Quaint and quiet, Luang Prabang probably isn’t the first on the lists of beach-lovers and rowdy party-goers – this is a place to relax and while away the hours with a beer in hand by the Mekong. Like most UNESCO World Heritage sites, Luang Prabang is stuck in time, if not for the burly pick up trucks that pass by every now and then, and the buildings – charming and weathered, hold stories of a colonial past that is still very much present.
French influence is everywhere in Luang Prabang, but one place it’s especially obvious is in the city’s bread and baking scene. As you cycle down the streets or walk through the daily market, you’re bound to see piles of freshly baked baguettes waiting to be torn into. Although Luang Prabang is thousands of miles away from the birthplace of the beloved bread, French tourists who vacation in this historic city have given it their seal of approval.
For the French bakery experience, locals and tourists flock to Le Banneton, just opposite to Phon Heuang temple. Traditional in both baked goods and decor, the cafe’s interior is warm and homely with doors that open to the street – allowing fresh air in as patrons enjoy their croissants and strong black coffee.
Due to its popularity, the cafe usually runs out of their breads and pastries before noon. Luckily they still had a couple of its famous croissants and other pastries in stock the afternoon I visited. As advertised, the croissant was crisp on the outside and buttery on the inside. Their pizza is worth a try too, no soggy crusts here. If you just want a refreshing snack, a scoop of their ice cream would do you good. And if coffee you’re looking for something with a little more kick, there’s a wine shop in the corner of the cafe too.
Don’t expect to see an espresso machine or fancy latte art here – coffee is kept paired down and simple at Le Banneton. It’s the pastries and bakes that you come Le Banneton for, and perhaps the lazy mornings spent on their front porch as flashes of orange flit by across the street.