Bern : Cafés and café-bars
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Art Café, Gurtengasse 3. Bright, trendy café just off the main shopping streets that discovers a new line in studied urban dissipation after the shops shut.

Brasserie Lorraine, Quartiergasse 17. Just about the last café in Bern still owned by a co-operative, with excellent, inexpensive food, a great location high above the river, wood floors and a summer terrace. Games galore fill the cupboards for free use, and the Sunday brunch is the best in Bern. A cosy, calm meeting place for alternative types and politicos. Bus #20 to Lorraine (direction Wyler) – Quartiergasse is a little ahead on the left. Closed Mon.

Café Litteraire, in Stauffacher bookshop, Neuengasse 25. Cosy espresso bar in Bern’s largest bookshop, with snacks and newspapers. Closed Sun.

Café des Pyrénées, Kornhausplatz 17. Jovial and unpretentious meeting place for artists, alcoholics and others with loud voices. Equal quantities of twenty- and forty-somethings crowd the place out nightly, with the Ringgenberg next door catching the overflow. Closed Sun.

Kornhauscafé, in the Kornhaus. The vaulted and renovated interior of the city’s former granary is now home to a starkly postmodern-style café, with coiffed customers and pricey desserts and sandwiches. A cool contrast to the raucous Pyrénées opposite.

Kornhauskeller, below the Kornhaus. An atmospheric subterranean frescoed beerhall that was under renovation at the time of writing – perhaps the change of ownership will improve the waiters’ tempers. Formerly, it offered live music nightly, a folkloric show on summer Mondays and solid Berner fare to soak up the alcohol.

Du Nord, Lorrainestrasse 2 (031/332 23 38). A quality Lorraine café-bar and eaterie, offering a nice mixture between heavy meat-and-potatoes dishes and lighter veggie options. A meal might only come to Fr.23 in the evening, or as little as Fr.13 at lunchtime. All the food is organic and comes from small local producers ensuring freshness, and monthly dance events and occasional concerts add to the allure. Bus #20 to Gewerbeschule (direction Wyler). Closed Wed.

Reitschule (aka Reithalle), graffitied buildings next to the railway bridge 5min north of the train station. See also box p.224. Co-operative-run bastion of Bernese counterculture. The hash-smoky café-bar (named Sous Le Pont) is uniquely amiable; however, if sharing a scratched-up table with a green-haired character in a holey sweater rolling a joint isn’t your idea of fun, you should head elsewhere. A red traffic light means table service, green means bar service. Note that dope smoking is forbidden noon–2pm & 7–10pm. Open Mon & Sat 5pm–1am, Tues–Fri 11am–1am.

Zum Blauen Engel, Seidenweg 9b. Cosy student café near the university, with objets trouvés, worn gilt mirrors, hosts of candles and a crowd of young, arty regulars creating a pleasantly seductive atmosphere in which to while away the evening. Eat before you come, though, since the food is disappointing. Bus #12 to Mittelstrasse (direction Länggasse) – Seidenweg is first right. Closed Mon.

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