Thursday, November 5, 2015

Autumn afternoon in Bordeaux & Cafe Suspendu

Beautiful colors and weather to enjoy 

It's Fall in Bordeaux.  I have to say that these past two months have been colorful, warmer than normal and just plain beautiful.  To be honest, I don't remember seeing so much color in the leaves in previous years.  Maybe I'm more in tuned with nature or perhaps, it's just been an extra beautiful season! Either way, I'm just happy to enjoy it each and everyday!
When we have days like this, I love wandering the streets of Bordeaux, taking in the atomosphere and enjoying the last few warm days before the rainy Winter sets in.  I love the cafe culture here in Bordeaux.  People stop, sit and enjoy a cup of coffee.  It may be small but it's the life here.  You don't see people walking around with coffee mugs or plastic cups and drinking as they walk - it's just not done here.  It's called savoring the moment and enjoying some time to relax either by yourself or with a friend.  To meet for coffee is a common way to catch up with a friend.

So this afternoon, my friend, a fellow blogger and I enjoyed taking in the warm breezy air of Bordeaux and sat down for a coffee at Chez Fred located in the Place du Palais.  This Square is located just behind the famous Port Cailhau along the river.  It's designed as an open square with a beautiful low fountain in the middle.  The lovely trees with their yellow leaves added  beautiful color to the square.  Just so peaceful to sit, relax and talk.
This cafe has long been a fixture at Place du Palais and I love the vintage signs and quaint cafe tables with chairs purposely facing outward to allow the customers to people watch and enjoy the outdoors.  It's so hard to believe it's November.
But there is one very special thing that I noticed inside this cafe and my friend explained it to me. They participate in what's called "Cafe Suspendu".  Mmm...That phrase doesn't really translate into English well - but it simply means a cup of coffee is available for those who can't afford it. A type of "pay it forward" kind of system.  As you can see on the chalkboard, there are 3 available.  It's a simple concept, those who are able can donate toward a coffee for someone not so fortunate.  Then when someone who can't afford to pay wants to order one, they just indicate that they want a "cafe suspendu" when they are asked to pay.  It's a nice gesture. The board or sign is prominently displayed, so people know that this cafe participates. 

Apparently after doing a bit more research on this concept, it's been in practice at Chez Fred since 2013 and the idea had originated in Naples, Italy.  Chez Fred was one of the first cafes in this area to iniciate the concept in Bordeaux.  It had been in practice in other French cities like Grenoble, Brest and Paris.  Now many other cafes and other establishments participate in this "pay it forward" simple gesture.
Apparently, according to my friend, Cassandra of Live Love Bordeaux, this concept is also done in Belgium.  She explained to me that barber shops, hair salons and other stores can participate and offer something to someone not so fortunate.  In this case, it's a coffee, but it could be a muffin, a pastry or even a sandwich - haircuts or shaves - it all depends on the shop. In Bordeaux, apparently there is also "Baguette Suspendu" or bread made available for those who can't afford to pay. I have to say that's a very warming gesture and I'm glad to see in in practice.  From an article I read, it's used most often by students or retirees who are on very limited fixed incomes.

This is my friend Cassandra, who writes a new blog in French called Live Love Bordeaux. Check it out through the link.  It's a fun and nice way to practice your French - for those you who want to give it a try.  

Enjoy the rest of your week and I hope your Fall is as beautiful as ours.  Don't forget to check out my facebook page where you will find a cute video recap of our Fall.

Lou Messugo


  1. Coffee sharing or suspended coffee - I have seen it in Victoria, BC and I love the idea.

    1. I was happy to see this concept in place as I know there are people on the streets who can't afford to by a cup of coffee. It's also nice to see that people being generous enough to offer one for others. To be honest a simple cup of coffee around here ranges from 1 euro 50 to 2 euros 50 depending on where you are buying it - so to donate that much to "pay it forward" it a small but significant gesture.

  2. What a pretty little tour around your autumnal streets. It's been (and still is here) a phenomenal autumn weather and colourwise, I'm still loving it. Thanks for linking to #AAF you should encourage your friend to link up next time, we've had blogs in French before and I'm all for having more.

    1. Thanks Phoebe. I do love Bordeaux in all seasons - each one unique. I will encourage her to link up next time. She's just starting out...& like you -has a rental house which she's hoping to publicize too.


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