Café de la Semaine's

Luke Edward Hall
Claire Ptak
Apollonia Poilane
Jeanne Damas
Caroline de Maigret

In collaboration with British artist Luke Edward Hall, Semaine transforms hotel Le Pigalle’s lobby during its two-week Parisian residency into a flâneur’s dream. Pull up a chair and open up the menu to discover Luke Edward Hall’s playful illustrations. Pink tablecloths with scalloped green stitching, whimsical calligraphy, and limited edition art prints evoke a medley of tasteful modernity and the dreamy nostalgia of bygone days. Designed as a throwback to the old world charm of café society, Café de la Semaine creates a space to embody the flâneur’s creative mindset—if only for a moment.

Dreaming up Café de la Semaine, we couldn’t help but imagine the fortuitous meeting of our mascot Tobias the Tortoise and Luke Edward Hall. Rushing from landmark to landmark, an artist struggled to put pencil to paper. Disheartened and uninspired, he stopped for a pause café. Watching the bustle of pedestrians jockey for position on the narrow pavement, he noticed a small creature part the crowd. Travelling at his own pace, Tobias, a bright green tortoise, caught his eye. Tossing a few euros on the table, he leapt up to follow him. Slowly retracing his steps, the French capital unfolded before them. He paused to sketch—first slowly, then rapidly—he transposed the rich possibilities of the city streets to the pages of his notebook. Pages flying, the pair whipped up a plan: In the north of Paris, in a neighbourhood steeped in la histoire d’art, an ephemeral café appeared overnight at the base of Montmartre.

But what is a flâneur, you may ask? Charles Baudelaire first describes this attentive wanderer in his poetry collection Les fleurs du mal, followed by a more concrete definition in his 1863 essay “The Painter of Modern Life,” published in Le Figaro. However, we credit Walter Benjamin for the word’s lasting impact thanks to his analysis in The Arcades Project. In the 19th century, the French capital was increasingly dense, the streets teeming with bodies, and fashionable covered arcades became all the rage. Parting the crowds, flâneurs took to the city streets with leashed turtles and let their slow-moving pets set the pace. The Parisian “street becomes a dwelling place for the flâneur; he is as much at home among the facades of the houses as a citizen within his four walls," Benjamin wrote. In context of the Industrial Revolution, the figure of the flâneur and his leashed turtle was a radical act of defiance against a rapidly shifting world—a refusal to engage with society’s dictates.

Though the term is enjoying a recent cultural resurgence, academic Lauren Elkin’s 2016 Flâneuse: Women Walk the City points out that the flâneur never really left us. Proposing a feminine alternative to the masculine-gendered flâneur, Elkin identifies famous flâneuses George Sand, Jean Rhys, Sophie Calle, and Agnes Varda—women who shift their experience of being seen to seeing.

Turning to pop culture, the figure of the flâneur remains influential in depictions of individuals interacting with cityscapes. In Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise trilogy, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy’s characters privileged conversation and wandering over any semblance of an action-driven plot, and Greta Gerwig pirouetted through crosswalks in Frances Ha. In Begin Again, Kiera Knightley and Mark Ruffalo craft a debut album inspired by the rhythms and sounds of New York City’s streets.

As society continues to encourage constant connectivity via smartphones, a creative pushback is emerging. Arguably, our newfound interest in flânerie concerns itself with mindfulness. Taking the long way over the shortcut, phone tucked away out of sight, the flâneur elevates idleness into the art of paying attention. Café de la Semaine creates a retreat from our chaotic pace, a place to take stock or simply a pit stop for un café à emporter to fuel an afternoon of fruitful flànerie.

By Lauren Sarazen for Semaine.

Photography by Bonny Peter.

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Gift Guide

Gift Guide

Flâneur Favourites

Outfit your favourite flâneur for adventure with these perfect parting gifts. Whether they tote them along as they hit the ground running (or strolling), or use them to feather their nest, it’s hard for these thoughtful touches to go unnoticed.

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Interior

Interior

Step Inside Café de la Semaine

Tap into the transformative magic of the city streets to enliven your interiors. Taking inspiration from your wanderings, adorn your home with flâneur flair.

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Recipe

Recipe

Fuel for Flânerie

Fortify yourself for a day of thoughtful exploration with the perfect cup of coffee and a warm croissant, fresh from the oven.

Please note the Semaine team have not tried this recipe, and have been advised it might take 2 days to prepare…

The Coffee

Ingredients

  • Fresh Coffee Beans
  • Purified Water

Method

01

Start with whole beans. Opting for whole beans rather than pre-ground coffee means the precious oils of your favourite beans are still trapped inside, waiting for you to take a coffee break with maximum flavour.

02

Grind your beans and measure your coffee. For a balanced taste, you’ll need to use 2 tablespoons of coffee to every 6 ounces of water.

03

Evenly saturate the grounds with water, allowing the coffee to absorb the liquid for about 30 seconds before stirring.

04

Let your coffee steep for about 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Set a timer to avoid a bitter brew.

05

Choose your favourite cup, and pour. Sometimes the flavour can adjust depending on the temperature. Figure out the taste profile of your beans, and adjust your methods accordingly.

THE PERFECT COFFEE

The Croissant

Ingredients

  • 3½ cups all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for dusting
  • ⅔ cup water, heated to 115º
  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast, divided
  • ⅔ cup room-temperature whole milk
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2½ sticks unsalted butter, chilled, plus 3 tablespoons, softened
  • 1 egg, beaten

Method

01

Make the preferment: In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the flour with the water and a pinch of the yeast until smooth. Cover in plastic wrap and let sit somewhere warm for 5 hours.

02

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the preferment and the remaining 2½ cups of flour, the remaining yeast, the milk, sugar, salt and softened butter. Mix until a dough comes together, then transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, 2 minutes. On a parchment-lined sheet pan, shape the dough into a rectangle and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

03

The next day, laminate the dough: On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a 14-by-20-inch horizontal rectangle.

04

On a floured sheet of parchment paper, beat the 2½ sticks of unsalted butter with a rolling pin to flatten. Using flour as needed, roll the butter into a 9-by-13-inch rectangle. Peel off the parchment paper and place the butter insert on the right half of the dough.

05

Fold the dough over the butter and seal the edges. Fold the top third and bottom third of the dough in like a letter and place the folded dough, seal down, on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Chill for 30 minutes.

06

Roll the chilled dough into a 14-by-16-inch horizontal rectangle, then complete a trifold, folding the left and right ends in like a letter. Chill the dough for 30 minutes. Repeat this process 2 more times for a total of 4 trifolds, and then chill again for 30 minutes.

07

Roll the laminated dough into a 9-by-40-inch horizontal rectangle (this will take about 10 minutes). Using a sharp knife, cut 5-inch notches into the top edge of the rectangle. Begin to cut triangles, cutting to the centerpoint of each notch. You should end up with 14 triangles.

08

Working from the wide end of the triangle, roll the dough into a croissant shape, tucking the end of the dough underneath. Place the rolled croissants on 2 parchment-lined sheet pans, 2 inches apart. Lightly brush each one with some of the beaten egg, then place them somewhere warm to proof for 2 hours, until the croissants have risen and you can see the layers of butter.

09

Preheat the oven to 350º. After proofing, brush the croissants again with the remaining egg, then bake, rotating every 10 minutes, until golden brown and risen, 30 minutes. Let cool completely, then serve.

THE PERFECT CROISSANT

Travel

Travel

Promenade Paris

Harken back to Paris’s artistic heyday with a stroll around Paris’s 9th and 18th arrondissements. Let Café de la Semaine serve as a thematic pause café as you explore the hidden gems tucked away on the Butte’s cobblestone streets.

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LE PASSE-MURAILLE

PLACE MARCEL AYMÉ, 75018 PARIS

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Art Gallery

Art Gallery

Art Gallery

Combat the grim realities of modern life with Café de la Semaine’s selection of Luke Edward Hall’s art prints. Inspired by Jean Cocteau’s whimsical line drawings, Luke’s singular vision conjures a colourful world.

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Tips

Tips

How to be a Flâneur or Flâneuse

Like famous flâneurs Jean Rhys, George Sand, and Charles Baudelaire, you too can take to the streets. Unsure of how to start? Let these pointers be your guide.

IDLE HOURS

1

SET OFF WITHOUT A SET PURPOSE. SEE WHAT THE CITY STREETS WILL REVEAL TO YOU WHEN YOU WALK THEM WITH NO SET AGENDA.
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AIRPLANE MODE

2

KEEP YOUR PHONE IN YOUR POCKET AND YOUR EYES ON THE HORIZON. IF YOU MUST RECORD YOUR STROLL, BRING ALONG SKETCHBOOK INSTEAD.
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OPT FOR THE UNCHARTED

3

MOVE PAST THE EDGES OF YOUR KNOWN TERRITORY. TAKE THE WINDING STREET YOU’VE NEVER WALKED BEFORE AND WALK FREELY THROUGH “THE OTHER SIDE OF TOWN”.
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GO YOUR OWN WAY

4

RESIST THE URGE TO TRAVEL IN PACKS; IN ORDER TO TUNE INTO THE SECRETS OF THE STREETS YOU SHOULD LEAVE YOUR GANG AT HOME BUT OF COURSE, THERE’S NO HARM IN PENCILLING IN A GROUP APÉRO LATER TO SHARE YOUR DISCOVERIES.
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EMBRACE THE UNUSUAL

5

EVERY BUDDING FLÂNEUR SHOULD LEARN TO LEAN INTO THE UNEXPECTED. DISCOVER WHAT PIQUES YOUR INTEREST AND FOLLOW IT INTO THE UNKNOWN.
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À Bientôt

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