The Belgian bakery chain offers a communal dining experience: you sit on a large table next to strangers sharing jars of jam, chocolate spreads, sugar, salt, pepper, olive oil, newspapers and magazines.
Take a seat next to a neighbour, share the Brunette and be reminded that, even in the big city, we are a community.
8 thoughts on “Le Pain Quotidien”
Looks like a delightful place. You didn’t have many wide-angle shots so I couldn’t tell how large the place is but it must be fairly popular and crowded.
Interesting observation, Patrix. I always seem to have taken my 50 mm lens (which, with a 1.6 crop factor makes it an 80 mm lens), so no wonder all the shots have a very narrow angle.
It is a very popular place. Only on weekdays (when, on a break from work, I would wander about in Brussels and drop in at one of their outlets) I would sometimes have the table all for myself.
They have a few outlets in the U.S too, apparently.
“Take a seat next to a neighbour, share the Brunette …”
i wondered whether brussels or amsterdam was being referred to, until i saw the next photo. i take it that brunette is some kind of a drink (or is it belgian for coffee?).
i am yet to come to terms with how europeans have a decimal comma! each time i transit through europe, this gets me. is this practice followed elsewhere too? do all european countries follow it? this quaintness is probably similar to how we indians (and others in the subcontinent) use lakhs and crores. does anyone else in the world have commas after the lakh’s position? [i hate to admit it, but only in the last few months did this peculiarity in our numeric system strike me as out of the ordinary – earlier, i had just taken both systems for granted].
I remember, during the days when I was surprised by it and talked about it, one German refusing to believe that other countries use the period, not comma, as the decimal symbol. These days I hardly notice it.
my kind of place!!!!!!
I found your comment on the communal atmosphere at “Le Pain Quotidien interesting for someone who lives in Germany.
In the early sixties just after I had gotten out of two years of military
duty at the home of the 101st Airborne Division, I found myself in
Zürich, enrolled at school. Talk about culture shock. Sitting in a restaurant, by myself, at a table for two (the place was full), I was introduced to the phrase “Ist da noch frei?” (is that place yet free?).
Not knowing what else to do, I truthfully said “yes” and the (Swiss) stranger sat down, ordered and I became introduced to the wonderful European custom of communal breaking bread with total strangers.
Something in my personality and heart adapted immediately to this custom. I was recently back in Zürich and Berlin, and felt at home again
with a custom we Americans have never really generally adopted. My wife, a born and bred New Yorker, seemed to be delighted with this arrangement also. We have this chain of restaurants in NYC also, but somehow it does not seem the same. I have tried “Ist da noch frei?” (in English of course) in Starbucks, which is always jammed with the Starbucks Laptop Lounge Lizards, with some success. Possibly the worldwide travel of my countrymen has loosened them up a bit and they do not consider me a wierdo or an imminent danger.
It is a wonderful custom, yes. It was only in Le Pain Quotidien that we experienced it fully, and enjoyed every moment of it.
Starbucks is a place that attracts a lot of variety, so perhaps most things are ‘okay’.
I feel the need to add a small post script here, whille everyone is feeling warm and fuzzy about the Belgians, one should read W.G. Sebald’s
“Rings of Saturn” and Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” to see what King Leopold and his countrymen got up to in the Congo in the 19th Century. Sorry for the damper, folks.