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Posts tagged ‘Tea’

Marrakech on Paper: Tea at the Café de France

As The Daily Norm’s great Marrakech series continues, I am feeling as inspired to create artwork reflecting the trip as I am to share those special holiday moments with you on this blog. Looking back to one of my earliest posts, you will remember me telling you about our very fortuitous tea at the emblematic Cafe de France; fortuitous because of the luck we had in arriving just as the best corner table became free with its perfect view of the bustling Jeema el Fna square. Having since painted one of my favourite afternoon spots – the terrace at the Riad 19 La Ksour – it was perhaps inevitable that I would follow it with a depiction of that other great afternoon experience at the Cafe de France. After all, with its amazing sun set view, its charismatic zig zag floor and tiled walls, and the sun blinds up ahead creating cosiness to its well-appointed terrace, there were plenty of details at the Cafe de France to capture as I went about immortalising the occasion.

Cafe de France FINAL

Tea at the Café de France, Marrakech (2017 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

The result is rather complex for a collection of gouache paintings otherwise characterised by their relative simplicity, but it makes for a fine addition to my collection of holiday illustrations, and another way in which our Marrakech trip will be long rooted in the forefront of my imagination.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit 

Paris v London: What ever happened to British Café Culture?

I was reading the post of one of my favourite Paris-based bloggers, Becoming Madame, the other day which described a truly resonant and idyllic scene which she witnessed when sitting inside a Parisian café. Like many of the readers who commented on the post, I was struck by how easily one can be drawn into the romanticised ideal of the Parisian café. It was the same when I was there two weeks ago: There’s something about Parisian cafes which exudes effortless elegance. Some of them are tatty, have tired looking waiters who have been doing the same job for years, browning mirrors and horrible toilets. But there’s something about them, with their hand-written blackboards, mirrored walls, wicker chairs and round tables squeezed outside, and cosy booths inside set amongst an array of old posters and photographs, that just IS romantic and offers us  the very epitome of café culture. This quintessential idyllic view of the French café was very much indulged in my favourite film of all time, Amélie, and yet, despite the cinematic interpretation, the quirky little cafe  captured in than film is wholly representative of reality.

My queuing experience in Starbucks yesterday

So all of this got me thinking (while stood in a massive queue in Starbucks yesterday), while the streets of Paris are literally dotted all over with cafés and brasseries on every corner, each inviting us to indulge with its cherry red awnings and cosy pavement heaters, why is it that in London, the best we can manage is a starbucks or a Cafe Nero every 100 metres? What happened to the Lyons Teahouses which were at the centre of polite society? Or the little privately run café to which everyone would flock for a gossip? In Paris you sit down and are greeted (not always immediately, warranted) by the friendly(ish) face of a smart French waiter. You order your coffee, you sit back, and you indulge in the sweet pleasure that is people watching. In London you queue for a coffee for what seems like an age. You can attempt to sit down, but most of the cafes are turned over to the takeaway trade, so seating is both limited and purposefully uncomfortable so that the turnaround is quick and no one stays too long. Because of the people rushing in and out, the doors are always open. Your experience is cold and drafty and usually, because of lack of accommodation you have to leave with coffee in a paper cup, the small hole in the lid badly designed for sipping so that generally you get half of the scalding liquid down your face before you’ve managed to sit down and enjoy it. And yet the thing is, these cafés are always full, and you get the feeling that in London there really is a growing coffee culture. So why can’t we have the relaxed café culture of Paris?

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