have a latte and I also would like to think about putting something into my body that is good for me, that makes me happy . . . but also really having a nice kind of [feeling like] ‘oh you’re having a latte’. I love that, I think that’s really cool.” 

Blue Moon Spirulina Latte

Otherwise they have detox shots, fresh daily juices and smoothies that range from green-spinach-pea to peanut butter-protein. If you need a more sophisticated drink with your lunch, they also offer wine and gluten-free beer.

VIBE – unpretentious and homely

Banana Café’s first room shares the bar area, which is a jungle of pastries, jars of granola, -tea, -popcorn and some selected local business cards.  The room behind feels like an outside interior: old mosaic floors, massive beige “Pierre” stone walls and the light floods in from way above.

Banana Café has a vibe that makes you feel homely and welcomed, no matter how, when or with whom you come. I have only been here alone, but never felt the slightest bit uncomfortable.

Work on your laptop without being spied on. Take five minutes to decide what you order, till she offers you half-half of both (brownie & moelleux au chocolat).  Charge your phone halfway across the room.  Come sweaty in dirty farm clothes and a huge heavy duffel. Order too many sweets for one little person, who’s only sitting and working on this blog post for some hours.  Make food photo shootings at different tables.  

And if I wouldn’t have anything to do, I would definitely come here too, because there are stacks of inspiring recipe books and lifestyle magazines to read.

East London Food and Plants

Love  Music  Smiles

Kelly and Thibault have brought the international “trends” to local charming Bordeaux, in a very modest and cheerful manner.  Despite the medicine lattes and raw/vegan/gluten-free treats, this place is not a hyped trendy social media place.  It has the potential to be that one day, but at the moment this gluten-free café in Bordeaux stays a local hidden secret. The customers group is mixed, but never overflows the interior. This gluten-free café in Bordeaux is laid-back, has a soundcloud made by friends and DJs, and interior color splashes of blue and yellow.  Love | Music | Smiles is their motto, which is definitely fulfilled. The loving couple transmits smiles and a positive lifestyle through their food, playback, staff and interior.


Where? 5 Cours Pasteur, 33000 (2km from the train station, just off the plaza Pey Berland, with the cathedra;)

When? Tuesday-Saturday 10-18:00, Sunday 10-17:00, closed Monday

How Much? Flat White 4€, Medicine Lattes 5€, Smoothies 6€, Lunch 7,50€-13€, Pastries/Desserts 5,50€, Brunch 23€

Diets: gluten-free (100%), also vegan, vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, local, seasonal, organic

Other Info: free wi-fi, plentiful seating (only inside), great bathroom (even with Dr. Bronners hand lotion ;)), order at counter, great to-go options

Connect: instagram, their own soundcloud

My favorite: medicine lattes, chocolate cake and cookie, any lunch dishes

Thibault’s favorite: coffee, and the banana bread with homemade almond butter, banana, almonds, agave (Kelly’s recipe)

Kelly’s favorite: she loves all, but especially the medicine lattes

continue

Vegan Surf Camp Breakfast

Vegan Surf Camp in France

sunset yoga at beach

yoga in the pine forest – miso-tahini porridge – daydreaming while "surfing" – beach siestas – debates about veganism – matcha ice cream in San Sebastián – miraculous dinner buffets – sunset surf in golden water – fresh air: All Day Long.

 

For the first part of my gap year, I decided to go abroad – “only” to France.  My long term goal is to learn French.  However I also want to use this time to get to know a different culture and meet all  different types of people in various stages of their life.  And lastly, I hope to let go of some “daily life” aspects of life – to live more by the day . . .

My first month started by volunteering at the Vegan Surf Camp in Moliets Plage (southwest France).  From morning yoga, to miso-tahini-porridge, wading through shoulder-high water, surfing in the sunset and a day in San Sebastián – these weeks have a lot to tell.  But let me start from the beginning.

Many people wondered how I found this surf camp.  Well: I was browsing the internet looking for options of what to do abroad France – AuPair, volunteer, wwoof, workaday? At some point I found a link for “volunteering at a surf camp”.  I’ve always wanted to learn how to surf, so that gave me the idea to specifically google “volunteer surf camp France”.  Not much later I found this vegan one, and immediately applied. Then I skyped with Tyn and Leni, being asked questions like:

“Who is your biggest idol in long-distance running”

“What is your favorite kitchen knife?”

My response to the latter was “Opinel knives”, which they turned out to also use at the surf camp. Maybe that’s what convinced them?  Or my chatty-ness? Ask them, but whatever it was, herewith I had my fist activity abroad settled.

Warning: This post is very long 😉 

So before you start and get impatient after 3 minutes, I will give you an idea of what I will write about, so you can find what interests you most – if not everything 😉

Also, last info before I come to the real telling: I only decided to write this post a week after I had left.  That means I didn't take many appealing pictures, and also didn't note down every important piece of information.  But my memory still has enough capacity for a too long post . . . so stay with me even without the best pictures 😉

What exactly is the Vegan Surf Camp?

This surf camp exists for about five years.  It is run by an organic farm association (L’Amour de la Terre) that is based near Toulouse.  So the main staff group is from this association and has grown up eating almost only vegan and organic foods.  To me they seem like a big, kind of hippy, but well routined, extended family.

Their camp is in Moliets Plage, along one of the biggest surfing coasts, in southwest France. The neighboring “real town” (Moliets-et-Maa) is 2km inland.  However this beach town was sufficient for my stay.  It has one promenade, quite touristy, with lots of restaurants, grocery stores, some brand name surf shops, not bad cafés and tasty ice cream.

The Vegan Surf Camp itself is on a big camping complex amongst other surf camps – Pure Surf, DreamSea, Star Surf – as well as private vacationers. You sleep in tents, on air mattresses and with your brought along comforter/sleeping bag. In the rest of their camping area are common seating areas, hammocks, a trampolin, a ping pong table, some vegetable plants and herbs, a tea-corner, a surfing corner, the buffet tent, the reception tent, the activity tent…

Apart from eating freshly prepared vegan food (of which every guest said they did "too much"), I surfed, did yoga, practiced my slack-lining and volleyball skills, wandered through the pine forest collecting blackberries, jogged, and played board games. There were special activities daily too, but I'll come to those later.  First, this is what an exemplary day of mine looked like:

  • 8:00 Wake Up
  • 8:30-9:30 Hatha or Vinyasa Yoga in the Pine Forest
  • 10:00 Breakfast
  • 11:30-15:00 Beach & Surfing
  • 15:30-19:00 Dinner Prep Working Shift (cutting, peeling, washing veggies)
  • 19:00 Dinner
  • 20:30-23:00 Evening Activities
  • 23:00 Sleep

Each part will get its extent of explanation below, starting with the breakfast and dinner first.

Vegan Food:

I was extremely impressed by how much this team of around 5 cooks and 6 volunteers managed to make – we were roughly 150 hungry herbivores.  Everything is organic, as local as possible and adapted to the guests diets (like gluten intolerance or nut allergies).  They cook based on a MACROBIOTIC DIET, and of course vegan.  I wanted to learn more about the macrobiotic aspect, so I asked the “chef-cook” Mausi. The part I took along most was that whilst eating macrobiotic, you try to find a balance of your Yin and Yang (the calm/soft (yin) versus the active/hard/determined (yang) energies in your body).  Many vegan people tend to eat quite “Yin”.  That includes a lot of raw veggies, that your body needs a lot of energy to digest.  So Mausi put value on having a good balance, that incorporated enough contractive “Yang” options, like steamed veggies, stews and soups.

Another peculiar thing, that was different from my usual diet was the dominance of seasonings mixed with sesame, miso, tamari or the Japanese plum Umeboshi.  Now I want to start and experiment with those once I'm back in my kitchen.

nutrition chart
a nutrition chart that was hanging in the buffet tent

My mornings started with an Ayurvedic tea from Atma, before going to yoga.  These classes did me surprisingly good.  Walking back from the pine forest I literally felt stronger, more clear-minded and innerly perfectly balanced – yes, and this is coming from a person who is usually very sceptical about reading anything of this “how you feel like” life.  But it’s true, and so I tried to make my breakfast just as harmonious.  The BREAKFAST BUFFET offered hot to cold, sweet to savory, and typical french to Ayurvedic and macrobiotic options:

“Sweet”

  • oat-porridge w/ raisins
  • unsweetened rice porridge (only cooked with water)
  • polenta w/ raisins (sometimes)
  • different mueslis (also gf)
  • mix-ins: raisins, coconut, cinnamon, gomasio
  • rice and soy milk
  • peanut butter and tahini (both only sometimes)
  • fruit: watermelon, cantaloupe, bananas, plums, apples, pears
  • baguette with margarine and jams

“Savory” (also for packing your lunch-box)

  • unsweetened rice porridge (only cooked with water)
  • miso soup
  • homemade sunflower seeds spreads (with curry or tomato)
  • hummus (sometimes)
  • miso-tahini
  • bread (mostly baguettes)
  • raw: shredded carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, cabbage salad, lettuce
  • fried zucchini, sometimes pumpkin
  • condiments: gomasio, soy sauce, salt, tamari, vinegar, oil

I was amazed how many people actually only ate the French tartine. That is a baguette with butter (here margarine) and jam.  However other people had a rainbow plate lavishing with colorful veggies.  My comfort food, I know call the Miso-Tahini Porridge Bowl. It is not a "savoury breakfast", yet without much sweeteners either – warm, flavourful and different from my usuals.

My Miso-Tahini Porridge Bowl:

  • porridge base (oat, rice, millet, polenta)
  • mashed bananas
  • a big dollop or miso-tahini
  • gomasio, coconut, raisins on top + a splash of rice milk
  • optional: sometimes also carrots or fried pumpkin
breakfast rice porridge, tea
here: mashed banana under the unsweetened rice porridge, coconut shreds, miso-tahini, gomasio, raisins

I might not have taken miso-tahini as my first choice. But they often didn’t have normal tahini and I try to avoid peanuts (for my yin-yang balance 😉 ).  So I immediately got used to this version, which solely is tahini mixed with miso: quite pungent, but totally possible (I think awesome) in a “sweet breakfast bowl”.

Now for LUNCH, there’s no official eating time and most people have packed sandwiches or tupperwares that they assembled breakfast.  Though if you are at the camp, a mix of breakfast and the prior’s day dinner will be standing outside till the late afternoon.

By 19:00 everybody was hungrily waiting at the buffet tent for DINNER. The selection was abundant.  Some guests challenged themselves to try every item every day, however I didn't, so on this plate is maybe half of what the buffet offered.

Vegan Dinner Plate
pumpkin leek soup, sweet-sour cooked pumpkin, salty-roasted almonds, sweet-sour cooked kale, tofu, raw cucumbers and carrots, avocado dip, seaweed salad, steamed broccoli, onion and pumpkin tempura

They made a different soup every day, offered 2-4 different “starchy bases”, a green salad, baguette, maybe 8-10 different veggies, and daily specials with matching sauces or dips. Here’s what I can remember:

  • soup/stew: potato-leek, pumpkin-ginger, , curry-pumpkin-lentil, carrot-pumpkin-onion, cold gazpacho, cold cucumber-avocado
  • starchy base (2-4): pasta, rice, millet, potatoes (mashed, plain, as a salad), white bean salad, bulgur, couscous
  • veggies: various cabbage salads, sweet-sour cooked kale, various seaweed salads, steamed kombu w/ mushrooms, glazed onions, fried bell peppers, shredded carrot salad, steamed carrots and radish, cucumber salad, pickled radish, green beans, cooked broccoli, sweet-sour cooked pumpkin, tomato-“veg-mozzarella”, red beet salad, fried pimientos
  • daily special: burgers (also gf), tempura veggies and tofu, fried-shredded seitan and tofu, sushi, smeared baguette with tofu cream and spices
  • sauces/dips: mayonnaise, ketchup, hummus, avocado-cucumber sauce, tahini sauce, red beet-almond dip, tofu cream, seitan-tomato sauce, homemade pestos

I felt like the staff crew didn’t seem like the type of people who would eat a lot of DESSERT.  So unfortunately their dessert buffet wasn't comparable to any other meal of the day. Usually they only served cantaloupe and watermelon.  However every few days, we got surprised with something special, such as the following:

  • watermelon slush ice cream
  • agar agar pudding
  • a sticky muesli-nut-rice syrup mingle
  • soy vanilla pudding
  • banana nice cream with chocolate pieces
  • popcorn and chips (on movie nights)

All in all, the food was amazing.  Everything was homemade, prettily decorated, and the selection was so large, that you could mix and match a favorite but differing combo daily.  I met some very picky eaters, that were less satisfied.  They complained about too much oil and salt.  I can see their point for a few dishes, however most were seasoned in a normal way, nowhere near too much in my opinion. You could always find good gluten-free choices, raw or unseasoned veggies as well.

Vegan Surf Camp Dinner
my usual dinner spot with Jasmine DeBeer (surf teacher), Silvana and Julia (two other volunteers)

All guests I talked too were amazed.  They asked for the recipes and took pictures daily.  If people went to buy something in a super market, it was usually chocolate.  And the only other complaint I heard, was their problem of eating too much.

Now well fed, I can feed your mind with the activities that filled the rest of the day.

More than Yoga and Surfing:

It was hard to get bored here, and if you did, a last saviour was to play board games.

The first activity I loved was YOGA, which you could go to 2-3x a day. One of my yoga teachers was Hanna, a very down to earth teacher, originally from Braunschweig, currently from Neukölln, Berlin. She teaches Hatha Yoga, which is usually a calm, “holding poses for a long time” form of yoga.  But at this camp her classes were a bit more dynamic than traditionally.

Alix from Paris was my other teacher. Her classes were Vinyasa, the real dynamic “flowing-yoga” that connects breath and movement.  She liked to trick us with the “last round” and challenge our core into multiple contractions.  But at the latest when I did partner and Acro Yoga (that she offers once a week at sunset at the beach) I knew that you seriously needed them to be a yogi.
One rainy day, when it wasn't possible to move on the water-filled ground, she spontaneously decided to guide us through a CHAKRA MEDITATION.  We were guided through the seven parts in our spine that host the Chakra Energy. The first one is the grounded, red , “I am safe” Chakra in your tailbone, the last the spiritual, shining, violet Chakra at the tip of your head “I am my own god”.  These 30 minutes passed much easier than I would have ever thought and stayed with me the whole day . . . and longer.

The other main activity of this camp is SURFING.  It surprised me that we had to walk about 20min  from the camp to the beach, including wading through a river on the beach, to get to our surf spot.

One day it was new moon and a super high tide.  The usually knee-high river rose a bit too much for my liking.  I could only have walked underwater. Luckily I was with someone who had a surfboard, so I put my backpack and clothes on it and swam across!

Back to the 20min walk – it’s not as bad as it might sound, you get used to it pretty quickly.  Plus, if surfing isn’t a sport for you (for example because you mostly daydream in the water like me) . . . this warm-up is a good training, especially when carrying the board alone.

Surf lessons are 1.5 hours including a theoretical and practical part. I can’t say much, because as a volunteer I didn’t take any. Once you know the basics, I think that practice, concentration and endurance are the best teacher.  Unfortunately when I surfed, I daydreamed a lot and got cold too fast to stay in any longer than an hour.  So my skills improved slower than hoped. But just wading through the salty water, chilling on the board, watching professional surfers, or the feeling of flying on water once I caught a wave, was worth all the board-schlepping.  Plus, in the reflecting and salty water your skin gets tanner and your hair blond quicker than anywhere else.

There were EXTRA ACTIVITIES daily, sometimes in the afternoon, but usually in the evenings:

  • sunset surf and Acro Yoga at the beach
  • movie night with sweet and salty popcorn
  • beach games (volleyball, running games)
  • Just Dance on the Wii
  • A “talk”, e.g. about climate change, or Ayurvedic foods
  • surf theory class
  • cooking course
  • party night (twice a week) with homemade mojitos
  • beach clean with a really cool goodie bag to win

On the day of SUNSET SURF & YOGA I pondered forever which I should do. I felt too full for Acro Yoga, but didn’t want to get sick for real (I already had a cough), when surfing at 9pm.  I ended up choosing the surf, and was incredibly happy I did.  Again, I didn’t try to catch too many waves because I was stupefied by the sunset.  It went through the deepest orange tones that reflected on the dark blue glittering water.  The white streaks of soft clouds in the sky made the perfect background for a surfers silhouettes.  It also turned out not to be any colder than the rest of the day and the tide was perfect so that once I did concentrate, I actually got some of my best waves yet.

A week later, my cough had increased a bit and so I chose the Acro Yoga.  It was super cool.  Again I thought I was too full to have my stomach balance on someones feet but after some sun salutations and other challenging parter poses, I felt well digested for the flying pose.  All poses weren’t too hard, but more exhausting, especially in the abs, than I expected.

Sunset Yoga at the Beach

Monday and Friday it’s official PARTY NIGHT in all of Moliets.  Till 23:00 everybody parties at the camp. Then, after quiet time, everybody moves on to the crowded bars in town. I’m not a party person at all, so I put zero pressure on myself to mingle in if I didn’t want to. After all, my priorities where to be fit the next day, try to learn how to surf and enjoy the yoga early in the morning.  However on my last night I told my mind the opposite, and was seriously curious to give this partying a chance. I tried the handcrafted “dirty” Mojito, served in the re-used jam jars, got some hipster face-paint and enjoyed the vibe between the trees on the sandy dance floor.  There was everything from hipster bare feet, to stylish white tunicas, from the blond surfer dudes, to parents with their baby wrapped on their chest.

The last activity I will write in more depth about is the BEACH CLEAN.  I didn’t want to join this, but had to join as a volunteer – and ended up loving it.  Not every person is like me, so I’m only speaking for myself. Other than learning some really interesting stuff I thought it was like a relaxing meditation.  We cleaned up for about an hour, picking up the smallest of small pieces that would never take an end in this sand.  So it did feel a bit useless.  However one kind of plastic we picked up was a tiny wheel. “Factories put it in their drain to catch-all bacteria that flows through” – or something like that.  They leak into the ocean (with all the bacteria clung to them) and get stranded back onto the beach.  We collected these pieces separately, so that the Vegan Surf Camp could send them to the SurfRider Foundation. This non-profit organization can track back which factory they came from and “sue” them or something like that, hehe 😉  So if the meditation and “good will” doesn’t convince you, then you now know that these little wheels here actually do make a difference.  After the hour, all bags were collected, and the most successful trash-finder won an organic cotton Vegan Surf Camp bag, including iChoc chocolate and HURRAW chapsticks.  Unfortunately it wasn’t me, but as a consolation prize, all other fellow trash collectors, including me, got a bar of Sunny Almond iChoc.

A Day in San Sebastián:

San Sebastian, pict of us

As a volunteer I worked the breakfast shift (7:30-11:45) to earn my day in San Sebastián.  We left around 1pm on a 1.5 hour freezing bus ride, of which I slept most of the time.  But awaking in this small but culturally booming Spanish town, was quite a reward. I immediately loved it: old buildings, a river, the ocean, islands, narrow streets, the Monte Urgull hill, lots of tapas bars (and vegan cafes).

After walking to the main square together, we were free to do what we wanted. Once choice was to stay with our tour guide (one of the volunteers), which I chose to do. I wasn’t fully lectured, but saw some nice old buildings and got introduced to a delicious ice cream shop (Oiartzun) that I might not have found otherwise. They had vegan sorbets, and creamy dairy flavors.  I got to sample lots, loved all, but chose a scoop of matcha (very strong and refreshing) and “rice-pudding” on which she freshly sprinkled cinnamon on top.  It wasn’t a super idyllic, owner-based ice cream shop, but delicious and different than the ones I know from Hamburg.

San Sebastian matcha and rice pudding ice cream

Then we strolled some hours, till we were ready to search for dinner. The Vegan Surf Camp gave us a Google Doc Map with all veggie and vegan friendly places in San Sebastián.  There were tons!  We decided on KM.0 and arrived finding that they only reopened at 19:00.  We were standing in front, discussing our options, when an old Spanish lady walked by and decided to drag us through town to show us other vegan restaurants. Pulling her shopping trolley behind her, she lead us to a second closed restaurant and eventually ended at (what we think was her) vegan grocery shop.  A complicated but also fun little detour, though by then it was 19:00 and we decided to return to KM.0. It turned out that this café also only served dinner after 20:00.  But the plan was to watch the sunset on the Monte Urgull Hill at 20:30! Luckily the owner served her spongy vegan tortilla and cornbread bruschetta with eggplants, before 20:00.  They were superb, and we ate up her stash before charging through town to get to Monte Urgull on time.

Now to be honest, long story, I know, there was a planned picnic with our surf camp group at the sunset.  So we didn’t even have to eat, but had wanted to anyway.  In the end the picnic was really nice too: baguettes, hummus and pesto, nuts, dried fruit, grapes, wine and olives. A guy from the Netherlands forced me to try the olives, my second-detested food. Don’t ask me why, but I suddenly liked these free ones!  But I had to swallow an “amazingly juicy delicious” cherry tomato as well and boy no no no, as poisonous as always.  We stayed long past the sunset though, drinking wine, nibbling through the rests of the picnic whilst having philosophical vegan chats with some cool other campers that I hadn’t met yet.

San Sebastian sunset

At 22:30 we had to head back "already", I could have stayed the whole night. But sleep did good too. Luckily my group didn’t have the party vibe like the week before did, so we all got a first nights rest on the ride home before wrapping up in snug warm tents around 1am.

My Experience as a Volunteer:

As a volunteer (there were around 15 of us), we had to work around four hours a day.  In exchange we got everything for free – "lodging", food, San Sebastián trip, yoga classes, surfboard, wetsuit . . .  We only weren’t assigned to surf lessons, but could join whenever there was a free spot.

Here are some examples of what my daily shifts looked like:

  • Breakfast Shift (7:30-11:45) with 30min break for our breaky: e.g. peel and grate carrots, cut melons and bananas, fry zucchinis on the plancha, sweep and wipe the buffet and eating area, wash all breakfast dishes . . .
  • Dinner-Prep Shift (15:30-19:00): e.g. peel potatoes, grate radishes on a mandoline (and try not to get cut – I minimized this to four times), wash dishes in between, cut cucumbers, wash and hand dry lettuce (by shaking each leaf), help prepare the buffet . . .
  • Day Teamer (10:30-14:30) and Evening Dishes (19:30-21:30): [Day Teamer] sit at the reception counter and help guests (or eat iChoc chocolate 😉 ), sweep common areas, fill up sunscreen bottles, take out trash // [Dishes] that is self-explanatory I guess: wash, dry and clean up all of dinners’ dishes!
Volunteers doing dishes
(left to right) Saskia from Stuttgart, Silvana from Mannheim, Julia from Cuxhaven

The jobs themselves were more of a workout than I thought (especially grating veggies for two hours).  But it definitely wasn’t too exhausting to take part in yoga, go running or surf.  For me it was a perfect balance of enough work that I didn’t get bored, with still plenty free time to do what else I wanted.  Only on the days when we had a teamer meeting at 12:00, depending on what shift you had, the day was cut short by that. But the teamer meetings were also when we got our new stamp card for the bar: free chocolate, cookies or drinks in return wasn’t bad.

21 year old Germans

The group of volunteers was a mix of mostly Germans and French; with a few exceptions from Italy, Spain, Austria, Czech and the US.  The vast majority was girls – aged at 21 actually.  I was the youngest at 18, and the oldest was 32. The surf-assistants and yoga teachers hung out mostly with “us volunteers”, for example at the beach practicing Acro Yoga poses in the sand. But we also mingled with guests – from playing babysitter for their kids, to chats at the beach about all pros (and cons) about veganism.  It seemed to me that most guests were vegetarian and many vegan.  However of us volunteers, most of us were “nothing” and some vegetarian.

volunteers crepes and phones
when the others used their phones, I used my camera

So we did slip out in the evenings for a misdeed of ice cream and nutella crepes. All the way up to a cheese and ham pizza (not me 😉 ).  But that was the exception.  Almost everyone enjoyed the vegan lifestyle as much as I did. All in all we were a great team and got along great.

Vegan Surf Camp Volunteers
every volunteer that left got a Polaroid picture of the team like this

A wonderful “time-out” from normal life

Now to complete this little life-update here: My three and a half weeks at the vegan surf camp were great!  They felt like a “time-out” from normal life, I got into my new daily routine, didn’t even want to use my phone and was active the whole day, which made every meal even more delicious.  I also didn’t envy the guests for having more time at all.  By being here for many weeks, I got the chance to take part in any extra activity I wanted too.  If time allows, I will definitely try to come again!


Insider's Packing List & Tips:

So…!  Whoever has made it to the end and decided that they want to go to the surf camp next year here are my insider packing tips.  I’m not writing down everything, only those items that don’t seem obvious to me.

Clothing:

  • enough warm clothes: hat, scarf, wool socks for the tent (it gets quite chilly in the mornings and evenings)
  • rain clothes (it rained every few days)
  • a mix of ragged and nice clothes (I only packed my “ugliest” outside clothes, but most other people wore else nice/normal city clothes in the evenings)

Food:

Thinking I was on one of those trips where you don’t get to make your own food, I packed granola bars, a jar of almond butter, tea bags . . .  However, food wise they offer more than you want so I recommend not to waste much luggage space with more.  I would have only liked honey for my throat, they obviously didn't have the bee's product.  And maybe if you “love your almond milk” (they only have rice and soy) or “your special dark chocolate in the evenings”, then you can think about that. But altogether I savoured happily without any of my extras.  Justin's almond butter was saved for wwoofing  days and instead I discovered miso-tahini!

Miscellaneous:

  • cough drops/throat ache bonbons (so many people had a cold, probably because of the cold nights)
  • many different sized bags to rearrange your clean, dirty, and wet stuff in a maybe very sandy tent
  • flashlight
  • clothing pins (if you’re picky about your laundry possibly falling into the sand of the laundry lines)
  • perfect sized spoon (their spoons are the size of a coin, and as flat as can be, so if you love your porridge in the mornings and have that perfect sized breakfast spoon craze like me, then you should take one)
  • something to make you feel cozy at home in your tent (pillow/dreamweaver/blanket)
  • earplugs, sleeping mask
  • NOT sunscreen – or only a little, because they almost always have their eco.cosmetics sunscreen out for everybody to use (in all strengths, as cream oil, for tattooed skin, after sun), it was amazing: the smell, texture and function, I didn't sunburn a single time in the three weeks!

Now now … I don't know if there is a possible summary to end. I think I actually already finished my post before the packing list. But for the second ending I will rewrite my favorite parts of these twenty four days (like I did at the beginning). Maybe now you will read them in a different way.


yoga in the pine forest – miso-tahini porridge – daydreaming while "surfing" – beach siestas – debates about veganism – matcha ice cream in San Sebastián – miraculous dinner buffets – sunset surf in golden water  fresh air: All Day Long.


 sunset yoga at beach

continue

My first time in Bordeaux

I’m always impressed how large Europe ends up being, how much is reachable by train but yet how every town and region can still be so different.  This was my first time in the southwestern region of France, Aquitaine.  The region around Bordeaux is most famous for their wine. Just an hour away, behind pine tree forests (that Napoleon planted) and different sized sand dunes, you’ll find stunning coasts.  Either the famous, wild surf hotspots further south (Hossegor, Moliets Plage . . .) or the calmer ones full of fresh oysters (Bay of Arcachon).  I knew it was famous for activities like bird watching, canoeing, sailing and biking. However, when we came to the humongous famous sand dune Dune du Pyla, paragliding was added to my list.

But now to Bordeaux:

I ended up being in Bordeaux for only a couple days.  It has left a great aftertaste – narrow streets, massive stone buildings, deep colored doorways large enough to fit carriages, cool fountains, an industrial district with modern architecture . . . . And a not slight amount of specialty coffee and breakfast spots.  Google seems to be good for almost everything, but when I was on the lookout for this type of cafés, it only found Black List.  That’s one right answer, but there are lots more that my google search missed.

Another interesting thing I learned was that set menus are also served for breakfast in France.  The original version is coffee, croissant, orange juice.  However the modern/trendy – whatever we call it – version might be: matcha latte, avo-toast, fresh apple-ginger-lemon juice (Black List). I guess that wasn’t respecting creative take on the local cuisine as much as it should. More of that next time . . . probably in search of the best chocolatine (the term for pain au chocolate down here).

So here are my favorite food finds in Bordeaux, including:

  • gluten-free chocolate fudgy cookies (Banana Café)
  • great matcha with beautiful latte art (Black List Café)
  • that minimalist, clean third wave coffee shop interior (Alchimiste Coffee)
  • 80 different ice cream flavors, most of them organic (La Maison du Glacier)

click here for map below

Banana Café

The first time I walked by this café, it seemed perfect. Organic and local produce goes into their superfood bread with homemade almond butter, vegan and gluten-free pastries, daily smoothies and juices, medicine lattes, savory poached egg pancakes with goat cheese – all of it made completely from scratch.  But it was completely empty, and not wanting to be the only customer, I continued down the street.  However I chose this spot for my second breakfast outing and wouldn't hesitate to do so again.

Banana Café is as genuine as SIP and Black List, but more personal and with more outlandish dishes.  The comptoir (bar) displays their baked goods from miniature carrot cake muffins, to homemade fudge or raw brownies along with local business cards, plants and beautiful cookbooks.  The back room is like a courtyard between houses, just inside – with stone walls and arches, large paintings, magazines, more cookbooks, tables with pillowed benches and loungy leather chairs.

I chose the fluffy pancakes with berries and nuts, but there also are international savory dishes like Polish pierogi, falafel and hummus, ceviche or banana corn wraps. It was 30º outside, which made me opt for a velvety refreshing green smoothie (with peas, spinach, almond butter and banana).   Though if the weather ever gives me the chance, I'll be super keen to try one of those lattes (black magic, blue moon, coconut matcha, mexican chocolate…) because I haven't seen those around anywhere else before.

Banana Café isn’t a purely vegan or gluten-free spot, but successfully incorporates these diets as well as pesco-vegetarian versions with sheep yogurt, or oysters and wine in a very casual and calm atmosphere.
Tu-Sa: 8:30-18:00, Su: 9-17:00, 5 Cours Pasteur

SIP coffee bar

SIP is a rustic and spacious coffee shop, very laid-back, and a relaxing local spot to work and chill.  It’s across from a nice Boulangerie, on a small side street near the old palace.  Our flat white had a lighter roast, which we usually don’t like much, but this one tasted delicate and sweet.  (I didn't get to try their matcha).

Breakfast keeps up with specialty coffee shop standards while staying French.  That means a hot drink, fresh juice and either artisan bread with butter and jam (the French way) or banana bread and yogurt with granola (Aussie style).  Plus you can add soft boiled eggs to both, and they’ll give you as much delicious bread as you want.

I feel bad for having been the most indecisive and complicated guest that morning. Still, our service was genuinely friendly and felt sorry for not understanding my wishes, even though I didn’t understand them myself. This modern but local and not trendy coffee shop, is definitely a wonderful spot.
Mo-Sa: 8:30-18:30,  69 Bis Rue de des Trois-Conils, website
updated: my whole specialty coffee guide for Bordeaux on European Coffee Trip

Black List

So before my litte trip here, my sparse amount of research for breakfast/flat whites in Bordeaux led to one and only one spot: Black List.  But Black List could also have been enough.  They have specialty roasted coffee, great matcha lattes with the art, and breakfasts that range from homemade cinnamon roll muffins to rustic bread with avocado, passion fruit, chili, poached eggs and a side salad.

Everything, also the piled carrot and chocolate cake, are made in the miniature kitchen, which is literally the end of the aisle that makes up the whole café.  The lady that served me seemed like she was having the time of her life, there is something about the place that makes me thing she always is – singing along to songs, chatting with us tourists and jumping for joy when her regulars came in.  You can’t help but smile when you’re here.
Mo-Fr: 8-18, Sa: 9:30, Su: 9:30-18, 27 Place Pey Berland
updated: my whole specialty coffee guide for Bordeaux on European Coffee Trip

L'Alchimiste Café

Another coffee shop that turns red beans to a latte art through their own form of science…  We were walking our fair share through the old town center of Bordeaux.  L'Alchemiste's La Marzocco and the interior design where enough to show us that they know what their craft is about.  Our city map says they are the pioneers of Bordeaux’s coffee roasting culture and praises their milk, cake and pastries.  Tell me what you think!
Tu-Fr: 8:30-18, Sa: 10-18, 12 Rue de la Vieille Tour, website,
updated: my whole specialty coffee guide for Bordeaux on European Coffee Trip

Les Mots Bleu

Another little find along the old streets of town.  I remember the promising appearance, and later found it in our “Use-It” travel map.  They described them the following way “good hot tea, a delicious cookie, a fine book, beautiful stone walls and a comfortable sofa … a warm and welcoming place, perfect for a cozy break and homemade tartes that make you feel at home”
Tu-Sa: 10-19:00, Su: 14-19:00, 40 Rue Poquelin Molier

La Maison du Glacier – L’authenticite du Goût

That subtitle means authentic taste, which is assured when you are confronted with about 80 different flavors. The majority of them are organic and toppings include meringue or a flat French biscuit.  They’ll have everything you imagined… and I’m sorry to say that I forgot most of their flavors already, except "buttery breton-cookie”.

On the left is the normal parlor, the right entrance is for the café with a menu that includes opulent concoctions just like I remember them from Berthillon in Paris.  Below is my shot prior to slurping up the two boules and crunching through the fluff of meringue on a beautiful calm plaza by the St. Pierre church, before catching the train to the coast.
daily 13:30-22:30, 1 Place Saint-Pierre

La Maison du Glacier, ice cream Bordeaux


Some more tempting cafés from our local maps:

Those two maps I talked about (Use-It and LeMap Bordeaux) had some helpful suggestions, but unfortunately our time, hunger and weather didn’t give us a chance to try all.  Here are some I would remember for my next time:

Plume Bakery & Coffee: pastries baked with love (recommended brownie-cheesecake), soups simmered by Norwegian chef, very hearty Sunday brunch, vintage interior design
(Mon-Sat: 10-19:00, Sun 10-15:00)

Books & Coffee: teahouse, made to chill, read, write, work or chat, calm environment, teahouse with coffee, smoothies, lemonades and delicious pastries, during lunch hours a forever changing menu, terrace outside
(Mo: 14-19:00, Tu-Sa 9-19:00, Su: 11-15:00)

Tamatebako: minimalist workshop look, very cozy coffee shop, owners have great spirit, homebaked grandma style cake, amazing hot unsweetened chocolate
(Tu-Su: 8:30-19:30)

Tchaï Bar: all sorts of teas, homemade savoury or sweet snacks, place to chill, in the basement  dance with La Clé du Quai, an association created by Bela and Antoine (the owners) to connect their artisic life to the café
(Mo-Sa: 12-20:00)

Les Capucins: THE market in Bordaux, more than 250 years old Sunday seafood lunch, jazz music, herb stands, samossas and lots more
(Tu-Fr: 6-13:00, Sa-Su: 5:30-14:30)

La Boulangerie: gigantic pastries (they looked really good!), recommended “Jesuite” cake – flaky, moist pastry with French almond cream inside, or fresh chocolatines and croissants from the oven
(Mo-Su: 7-19:30)


And my recommended “culture list”:

Yeah, I pretty much plan my trips around the meals. That doesn't mean that in between there isn't time to explore the rest.  In Bordeaux that included strolling through the smallest alleyways, window-shopping in local concept stores, absorbing misty fountains or renting a bike to ride to the “other side” of the river Garonne.  Below are neat areas I enjoyed, and spots I wanted to see:

Miroir d’Eau: A flat fountain between the UNESCO Place de la Bourse and Garonne river.  It reflects the magnificent historic building at night and occasionally steams out misty fog. It's especially beautiful in the evening hours, with lots of people and a great atmosphere.

St. Michel: multicultural, bohemian, less-touristy – It has a wonderful plaza with a rondel and church, weekly markets, and is surrounded by cafés.

Rue du Muguet: Just a minute from busy streets we were suddenly alone walking through always smaller alleyways. Finally we got to the narrowest one, where my dad, with stretched arms, could touch both sides.

around Bassin à Flot: (at the north end of Garonne) – This area is up and coming. Currently it is full of construction, that is turning the industrial architecture into artsy modern apartment buildings. It's also home to the wine museum La Cité du Vin. Just the building is already worth seeing. Inside you will find everything about wine, including tastings, as well as temporary exhibitions and a great city view from atop. Base Sous-Marine is located here too. It hosts art exhibits, jazz gigs, classical concerts and more.  But also here, just a look from outsid is great too.  The concrete "building" used to be a submarine from the 2nd world war.

Place de Quinconces: This plaza hosts the big fountain with "spitting horses" (that actually looked more like dragons) and a freedom statue atop.  It's a tourist attraction, but I see why.

Jardin Public: The park is supposed to be green as can be, with swans and ducks in the pond, forged iron bridges, a natural history misuem, botanical garden.  They say its full of locals – students playing Nirvana songs, as well as kids on the carousel.
(daily from 7am)

Darwin Ecosystem: (on the right bank of the Garonne) The former military base was renovated to form this ecosystem.  It's a perfect new home for start ups, cultural exhibitions and events, as well as a coworking space, an urban garden and a modern, amazing organic and sustainable food store with its own restaurant/cafe. – "Full of creativity and dynamic."

Book Stores

Mollat: biggest independent bookshop in France, more than 200 y. old
(Mo-Sa: 9:30-19:30)

La Mauvaise Réputation: little underground gallery bookshop with hidden gems, comics and fanzines
(Mo-Sa: 10-19:00)

La Zone du Dehors: great bookshop with a geek, street art and kid section, café in the back with tea, coffee, lunch, pastries, and wifi for studying students
(Mo-Sa: 10-20:00, Su: 13-19:00)

Guide for the Map: .green = nature. .blue = culture. .red = cafes and food. .orange = book store. .gray = the places I haven't been too.

continue

München: "Italy's northest town"

Italian Food in Munich – that's not a challenge to find.  Many people actually call Munich "Italy's northest town".  I can see why.  There are pizzerias at literally every corner, and way too many of them look delicious.  Same goes for ice cream: some crazy flavors (boiled egg or sausage) as well as health-crazing ones (vegan, organic and refined sugar free), but if you splurge you'll run out of cash.  I did – however my favourite ended up being the Italian gelato, the quality is amazing.  Lastly, when I was looking for a snack to-go for a friend, all we seemed to see were the fluffy focaccia sandwiches in different bistros.

If you keep eyes open you'll find Italian spots everywhere, but these are the ones between Maxvorstadt and Schwabing-West that I especially liked or want to try:

Luigino's Bio Feinkost


Wooden tables with little mediterranean plants and a large olive tree over a wooden bench inside give Luigino's its idyllic Italian flair.  As an all organic Italian delicacy store they prepare grilled focaccia sandwiches and sell an array of very affordable, including strong mountain, cheeses.  Even if the salesperson himself was German (his owner is from Sicily), he made us feel in an Italian shop and let us sample our way through the cheeses whilst telling us all about them.
grilled focaccia sandwich 3,90€, most cheeses between 1,50-3€/100g – Türkenstr. 53 (+ two more locations) – website


Lo Studente (wood oven pizzeria)

The whiff every time I walked by was so tempting. My sister could approve of my smell and said that the pizzas sure do taste delicious. You can choose organic Kamut pizza dough, either as the calzone or with one of the many traditional pizza combinations. There are multiple specials every day, and many different pasta dishes and desserts.  Haven't tried it myself, but it's on the list – tell me if you have!
good veggie options, not much vegan – lively atmosphere – most dishes 6-9€ – Schellingstraße 30 – website 


Pizzeria Multicereali Ciao Ragazzi

This is one of those spots that reminds me of LA, but the nice parts of LA.  It's a lively spot where students go, but has a hint of posh.  You can look into the open kitchen, although I only sniffed the dishes amongst all the outside seated guests around the busy corner.  The pizza was served on wooden trays and looked so tempting. Multicereali stands for their organic pizza dough made from a mix of rye, barley, oat, manitoba and rice flour.  I definitely want to come here the next time I'm in Munich!
good veggie options, not much vegan – lively atmosphere – pizza 7-13€ – Schelling Str. 27 – "website"


Bartu Bio Eis & Pizza

This all organic ice cream shop has legit ice cream. I never knew that vegan chocolate sorbet could be so creamy and rich!  Their scooper is somewhat incapable, a flat big slab, so it might take a minute or two for them to shake the scoop off of it and smear it flat into the cup but it's worth the wait.  If you get bored, check out the ingredient list – all ingredients for each flavour are typed big and fat on the walls. Bartu also make pizza, I haven't given much attention to that though.
many vegan and non-vegan flavors – scoop 1,90€, with two flavors 2,90€, kids discount – Wilhelmstr, 23, 11-21:00 – website


Ballabeni IceCream

Despite the long line, by which I usually judge an ice cream store, I was at first hesitant about Ballabeni, because of their cheap looking waffle cups . . . four scoops later, not anymore. Their ice cream has amazing quality, reminding me of Anna Durkes in Berlin, meaning that every lick lasts forever and the hot sun melts, but doesn't diminish the quality of these scoops.  It's dense but creamy soft and the flavors are striking.  Plus: you get a sample scoop on top, and the spoon has a perfect size and form – I know, very important, but we did keep them :).
vegan sorbets and milk flavors – good sized scoop 1,60€ (you won't get it much cheaper anywhere in Munich) – Theresienstraße 46, 11:30-22:30 – website


Gecobli Gourmet Gelateria

I had just had the most delicious gelato at Ballabeni.  Then I walked two streets further and saw a black waffle cone, the playful minimalistic interior and written on a chalkboard "handmade ice cream". Gecobli had enough to convince me.  I chose my flavors, underlied by melted dark Belgian chocolate, topped off with organic cacao nibs. That's what my ice cream dream here is made of. You can also choose the melted Belgian chocolate for the cup, it'll then turn into a hard shell. Or hazelnut, almonds or coconut shreds for the top.  Or whipped cream, espresso, some booze and ice cream shakes. The ice cream quality is good, all flavors are made completely naturally and our favorite were caramel-salt, pistachio and intense chocolate.
vegan sorbets and milk flavors – child scoop 1€, normal 1,60€, toppings 50c – Schellingstr. 15, 11:30-22:00 – website


Die Verrückten Eismacher (the crazy ice makers)

The name is deserved.  Crazy, but also locals' and tourists' favorite.  The interior, from the lounge chairs to the walls, reminds of Alice in Wonderland and even the ice cream spoons, cups and napkins are special.  The changing flavors include normal ones, but everyone knows Die Verrückten Eismacher for tastes of cooked egg, cordon bleu, mustard, sausage or beer in their scoop. I was a bit bold and only sampled –  not bad, the savory flavors are made to taste like ice cream, don't worry, but my mind just didn't quite want that on the day.
also vegan flavors – around 1,30€,  Amalienstr. 77, 11:30-22:00 – website


Ice Date

It's looks like a long-established organic vegan shop, ice-cream shop.  Well all flavours are of such, plus refined sugar free and without any additives. Cashews, dates and fruit, that's it.  All flavors from fresh berries to chocolate with ginger, hemp or mint are served like this with a sample scoop on top.  I have to admit that when I eat ice cream I prefer creamy, sweet gelato or American PB swirled brownie butterscotch indulgements. But ice date sure is unique and very supportable.
all vegan, organic, and refined sugar free – Amalienstr. 91, 11-23:00 – website


Sources:

https://eis-machen.de/2015/04/empfehlenswerte-eisdielen-der-verrueckte-eismacher-in-muenchen/

continue

Alpenart – Val Thorens

A restaurant by night, tea salon in the afternoon and artistic concept store simultaneously.  Stumbling upon Alpenart is 100% of what you call a successful discovery.  Val Thorens had been missing exactly a spot like this one, till Aurélie Rey, the daughter of the resorts first mountain guide, opened this fusion of art exhibition, gourmet café, restaurant and sporadically a yoga meet up as well.

When you come inside you'll be caught up by the design of the venue.  Three lounge rooms with every corner, each table, and all seats having their own charm.  The furniture is an eclectic mix: from animal furs, wooden colorful tables, differently styled lounge chairs and couches to the slightly industrial bar spot when you come in.  They appear randomly thrown together but at the same time exquisitely chosen to match each other by contrast. All walls differ as well, splattered with paintings by the owner herself and further works by local artists.

The first time we came because of the free wi-fi and enjoyed an evening sip and treat alongside our phones.  But upon the first glance of the beautifully arrayed desserts (amongst them also vegan and gluten free choices), the glassed wine chamber and, in my case, the hot chocolate menu we realized that our trip to Alpenart was about much more than staying online.  Soon we came as often as our appetite allowed.  Well and timing – because I would have definitely tried the regionally altered galettes (savoury buckwheat crepes) or sweet crepes in a wink, but at lunch time we were busy mastering some mogul slopes across the valley.

The local wild-blueberry tart was our first hit: slightly cooled, perfected by a thin layer of custard cushioning the berries from the crusty base.  The chocolate tart was also great: a fudgy consistency with good dose of walnuts and whipped cream topped with chia seeds.  And nothing better there is, than those steaming hot chocolates in a ski town. Too awesome of a selection to really decide, and the choice of four different milks didn't make it easier.  I happily ended up with the 'Himalaya Salt' one day and the 'Dunked Gingerbread' the other day.  (On my list for next year are the mint flavored, coconut milk fusion, whipped cream, cinnamon and white chocolate sorts.)

On those after dinner sessions, us couch potatoes had been watching other people order their Savoie tapas off the chalk board. That made us quite jealous. So we decided to reserve our last supper for Alpenart.  Only then, we got to appreciate the full depth of their concept.  The owner and her two younger partners represented this place to its full extent. Although everything is set up in a fancy way, it's not a place for snobs, but one for gourmets who appreciate artisan work.  That's exactly the way we felt treated here.  The sommelier Cassandra, turned out to be an acquaintance of our ski teacher (Flavien Pyard).  She shared all her knowledge and experience and gave the wine tasters of my group perfect recommendations for a wine that even I liked.  The three women, together with the chef, create and inspire a menu which puts a dainty and individual twist on the heavy Savoyard cuisine.

Our Supper: We started with these eye-catching aperitifs, Spritz is the kind they drink here.  

Next we shared the tapas salmon bites.  The doughy soft brioche, was contrasted by the fresh zingy salmon with avocado and hints of mint, passion fruit and coconut. The mint especially captured our palate.  Next the salad, adequate amounts of fresh lettuce in a mingle of avocado, raw salmon, nuts, and large slices of goat cheese.  These ingredients weren't just decorative toppings, but had a legit ratio, and the dressing gave it a subtle finish.

As plats principaux we savoured the innovative but regionally inspired dishes. An Alpine Burger with Beaufort cheese.  It had a tender patty with a char-broiled crunch on the outside and tasted like a real burger should taste like, only with a prettier appearance on complementing dinnerware and a side of yummy (you guessed it) french fries.  Our other selection was the Beaufort risotto made with crozets.  Crozets are an oldie for Savoie, dating back to the 14th century.  They are little flat square bits of pasta, typically made of buckwheat and in our case melted with Beaufort cheese and dried meat to resemble a risotto.  This fusion was like fine dining mac 'n' cheese on the highest imaginable level.  That description should not devalue this plat, because we all, who dislike American mac 'n' cheese, thought it was spectacular.

And after tipsily finishing off the last bits of wine we had enough space for dessert again.  We wanted to finish off with their superb wild-blueberry tart but also tried something new: the fluffy raspberry tiramisu parfait – It looks large, but was quite light and fruity so just as dainty .


Where? Place Caron73440 Val Thorens (just by the slope, down the stairs from the church, close to the Ski School and Skiset Goitschel)

Their Facebook (check for upcoming events)

If it were mine: I would open earlier in the morning so customers can sip a hot chocolate on the slope and savour crepes or others breakfast before a busy day of skiing.

continue

DALUMA amid Berlin

This was the start of my "gotta go out for breakfast as often as I can" - trend in Berlin.  After an 11km bike ride and high expectations, literally:

"I want[ed] it all"

That's the mix of all their creations: Chia pudding and probiotic muesli and coconut tapioca topped with Acerola-Caju (updated to an amazingly fluffy matcha-banana coconut cream), the six nut (now: a brazil - and walnut - cacao topping), and a smooth soft açai-cupuaçu sauce.  It once made a total of 13 different fruits/berries - some of which I had never heard of…  The bowl was super satisfying and truly luscious, any descriptions in words would be inadequate.  But if I try: foreign, fresh, sweet and juicy toppings with intense new flavours, combined with a mix of hearty oats, gooey chia and a harsh but creamy nuttiness.


DALUMA vegan breakfast Berlin

But if you don't want all of it, I highly recommend the probiotic muesli as a base with whatever topping pleasures you most – they're equally stunning.  Or an açai bowl, avocado bread or warm buckwheat porridge. The menu keeps improving by every new creation, even though there didn't seem to be space for that the last I visited.

However, DALUMA is not only made for breakfasts, although that is my time to come.  Their savoury combos have a base (quinoa, lentils, rice, pasta or a raw veggie assembly) with pomegranate-tahini, peanut avocado or almond lime atop it.  There's also unique mixed fresh salads, and daily soups.  Talking about new additions, they now make a vegan "High Omega" if you really want to splurge: salmon sashimi with avocados, fermented cabbages, nuts and seeds on a warm rice base.

DALUMA vegan salad Berlin
Quinoa with dandelion leaves, pomegranate, melon, pumpkin seeds, and a dressing of tahini, orange, dates, cashew, currant, lime, olive oil, tamarin and mustard 😳

All the juices I've tried so far (Pink Fuel, Run Forest Run and Rehab) hit the spot.  They use ingredients – cabbage, charcoal, sweet potato – to make combinations that I wouldn't dare to at home, but they're literally mouth-watering.   Same goes for the smoothies.  Compared to many of these new opening smoothie and juice bars in Germany, 6€ for 400ml definitely isn't a rip off – and if it were, it'd be worth every cent.

DALUMA Smoothie Berlin
Green Giant

I was lucky enough to get to chat with the owners of Da-Lu-Ma.  David, Lukas and Marian. They opened their concept 1.5 years ago.  Their first ambition is to serve the best nutritionally valuable food – thus in cooperation with a nutritionist.  Next up is turning it into scrumptious dishes.  And they definitely have succeeded at both.

Everything is sustainable: organic food, Greenpeace energy, recyclable materials.  Actually even better.  The smoothies and juices come in awesome glass jars, for only 50¢ deposit.  (Which made me so much happier than you could imagine.  Because last year we imported one of those perfectly sized smoothie jars from the US (Kreation Café) and I managed to lose it.  Since then we've been on the lookout for some decent replacement – and right here, tada!  Only 50¢.  Now all my home made smoothies are made to go in Daluma's remnants 🙂

DALUMA Concept Poster, Berlin
double click to enlarge their concept

To anybody who is a foodie, vegan, loves juices, smoothies, organic eateries (or if none of the mentioned, someone who likes to try something new and deliciously exotic) I highly recommend DALUMA.  I should take that back.  I meant to say, I recommend it to everyone!  Thus, I'm really glad that this was my first "breakfast spot" in Berlin – it's impression will last 😌!  And besides, they have a banana sack hanging from the ceiling!

DALUMA Café Berlin


Where? Weinbergstraße 3, 10119 (betwehen Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg) ↑ near U Rosenthaler Platz

When? Weekdays 8 - 20, Saturday 10 - 19, Sunday 10 -18

Cost: breakfasts 5-9€, savoury dishes 5-15€. smoothies and juices 4-7€

If you'd like to check out their Philosophie and moreit's worth reading!

continue

Two acai bowls in München

 ∗ Daddy Long Legs ∗ Bite Delite ∗
continue

My experience of real Mexican food

 • Mexico City - Puebla - Oaxaca - Puerto Escondido - Merida - Tulum - Isla Holbox •
continue

Min favorit København

After my second visit in Copenhagen, I can surely say that city life can't get much better 

continue

Paris by Taste

Paris was an interesting struggle:  one the one hand, plentiful avo-toast cafés* with pricey banana bread and flat whites.  On the other hand famous for their traditional cuisine: viennoiserie pastries dipped into Café au Lait followed by late night pepper steak with fries…  Tough choices, but we found a good mix: waiting in as many lines as we could to get a taste of Brittany's crêpe scene (only knowing Ti Breizh in Hamburg), eating pesto filled snails in the Hogwarts-styled dining halls and scouting out which of those avo-toast cafés are actually worth a next visit… From the moment I arrived, dragging my suitcase up and down cobble-stoned streets to customize my Magnum,  till the last day where we stashed up on squid ink-cumin baguette and Beaufort to munch our way out of Paris… this trip was amongst other things guided by its tastes.

If I'd sample only three places, then:
 Ice cream at Berthillon
Crêpes in Rue de Montparnasse
 Blé Sucré's croissants

although my dad especially liked:
the "unpretentious fine dining in a funky neighbourhood" at chatomat

Friday evening:

\

Pop-up store, I don't know if this is a french invention but Parisians seem to have them all around.  Including foodie versions like by Magnum.  I was worried that I'd regret getting a chain treat when travelling, but I definitely didn't.  This was a one-time experience.  Freshly dipped into it's coat and topped with your choice of nutty, rich or sugary ingredients it didn't only look super attractive but seriously tasted much more flavorful than the new Dare to go Double!

First dinner I chose to be fancy and tranquil. North of Cimétière du Père-Lachaise where my little self had visited Chopin, Oscar Wilde or George Bizet – at chatomat.  I did make the recommended reservation (from one of the CITIx's 60 locals), and thought it was unnecessary for the first hour, but prime ETA seemed to be 20:45 – all guests were couples.  I guess it is the optimal spot for a date:  delectable haute-cuisine in casual surroundings, for a mere 40€.  We enjoyed how classy but unique their dishes were: from savoury to sweet touches with avocado, celery or rhubarb on every other dish; and popcorn-like tasting eggplant crisps on the french version of baba ghanoush, (which was our amuse bouche).  

 

Saturday:

We started off with some fresh fruit on the hand from Marché d'Aligre on our way to scout out Blé Sucré and their croissants.  To make it short: this was by far my best pastry of the whole trip!  And it wasn't just the peaceful neighborhood atmosphere we had while eating them in the park right across the street.  I don't think I've ever eaten a croissant with such an elasticy, soft inside and perfect crispy exterior – left by flakes all over the bench, buttery fingers, and a smiling face.

After strolling through the Marais for some hours, we passed by the first avo-toast caféFragments. We sipped a coffee (very good), and a soy chai latte (also great) while observing the antique racing bikes parked in front of the door.  Half of them with locks (identical fat kryptonite) the other half removed from their pedals (I guess that's another version of a lock) … After discussing a while we concluded that it was pure style.  Just like you buy nice cushions for your café, you can buy retro racing bikes to block cars from hiding the street view.

Not long afterwards we found the second croissant spot : 134 RDT (this patisserie is actually named after its address on Rue de Turenne; only to bad it moved, now it should be called 69 RDS (Rue de Saintonge).  This crescent pastry was also superior, a bit less greasy which taste-wise made its ranking stay under Blé's.

Next we strolled through Marché des Enfants Rouges, a fairly small and covered outdoor market, with many options for lunch: Lebanese, Italian pasta, Caribbean, … and blindly went for the Moroccan cause it had the longest line.  The food wasn't bad but I'd recommend it more for the atmosphere.  Just 10min later (time for Papa's second coffee) it was time for the next avo-toast café: The Broken Arm.  It's the second half of their concept store, unfortunately with similar prices.  But everything else about this slick, little cafe stunned me.  I wish I would have been hungry enough to try the passion fruit cheesecake, or impeccable looking tartines and little salads.  This spot is definitely on my Paris Bucket List.

Sometime in between we decided intertwine our croissant survey with every chocolate macaron we passed …

Macaron, Croissant, Macaron, Croissant, Sleep, Ice Cream, Repeat…

but at some point stopped, after not being able to resist the whole palette of Pierre Hermé's creations – especially the passion fruit.

So to feel real healthy again, I stopped in the first cold pressed juice bar I saw – all organic, and Paris based – and chose Miss Green, squeezed out of fennel, banana, spinach and sprouted seeds.

Then, the worthy detour to Berthillon.  As maybe the best ice cream of this metropolis, it deserves it's own complete island.  Île Saint-Louis.  Here you'll see Berthillon being served at any shop, sourced from their real parlor just around the corner.  It's the one with the huge line that closes in July and August to vacation by Côte d'Azur.  This sublime, creamy and rich glace was definitely worth the talk about it.  I don't know how else to describe it than:

"The dainty scoops reformed themselves after every lick – into reflectively shiny, smooth, sort of sculpted substance."

And although the Caramel au beurre salé was my ultimate favorite, it improved in combination with super deep chocolate flavours or the fruitiest wild berry sorbets.

After some more walking past castles and jardins we fixed dinner at Chartier Bouillon.  No matter how much I googled, I couldn't come up with casual dinner suggestions that satisfied my healthy, meat-less wishes but also represented something french (yeah, I really do love Chipotle, but sorry no. I can't get myself to have burrito bowls whilst in Paris).  So what better than to follow a locals suggestion.  They'll be a really long line, that leads around the corner.  But with its Hogwarts sized dining room, and those attentive typical french waiters whipping around the tables, you won't have to wait more than some minutes.  The ambience of this national historic monument, that opened in 1896 is one-of-a-kind: French.  Filled with locals friends and couples, celebrating families, international students, daughters and dads.  I would highly recommend this place for it's cultural experience and uniqueness.  Although the escargots (snails) stuffed with pesto or an avocado filled with shrimps weren't bad. And my dad was quite pleased with his "real french food" call it pepper-steak and fries.

 

Sunday:

The plan was to stroll through Marché Bastille, grab some fresh fruit and enjoy a lively farmers market before the "real" breakfast: croissant of course 😂.  Well it kinda flipped, because my dad was unpatient enough to luckily order a galette at the first stand he saw: Warm, soft and hearty, with tomatoes (my most hated food) that I somehow liked.  And only when we arrived at Du Pain et des Idées along Canal St. Martin, we realized that they're closed on weekends.  Luckily we quickly found an alternative on the other side of the canal.  Super idyllic three little shops: the florist, followed by Myrthe, a local cantine-epicerie, and lastly the coffee-bar Ten Belles.  Flat white for my dad while I had a difficult time choosing between all of the sandwiches from Myrthe (I ended up taking the baguette with Morbier, arugula, hazelnuts, and some specialty olive oil)   And I regret not having taken any of their local spreads, confitures or craft drinks home.  So at least the artsy parisian chocolate I got my sister hit the spot.

Our next grab of … umm … sugar, cream and egg white was from Berthillon 🍨 again.  We had to come back to try burgered ice cream macarons.  What more can I say?  Raspberry macaron covering glace: Caramel Beurre Salé and the almond around wild berry sorbet – both dribbled with chocolate sauce.  The lady next to us ordered a fancy hot chocolate and got served the scoop of ice cream, next to a bowl of whipped cream and steaming cocoa… we all wondered in what order to mix them, but for sure it tempted me as well.

After viewing EM soccer on the world's largest TV, or being distracted and watching local guys wrestle themselves in some sort of "fun game" we biked to the touristy but serious crêpe-full street Rue de Montparnasse.  It's by the Montparnasse train station, where all trains from Brittany used to arrive – and all the galette masters unloaded their craft.  I counted 13 within half a block.  So many to choose from and we still decided to wait in the one and only line at Crêperie Josselin.  Quite different from the open faced, thin, gallettes I saw elsewhere, these were super dense, triangularly folded which filled them with flavor and goodness.  The interior made me feel like in a vacation hut of Brittany; of course strengthened by their local cidre before and Crêpe caramel salée afterwards.  So packed that you couldn't get out of your seat, super quick service – nevertheless the only queue; that's proof for how good it was.

 

Monday:

We built up some croissant appetite by running along the replanted old railway tracks (Promenade Plantée) and were disappointed by finding that Blé Sucré had taken Monday off.  So I got a pain au chocolat at another bakery that had great baguettes (one with squid ink and cumin) which we packed up for the dinner picnic in the train.  Then we went riding towards Karl Lagerfelds home (the 7th Arr) to one of the oldest patisseries in France, Poilane, famous for their sourdough bread. We admired the sculpted soccer ball bread, and ate only viennoiserie pastries.

Not much later we decided to check out what the security controlled super market was about. It had more in a common with a high-end department store than any grocery shop I've been to.  Was it 125g of raspberries which cost 9€ ?  The cheese had a reasonable price, so we stashed up on Beaufort, to accompany the baguettes later on.  And lastly we finally got to try an Eclair.

Just afterwards we stopped by Coutume Café for the last French coffee.  I had pre-rated this as another avo-toast café, but it wasn't.   With the flair of a chemistry lab, one of nine unique coffee machines in the world, a spacey and casual interior, it sold Australian as well as French pastries.  So before I ran out of the chance for all those French goodies, I got another Choux pastry – a Profiterole (that is a puff pastry filled with custard, cream and in our case raspberries.  It looked very cute ☺️.  (Avo Toast Café Nr. 2 on my bucket list)

There wasn't much more to the day then biking through the Latin-Quarter, getting a short insight to wonderful Jardin du Luxembourg, and a last taste of Berthillon before hopping in the 8h train ride back home and eating our way through french remnants before arriving back in Hamburg!


∗ Avo-Toast Café: To make it easy, I will call all these cafés that 1. know their coffee machines, 2. can make some good granola or 3.  avocado toast, 4. be creative with their pancakes and 5. accommodate vegans: avo-toast café.  And yes, some of them might not even serve avo(cado) - on sourdough bread, or the poached egg  If you still don't know what I mean: Creative (or mainstream) partially diet restricted and instagram worthy spots that haven't been there for more than 5 years.

 

continue

Nook: Smoothie Bowls in Bali

♦ Never Stop Exploring♦ Bali ♦ Smoothie Bowls ♦ rice fields ♦
continue

Skiing in Les 3 Vallées

This year we tested a French ski resort after many years of Swiss skiing (Saas-Fee in the Valais and Zuoz, a five-lift idyll in the Engadin), which never disappointed.  Our standards were high and didn't get fulfilled immediately – but by the end we were enthusiastic about almost every part of this ski area and hope to be back next year again!

continue