The Café Broglie
August 25th 2019, by Gabriel
Today, I felt like telling you about a specific place, not just about a building but really about an area, with all the changes and mishaps that occurred there as history ran its course. Let us talk about the number 22 of Broglie Square. We pass by everyday, especially us with our Free Tours and this is where you will find these days the Café Broglie. This is not necessarily a place where I hang a lot in Strasbourg and even if you do not spend too much time there yourself, I am sure you’ll admit that its small terrace and the building in itself are worthy of notice. I even have a delightful anecdote about the Café Broglie, but you shall only get it at the end of the article, so please be patient…
What are we talking about?
To begin with, “22 place Broglie” is the café’s official address now, but this was not always the case. Over the time, this location has been attached to different streets. Before 1870, it was the number 1 of Rue Brûlée, then it was annexed to the number 1 of Rue du Dôme, which remains the address of the building’s main entrance. The “22 place Broglie” will only appear later and to be honest, I could not find the date, so feel free to let us know in the comments section if you find the info!
Who are we talking about?
It’s time for a bit of history now, after all this is what we in our guided tour with Happy Strasbourg you know!
We have known what’s been going on with that location for quite a while now: already in the 14th century, it belonged to the famous Müllenheim, a powerful family from Strasbourg. In 1388, Henri lived there, then in 1403 and 1424, we find the trace of a certain Ottemann living there, son of Bourcart of Müllenheim (yes, it’s still the same family).
In the 16th century, Béat of Duntzenheim settles there. He becomes the Ammeister (highest representative of the City Council) in 1542 and took part to the Diet of Regensburg the previous year, no less! He was there alongside with Sturm, Bucer and Capito, some other great names from our history.
In 1544, Frédéric of Gottesheim (not much to tell about him) buys back the place. He will stay here with his family until 1690, when Luc Weinehmer buys it back in turn. Luc got to become the first catholic Ammeister since the Protestant Reformation, which is quite something as well! The Hotel was sold in 1738 to the Dürckheim family, who sold it 5 years later to the Türckheim family (nope, these are not the same guys). This last family will remain the owner until 1850, when the Baron Jean-Frédéric of Türckheim passed away.
In 1853, Mr. Scheidecker built on that location what was (apparently) a magnificent hotel. Alas, the only pictures I have found show it in ruins, as it was destroyed by the bombings in 1870.
It’s the Crédit Foncier (Land Bank) of Alsace and Lorraine that had the impressive building you can still see today built in 1873, with its allegories of agriculture and industry decorating the main door, on the rue du Dôme side. Nowadays, the Crédit Foncier’s head office in Strasbourg is still situated there of course, along with a notary, lawyers and a few families as well. To be honest, I would like very much to see what the apartments look like, this must be pretty nice!
The Café Broglie
Despite all those great names, this place was not just for lodging. As early as 1781, the “Café de la Comédie Française” settled here, then the “Café de l’Egalité” (Café of Equality) that will become the “Café Broglie”, in 1795 already. As you now know, the building will be destroyed during the bombings of the franco-prussian war in 1870.
In 1900, the name sticks but the owner Mr. Bauzin moves it a few meters down the square, at number 21-22 of the Broglie Square, where you can now see a Greek flag floating. To the left of the Café was the Broglie-Palace cinema. In 1968, this building was replaced and business came to a stop, once again…
We had to wait until the 80’s to find the current Café Broglie on the historical site of the “Café de la Comédie Française”.
The chauvinistic Alsatian’s “Oh so sweet” anecdote…
OK, so I promised it and after all these historical details that show you the longevity of some institutions in Strasbourg, here is the famous anecdote:
Mr. Bauzin, the owner of the Café after 1870 and thus situated just next door, following the destruction caused by the German bombings, found quite a blunt way to remove the Prussian element: the drinks he served to his clients remained the same for everyone, meaning of good quality -excellent even. Yet he pulled the prices up for the Germans. When the latter complained, he would answer them: “Indeed, you gentlemen are entitled to special prices. You have bombed my house. I have a price for my fellow French countrymen who did not bomb it. By the way, nothing forces you to be victims of such conditions. It so happens there is, just outside my door, a third-rate institution where you will feel like home.”
“BOOM!” as we would say today!
Now, do not see in there any “anti-germanism” on my part. It’s quite the contrary, I love the German cousins very much, but you must admit that the chauvinistic Alsatian hidden in you is titillated by such a story, is he not? And if you find such a story about the French, I’ll take it as well! 😉