Viviane Durieu is creator of ‘A Travessa’, one of Lisbons best restaurants, set in a 17th-century convent, with a picturesque courty yard.
“When I arrived in Lisbon in December 1969, two days before Christmas, I thought the climate and the light were fantastic. Especially because I had arrived from Belgium where it’s cloudy for nine months of the year and we only get a few months of blue sky. I remember being surprised to see the leaves still on the trees at that time of year.
I fell in love with the city, and still I’m fascinated by the humanism of the Portuguese and the beautiful light.
My background is in photography, I worked in this field until we opened restaurant ‘A Travessa’, which only started as a bit of a joke between me, my husband and a friend.
We opened a small restaurant with good products: coffee that you couldn’t find in Portugal at that time, good bread and good wine, just round the corner from the current ‘A Travessa’, next to the Portuguese Parliament building and surrounded by embassies. Because we were French speakers we got lots of clients from the Belgian and French embassies. It was a hit. We just developed from there and it’s been 30 years this year since we opened. Time flies…..!”
“I live in the historic area near the Sao Jorge Castle (Castelo de São Jorge), a delight for residents, with limited car access. The narrow streets of uneven cobbles make life in the centre of the city like living in a village”.
Castelo Sao Jorge, entrance
“When I arrived in Lisbon, I use to go to Sintra a lot. As it’s colder there, I felt closer to Belgium and I dreamt about having a house there. World Heritage Site, this historic town lies 40 km from Lisbon, a must for any visitor!”
Sintra: National Palace da Pena, now a museum. The very old Palace stands on the top of a hill above the town of Sintra. On a clear day it can easily seen from Lisbon.
“In Lisbon, I like to shop in the Baixa and Chiado areas. I don’t like shopping centers, I prefer traditional shops, it’s much nicer to walk around the town”.
Lisbon, Rua do Carmo, Baixa
“i like going to Belém. The Jeronimus Monastery and the famous classic Belém custard tarts (Pasteis de Belém) , always warm, are real musts! And I like the shows at Centro Cultural de Belém, which has got the best concert hall in Lisbon.”
Antiga Confeitaria, since 1837. The recepe of Lisbon’s most celebrated custard tarts is still a well-kept secret…open 7 days a week.
History: at the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, in Belém, next to the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (the Heironymite Monastery) there was a sugar cane refinery linked to a small general store. As a result of the liberal revolution of 1820, all convents and monasteries in Portugal were shut down in 1834, the clergy and labourers expelled.
In an attempt at survival, someone from the monastery offered sweet pastries for sale in the shop; pastries that rapidly became known as ‘Pasteis de Belém’.
Graças a Maria Ventura