Le Café des Rêves

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started19th Oct 1992
ended23rd Nov 1992
last rpt27th Sep 2007
16 school years
duration20 mins
age rangeAge 13-15Age 13-16
languagefrIn French
BBC French DramaHierarchyPrevious.gifPrevious series: La Marée et ses SecretsNext series: ClémentineHierarchyNext.gif

Le Café des Rêves is a French-language BBC schools TV series from the 1990s and 2000s, covering French Language for secondary school pupils.

A drama serial produced almost entirely in French about a group of French teenagers, their lives and interests, and some mysteries and criminality they get caught up in whilst trying to improve a run-down café.

The series was set and recorded in Lille Violet-marker.png and covered a range of "contemporary issues" for teenagers alongside its thriller plot. It was written by the novelist Nigel Hinton, in English. The teacher's notes reveal that Hinton was married to a French woman, and it was his brother-in-law, English teacher Richard Lager, who translated the script into French.

Le Café des Rêves replaced the BBC's French-language serial La Marée et ses Secrets of almost a decade earlier (although La Marée proved popular enough for further repeats after Le Café was launched), and shared some of its creative team and concepts with a realistic setting and simple language giving way to thriller overtones. Nigel Hinton returned to script the BBC's follow-up French language serial Clémentine, which did away with the criminal storyline to focus on teenage life.

Le Café des Rêves TV series could be used as part of the third year study in the five-year long French language course for schools called Étoiles, run by the BBC in conjunction with the publisher Longman. Like its compatriots in the Étoiles course, Ici Paris and Jeunes Francophones, each episode begins with the Étoiles logo.

The Story

French teenager Serge looks after the family café with his grandmother. When his grandmother is mugged and knocked into a coma, Serge and his friends band together to not just keep running the quiet café, but to refurbish and revitalise it as a destination for teenagers, renaming it Le Café des Rêves ('the café of dreams').

Serge's friends have issues of their own. Aspiring rapper Marco is putting on a concert to impress a record company. Nathalie and Serge both fancy each other but neither will say so. Isabelle's mother does not approve of her relationship with Djamal, who is of Arab descent, and Djamal himself has an older brother who is in debt to a pair of local villains.

A mysterious British teenager called Wayne, with very little French, hangs around the café and tries to help the friends, but Serge is suspicious when he spots Wayne stealing fruit from outside a shop.

Serge considers whether it could be Wayne who mugged his grandmother, and must also deal with police officers investigating whether the café is being illegally run by under-age teenagers.

Titles & Theme Music

The young characters are superimposed in the windows of the revamped Café des Rêves.


# Title Broadcast
1. Episode 1 #1992-10-19-00-00-0019 Oct 1992
2. Episode 2 #1992-11-02-00-00-002 Nov 1992
3. Episode 3 #1992-11-09-00-00-009 Nov 1992
4. Episode 4 #1992-11-16-00-00-0016 Nov 1992
5. Episode 5 #1992-11-23-00-00-0023 Nov 1992


And as follows, overnight in a two-hour block for easy video recording, with a timer clock on screen. After Le Café des Rêves the two hours were made up first with an episode of Jeunes Francophones, later replaced by an episode of France 2000 in French.


Starring Bruno Burtin as Serge

Diane Lafosse as Nathalie
Flavia Peplinsky as Isabelle Bourgier
Mohamed Hamaidi as Djamal Attia
Boss M.C. as Marco
Chad Chenouga as Karim Attia
Jake Wood as Wayne

With Arlette Renard as Mémé, Mme. Lambin

Hughes Martel as Antoine
Philippe Capelle as Gérard
Luc Samaille as Bertrand
Georges Aubert as Jeannot
Fernand Kindt as Dédé
Frederique Hazard as Mme. Bourgier
Karim Tayeb as agent de police
Isabelle Carré as docteur
Nicolas Ducron as François
Bernard Azaretti as inspecteur
Nicolas Postillon & Sébastien Rischebee as boys in fight
Dans la Rue la Dance as rap dancers
Estelle Iger as Angélique

Music by Richard Attree
Consultant David Edwards
Graphic designer Linda Sherwood-Page
Make-up designer Françoise Cresson
Costume designer Yves Barre
Stunt director Tip Tipping
Assistant producer Jane Cottave
Designer Katia Montillet
Photography Godfrey Johnson
Film editor Tim Cawston & Jan Cholawo
Executive producer Len Brown
Written by Nigel Hinton
Translated by Richard Lager
Director Roger Tonge
Producer Susan Paton


Teacher's notes

Teacher's notes, 1993

A 64-page booklet of notes including classroom follow-up suggestions, full transcripts of each episode and worksheets.

The worksheet activities include 'Serge's diary' for each episode, recounting the main action from his perspective.

The teacher's notes and worksheets were written by Amanda Rainger and Stephen Hafenrichter.

Originally sold for £6.25. ISBN 0 563 35365 1

Example worksheet

Pupils' book

Le Cafe des Reves bande dessinee cover.jpg

The book for pupils took the form of a comic strip, a bande-dessiné, retelling a simplified version of the story over 30 pages.

The illustrations by Phillip Burrows are in the style used in other Étoiles publications.

They were sold individually for £3.50 or as a pack of six for £15. ISBN 0 582 23640 1

Example page from episode 4


The series was released as a video pack with teacher's notes and transcripts bundled, for £35.75 including VAT.

Notable Mentions

The series has been covered a few times on Scott Mills' BBC radio shows, as his co-presenter Chris Stark is a big fan.

On a 2011 Radio 1 show the pair discussed the series at length, trying to understand several clips and comparing it favourably with The Wire and The Sopranos.

Years later on a 2020 Radio 5 show they interviewed actor Jake Wood, who relived some of the French dialogue from Le Café!

Watch Online Watch a clip on Twitter


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