Area codes: Grand Maison’s Céline Fouarge on Liège

Having recently taken the plunge into the business world, Céline and Fanny opened up Grand Maison, a much needed addition to the lacking coffee culture in Liège. As Céline admits, Liège is not as easy as Brussels when it comes to diving into new business ventures, but with her recent opening, things are slowly changing for the good. In the meantime, Céline shares some her top classics, and few new additions in and around Liège – she talks about Italian joints, nature walks, and flower picking in the city.  

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©David Widart

My name is Céline, I am 33 years old, and I worked as a graphic designer for ten years. For the past six months, I’ve been working on opening an espresso bar with Fanny, where we also will serve breakfast and lunch. Just two months ago, I left my job to really get going on Grand Maison. Initially, we just wanted to offer a place for people to sit around the table and have discussions. Eventually, this idea evolved to offering a place that has good coffee, which is not easy to find in Liège.

Because Liège is so small, it is easy to find your way around town. At the same time, because of this, you often encounter the same people. The best part of Liège being a small city though, is that there are loads of opportunities to start new things.

I grew up in the outskirts of Liège, then I studied here for three years. So, in a way, I am always rediscovering Liège, since I knew it when I was a student and when my parents brought me here as a kid. Some people here are happy to stay in Liège, and they do not move. On the other hand, it is easy to travel from Liège to Brussels for a concert or something. But it is not the same the other way around.

Yet, there are some good places in Liège, like Thé ou Café, where it feels like you are in a little Italian café. It’s authentic, with good coffee, and there is an old fashion ham cutting machine – typical Italian.

To have an evening drink, visit Cupper Café. They are also open during lunch-time.

As for restaurants, I have mostly Italian addresses, because Liège has some ones! For instance, there is Trattoria Maccheroni. They have a modest menu, and you must go during the week and make reservations in advance, or else you won’t get a place. I like their Lobster pasta. There are also places like Lequet where you can have typical meatballs from Liège. Really basic, but really good.

At Grand Maison, we like collaborate with the butcher at Colson & Fils. It’s a great place to get your meat in the center of Liège, their slogan is «tout est bon», which is French for ‘everything is good’. They are on Rue Neuvice, a cute little road.

As for bread, there is really only one good place in Liège, a bakery where they make their own flour called Un Pain C’est Tout. The baker there is very passionate. It’s in Outremeuse, which is a nice neighbourhood to visit as well.

For books, I go to Le Livre au Trésor. They give great advice when it comes to finding children’s books, so I visit them for children as well as for myself. Superflu is a great design shop which opened a couple of months ago.

I love the well-known vintage market of Saint Pholien, on Friday morning at Boulevard de la Constitution. It’s just in front of Saint Luc, and it runs all throughout the boulevard so I would stop by on my way to class. You can really find good stuff there. To buy plants, I go to Prêle. Just a fifteen minute drive from Liège, they give great advice when it comes to designing a garden. Next to where we live, there is a flower field without an official name. You can pick your own flowers and just pay for what you take. They have really nice plants, which we use sometimes for our brunches.

For art, unfortunately the Museum of Contemporary Art is closed, but there is also the Gallerie Central, which we visit more for urban art. Their exhibitions are great, too.

Liège has other great initiatives in terms of art or culture. There is Space, a cultural center which has a lot of really interesting things going on. Young Girls is a small record label run by Yves Billet. They organise concerts from time to time, in different places, with fifteen people there at the most. It’s a bit hard to find the concert venues sometimes, but it’s great fun.

For family outings, we like to go out for brunch on Sunday mornings. Our favourite is situated on one of the highest points of Liege, called À La Maison. This is a non-lucrative association that is only open on Sundays. After brunch, we walk along the slopes of the citadel, where we have a superb view of Liège. Then we can go down to the center, which is only five minutes away. We can also go to Théâtre à Denis, a classical puppet theater often featuring Tchantchès and Nanesse, typical folklore characters from Liège. Sometimes, we go for a walk in the Fagne, a natural region in greater Liège –  I would go there every weekend when I was a kid. It is a really swampy area, and there weren’t so many duckboards trails to walk on, so I remember always being afraid of falling in the swamps.

Laiterie du Boubou is fifteen minutes outside of Liège. It’s a bit lost in the forest and you really have to drive there. La Laiterie is a small eatery attended by an elderly couple, probably over 70 years old.  The woman cooks and the man serves the tables and their bacon and eggs tart is incredibly good. It’s a good place if you have some have time on your hands and the patience to wait a bit for your order.

A la Maison
Rue des Glacis 89
Boucherie Colson & Fils
42 En Neuvice
Café Lequet
Quai sur Meuse 17
Cupper Caffe
Rue Saint-Barthélémy 1
Grand Maison
7 Quai de la Goffe
Livre aux trésors
Pl. Xavier-Neujean 27/A
Musée Tchantchès
Rue Surlet 56
Ancienne chaussée romaine 76
Saint Pholien
Boulevard de la Constitution
SPACE/In Cité Mondi asbl
Féronstrée 116
Galerie Cathédrale 54 
Thé ou café
Boulevard d’Avroy 23
Trattoria Maccheroni
Féronstrée, 95
Un Pain C’est Tout 
Rue de la loi, 20