Eve de Castro and Jean Jeannot were longtime residents of Paris when they began reading and hearing about Detroit. They were intrigued by not only the city, but also the bankruptcy it was going through. When de Castro, a novelist and screenwriter, decided she wanted to write about the American city so far from their lives as Parisians, she knew she couldn’t do it from afar. The couple would have to come to Detroit and experience it firsthand.
And that’s just what they did early in 2015. They quickly discovered that Detroit had some of the same qualities they loved about Paris: the opera, the symphony, and the art institute. Such cultural underpinnings assured them they would fit in here.
Of course, de Castro would write, but what would Jeannot, who had been the sales manager of an automobile company in France, do?
The answer they came up with is La Bohéme, a charming breakfast/lunch spot within walking distance of their Indian Village home. The cafe, done up in French posters and antique pieces, serves petit dejeuner and dejeuner from a menu of the French dishes and pastries they love to a handful of tables.
Perched on the corner of Kercheval Avenue and Parker Street, La Bohéme began attracting attention almost as soon as the doors opened, appropriately enough, on Valentine’s Day.
Chef Christopher Kinnun runs the kitchen, and the authentic pastries displayed in a glass-fronted cabinet are by Matt Knio of Golden Wheat Bakery in Hamtramck; the baker also provides the baguettes and brioches for the sandwiches. Local purveyors are used as much as possible by these dedicated newcomers to the city, who say they have found Detroiters to be “welcoming and supportive.”
The tightly focused menu boasts almond-filled croissants, croque monsieur and madame, quiche Lorraine, and macarons. All of the cheeses and ham are imported from France. “We want to share our French way of life,” says Jeannot.
Because the space has a basement room, the couple decided to make it a place for art exhibits, musical performances, and other cultural events. The photographs of Darko Stojanov are on display at the moment. They met him one evening while having dinner at Craft Work, when he noticed they were speaking French and began talking with them. They learned that he’s a metal artist and international photographer and made his works their first exhibit.