The Cool Dorset Guide: Le Petit Prince in Westbourne

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Saturday 7th February 2015

IMG_1528Saturday breakfast is my favourite time of the week. The stresses and strains of the previous week recede into the distance and two days of blustery walks, log fires and reading books stretch blissfully ahead. Years ago, when I was on the Sunday Express, I always worked on Saturdays and even though I got Mondays off in lieu it was never quite the same. Worse still, I missed two years worth of friends’ weddings.

But these days Saturday mornings are free of work. One of my favourite ways to spend them is to buy a stack of newspapers and grab a table at Le Petit Prince in Westbourne, Bournemouth – quite the nicest café I’ve discovered in ages.

Actually, it’s a bit weird being in Westbourne again, because a whole 40 years ago I used to be there all the time. Every afternoon me and my sister used to jump off the school bus in Westbourne and walk home along a tree-lined road called The Avenue. In those days The Avenue was full of vast Victorian mansions. These days it’s all posh flats and electric gates.

But back to Le Petit Prince. It’s a small, family-run patisserie, with a bakery at the back and a small café at the front. Everything is made on the premises, from the artisan bread (the wholemeal sourdough is my favourite) to the croissants, macaroons, éclairs and cakes. Owner Michael Russell trained in France and later worked at a string of top London restaurants – from Langan’s Brasserie to Mosimann’s – and it really shows. He takes pride in sourcing the very best quality ingredients, much of it very local, and the staff are friendly and knowledgeable. Rather sweetly, there’s a well-thumbed copy of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s classic Le Petit Prince on every table.

It’s a sign of how good the bakery is that it’s always busy. Loads of customers are regulars, whether they’re buying a daily baguette or ordering a cake for a special occasion. On Saturday mornings I order a flat white (Le Petit Prince makes great coffee too) and an almond croissant and open up the papers. It’s quite the nicest way to start the weekend.

PS. A second Le Petit Prince has now opened in Wimborne – and it’s just as good as its big brother.

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