l’Atelier

by Catherine
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It took me an hour and a near-incident of road rage to get here. But poet and artist Yan Maingard’s l’Atelier Littéraire, tucked in a quiet lane away from Port Louis’ bustle, is a book lover’s delight and an oasis of culture. Describing itself as the crossroad of literature, arts and fine cuisine, the founder’s intention was to provide a cultural venue for collaboration between creative artists. L’Atelier originated as a simple restaurant and meeting place. It hosts temporary painting and photographic exhibitions, and its newsletter publicises the comings and goings of the Mauritian cultural scene.

Prompted by fans, Yan introduced a collection of light and serious Mauritian literature in the mezzanine. The works explore the island’s history, its cultural melting pot, and the art which is a by-product of the country’s jaw-dropping beauty, at prices which are easy on the pocket. This is a must for tourists and citizens who are curious about the island’s culture. Yan and his wife Dominique are hands-on owners and available to answer all your questions.

As the name suggests, the place has an industrial feel and was designed by Yan himself. Its high ceilings, raw cement floors, and wood and frosted metal structures are in the style of a renovated factory. White surfaces enhance the space and refresh, important in scorching Port Louis. I liked the old basalt stone walls and colonial frontage; it’s also a pleasure to slip into the private parking space to avoid Port Louis’ narrow street stops.

On the ground floor, the Café de L’Atelier is a welcome refuelling station, calm and restful, manned by friendly staff. The restaurant takes the spirit of a neighbourhood bistro, serving snacks, salads and light meals. It advertises its wares as “enn ti manzé simp simp (a little bit of very simple food),” which is a misnomer. Apart from the traditional rice dishes with a Creole influence – beef curry, vindaye and rougaille – you can feast on stuffed tomatoes with goat’s cheese and rocket; smoked marlin risotto with saffron; lemon meringue pie, and cheesecake. Try a different dish at every visit.

Unfortunately, almost all the books are in French; I would travel far and regularly to inspect these shelves if there was an English language component. Excited by l’Atelier’s offerings, I was compelled to buy a handful of French books, a good, if frustrating, language building exercise.

You will find them at:
18 Rue Saint Louis 
Port Louis 
Phone: 208 4915
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Arts and culture, literary place of meeting. I have to work on the literary art place of note in have to work on it until the literary

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