Finding fulfillment in a Weimerskirch café
Many of us turn to books as a solitary escape from the stresses and pressures of daily life. Café manager and writer Lili Fouet, however, sees literature as a sociable activity to be shared, which is why she opened the first literary café in Luxembourg City.
The mother-of-one, who has worked in banking and even for the Luxembourg Royal Court, spent years searching for fulfillment and passion in work.
Like the character in her favourite book, Flaubert's “Madame Bovary”, after whom the café is named, she realised she could only be happy by following her heart.
She realised she could only be happy by following her heart
“Madame Bovary is a very important book in my life. I'm not suicidal. But the thing I share with her is I was so unhappy. She was in a small village where everyone knew each other. She couldn't bear her life anymore,” Lili told wort.lu/en, adding: “I realised I wasn't happy any more because I wasn't doing what I wanted. I don't want to go my whole life to an office, to a job that my heart isn't in.”
A writer since childhood
The writer, who is currently working on an autobiography, first began writing as a child. After living in France, she was placed in care and then moved to Luxembourg to live with her grandmother at a young age.
Lili said that she would make up stories as a way to conceal her real situation to peers at school and as an escape. The imagination never stopped and, as an adult, she sought a way to write while working with other passionate writers and artists.
The opportunity arose when the Ville de Luxembourg appealed for candidates to manage the traditional “Am Duerf” café in the Weimerskirch district.
Lili's bid to open a literary café there was successful and the “Café Litteraire Le Bovary” first opened its doors on November 1, 2015.
It's one of the oldest cafés in Luxembourg. It has a special feeling about it
“It's one of the oldest cafés in Luxembourg. It has a special feeling about it. When you look at it from above, it's amazing to see. Maybe it's an inner voice that told me you have to be here,” Lili explained.
The cosy space is tastefully decorated with vintage furniture and details like dainty china cups and saucers, giving customers the feeling they are visiting a beloved aunt's home. Great care is taken over the menu, which changes daily and offers food for the soul as well as the stomach.
“The chef is Italian. I think she goes very well with the place because she cooks with her heart. It's really like home cooking. I waited a long time to find her. She's marvellous!” Lili explained.
Books everywhere you look
Then there are the books. Lili has formed a partnership with Alinea bookstore, enabling her to sell new and antique books, which adorn almost every surface of the café.
The manager has plenty more ideas for the quirky venue. In addition to stocking more books and installing a piano, she plans to host a number of literary events, such as writing and other workshops, talks and book signings.
It was only a dream to have people from every nationality and now it's coming true
Just a few months in, the project appears to be gaining momentum. “People are coming from all over the place. It was only a dream to have people from every nationality and now it's coming true,” she said.
Lili said she hopes that by bringing literature and writers together in the café, she can share the happiness that books have brought her.
She said: “I want to improve this world. I want people who are unhappy to find hope and find themselves here because I'm doing what I want, and I think it's going to be successful.”