The first stop on our European trip was the city of Maastricht in the Netherlands, right by the Belgian border. We visited Boekhandel Dominicanen, a beautiful bookstore inside of a cathedral with three floors of books, records, stationery, magazines, and games, along with a small café in the back. The majority of the books were in Dutch, with small French and English sections, but the real star was the building itself. According to the store’s website, the 13th century church had a wide variety of purposes, from a slaughterhouse to a boxing arena, before becoming a bookstore in 2006. The upper floors are open metal platforms with railings so visitors on the bottom floor can still look up and appreciate the church’s architecture. It was quite busy when we visited on a Saturday at 10 am, but the store was large and there was lots of room to browse.
Instead of stopping for a snack and coffee in the bookstore café, we opted for the gluten free bakery right next door called Natuurlijk! Charlotte. The entire store is also organic, plant-based, and vegan.
They offer a variety of different loaves of bread and pastries, ranging from bars and cupcakes to pies and cakes. They also had a drink menu with coffee, tea, and lemonade. The man behind the counter was friendly and helpful, and was able to explain all the items to us in English and answer questions about sugar content and ingredients for one of our family members with diabetes.
We chose the havergist loaf (center in the above picture) to go, which was great for breakfasts with fruit and jam in the mornings during our trip. It was hearty and the crust was tough, but the inside was soft.
We also tried the Biologishe Kaneel, or cinnamon, cupcake, the Biologisch Wortel, or carrot, cupcake, and the Biologisch Bananen Brood, or banana bread. They were all moist and flavorful and stayed together well.
In terms of drinks, we tried the espresso and the iced cappuccino, which were both made with our choice of plant-based milk. We also had a locally made lemonade.
We took our pastries and drinks outside to enjoy on the bench in front of the store. It was a wonderful start to our European adventure, and we were delighted to find such a delicious, accommodating café right next to one of the most beautiful bookstores we had ever seen.
Helpful Travel Links for Masstricht:
Gluten Free Cafe and Bakery:
We drove from the Brussel Airport to Masstricht arriving around 10 a.m. We parked in a parking garage that is part of a mall, Mosae Forum, in the city center. It was easy to find a parking spot and it was a lovely 6 minute walk to the main markt square and the bookstore.