Whether you have long hours of sightseeing planned or just want to spend your time relaxing, one truth is universal: your day can truly begin only once you’ve had your coffee. Coffee culture has seen major growth in France in recent years, and Normandy is no exception. Along with its numerous sites to explore, Normandy features many trendy places to drink good coffee and grab a bite to eat too. Here are our top five places to enjoy a yummy cuppa:
Social Perk, Rouen
♪ “I’ll Be There For You!” ♫ – Remember the Central Perk from the hit TV-series Friends? This coffee shop tries its best to recreate the atmosphere of the place where Rachel, Ross and their buddies used to hang out most of the time. 3,500 miles away from New York, the Social Perk is located right at the foot of Rouen Cathedral, in the historic city centre. If the surroundings are as French as it gets, the cafe itself is a replica of a nineties local American coffee shop, with brick-layered walls, inviting seating and guitars hanging from the ceiling. The cafe has nostalgia written all over it, but most of the clients who like to spend their afternoons here are probably too young to even remember Friends. They come to the Social Perk to enjoy sweet, creamy coffee, colourful donuts and bagels with a twist. Yum!
Open 10am – 7pm | 43 rue de la Tour de Beurre, 76000 Rouen
Cargo Coffee Shop, Le Havre
Right bang in the heart of the UNESCO-listed city centre rebuilt by architect Auguste Perret, Cargo Coffee Shop is one of the latest additions to Le Havre’s bustling food & drink scene. The place has a real vibe to it, with a minimalist decor and carefully selected details which give a unique character and create a welcoming atmosphere. Here you’ll find some delicious coffee and friendly, smiling staff who want to help build the foundations of a new coffee scene in this unique city, which was recently crowned a hipster heaven by The Indy. Cargo also boasts a spread of smoothies, bagels and pastries that will make your belt tight and your mouth water. Don’t miss out.
Open 10am – 7pm | 110 Rue Victor Hugo, 76600 Le Havre
Keys & Co, Caen
From New Zealand to Caen! When Mylene and her daughter Stephanie left their homeland to settle in Normandy, it didn’t take them long to figure out what they wanted to do here. They took over a restaurant in a neighbourhood of the city undergoing gentrification and transformed it into a coffee shop such as the ones they loved back home. The result is Keys & Co, a trendy, urban cafe favoured by locals and tourists alike. This is a place you can spend your entire day at, wolfing down Eggs Benedict in the morning, avocado toast at lunch and a slice of Oreo cheesecake in the afternoon while sipping on a flat white. There’s no place like home… unless it’s Keys & Co.
Open 9:30am – 7pm | 45 avenue du six juin, 14000 Caen
QG Coffee Shop, Verneuil-sur-Avre
Nestled in the heart of this small town in the south of Normandy, the QG is a surprising mix and match of French and Anglo-Saxon vibes and cultures. Coffee lovers come here to savour lattes, milkshakes and cookies, but also gaufres, croque monsieurs and Nutella muffins. Looking out onto the ruins of an old church, the cafe offers great views of the historic town centre, making it a scenic spot to relax with a warm cup of coffee and a comforting treat. The portions are hearty, the service friendly, and the wooden decor makes for a cosy drinking atmosphere, so you’re sure to be satisfied on all fronts here!
Open 11am – 7pm | 11 place Saint-Jean, 27130 Verneuil-sur-Avre
Le Caffè, Cherbourg
Cherbourg has always been open to the world. The town is famous for being the Titanic’s port of call on 10 April 1912, before the ship set off to New York. It’s no surprise then that Le Caffè’s menu features drinks and dishes from around the globe. As the name suggests, coffee is king here, with full-flavoured espressos that would stand up to scrutiny in Rome, but this centrally-located coffee shop also serves traditional American cheesecakes and even colourful pizza slices for lunch. Creative homemade cakes are the speciality however, and the place is often packed on chilly afternoons, when the locals come and warm up here with a cuppa and something sweet.
Open 9am – 6:30pm | 31 rue Albert Mahieu, 50100 Cherbourg
For more information on food and drink in Normandy, visit the Normandy Tourism website.
Cover photo © Le Caffè | Text: Ben Collier