Le Dandy Libéré s’internationalise et vous proposera désormais des articles personnels en Anglais mais aussi des articles piochés dans le meilleur de la presse internationale et sur Internet en version originale (anglaise, polonaise, néerlandaise, allemande, italienne, espagnole ou encore japonaise).
Pour cette première expérience, nous vous proposons un petit road-trip en Bavière en version anglaise (oui c’est un peu tordu). Un article trouvé dans le magazine hipster british Monocle de Novembre 2015.
Bonne lecture ! Good luck! Willkommen en Bavaria!
Germany’s largest Bundesland is a region characterised by numerous contrasts. It is both an industrial powerhouse and a land of stunning natural and welcoming to outsiders and yet also has a strong sense of identity. And it is a seat of tradition and history but simultaneously a dynamic 21st-century centre for innovation. While this may sound contradictory, it all makes sense when you travel round the state and meet the residents and business owners of its cities, from the tech entrepreneur to the fourth-generation MD of a family firm. In this regional survey, focused on Bavaria’s businesses and its quality of life, we cover the length and breadth of the state and meet the people who make it a dynamic success story.
Land of milk and honey
Bavaria is the largest Bundesland in Germany, covering an area roughly half size of England. The political boundary includes four culturally distinct areas – Franconia, Swabia, Palatinate and Bavaria – all of which are represented in the state’s colourful coat of arms. Bavaria is the undisputed industrial powerhouse of Germany – more than 20 per cent of the country’s market-leading companies come from here – but is also known for its unparalleled natural beauty. A short journey from any of its big cities and you’ll find yourself on the shores of stunning lake, in the foothills of the Alps or in a quaint village surrounded by green pastures. Let’s take a tour.
State of excitement
Bavaria is known for big business: its manufacturers, global insurance firms and sports brands. But the region is also becoming a hub for start-ups, particularly in the tech sector. As several of the business owners we profile here explain, smaller outfits benefit from being surrounded by larger companies that have survived for decades – sometimes centuries. And while the tech sector flourishes, there are also other entrepreneurs in Bavaria who deserve our attention and recognition, opening innovative neighbourhood shops and, naturally, brewing beer.
Education and research. Bavaria champions knowledge and innovation and academic excellence is paramount: the state has 12 international schools. Munich’s university TUM is ranked the highest in Germany, with the Ludwig-Maximilian University (LMU) ranked third. More than one in five people at TUM is from outside Germany too. The state is also home to some world-renowned research institutes sush as the Ludwig Bölkow Campus, an aerospace facility that hosts the likes of Airbus and Siemens, and the Max Planck Institute, which has produced 18 Nobel Prize winners.
- St Erhard: heavenly brew. Beer is the big business in Bavaria. The start-up St Erhard is a modern take on centuries of brewing tradition. “People don’t know that Bamberg has highest concentration of brewers in Germany,” says Christian Klemenz, managing director since 2011, of his hometown in northern Bavaria. St Edhard’s clear-glass bottle shows off the deep amber brew, a departure from the usual dark glass with ornate labels. “We didn’t want to fake being 250 years old,” says Klemenz. The craft-beer scene in Germany is developing after a slow start comparison to the US and the UK. To support the nascent scene Klemenz also created brew shop Bierothek and hopes to have five open by the end of the year.
- Lokal helden: Fresh approach. Mona Ridder was working as a chef in an Augsburg restaurant when she decided to start growing fruit and vegetables on a small allotment outside the city. “I was so surprised by how many kinds of produce you can grown even here in the heart of Europe,” she says. “I thought it would be nice if there was store for produced that hadn’t been shipped across the world.” She set up a Kickstater fund and raised enough capital to start her shop Lokal Helden (Local Heroes). Some of her fresh produce is grown within the boundaries of the city; the rest comes from around Bavaria, with a few items from Baden Württemberg. The store doubles as a café during the day, serving soups, curries, coffee and craft beers.
Bavaria is Germany’s bread basket, its economic powerhouse. Ingolstadt is the home of Audi, Herzogenaurach is where Adidas is based and Munich is bmw’s HQ, there are countless global brands that call the southern state home. It’s also the first choice for international giants sush as Google, Microsoft, General Electric and Chinese firm Huawei, all of which have set up headquarters here. And while these corporations have a huge impact on the economy, Bavaria’s small and medium-sized companies make up no less than 40 per cent of its annual economic performance. Here’s a round-up of Bavaria’s big businesses that have made a mark around the world.
- Playmobil: go figure. With the passing of Playmobil founder Horst Brandstätter this summer, the world of chidren’s toys got a little big smaller. The familiar plastic figures were introduced in 1974 by Brandstätter and toy designer Hans Beck; they are manufactured in Dietenhofen, near Nuremberg, among other global locations, with everything overseen by headquarters in Zirndorf. Family ownership of Geobra-Brandstätter Group since 1876 has put deep roots and family values at the heart of the company. A new logistics centre built in 2014 represented an €80m investment in the company’s future competitiveness, ensuring that these little figures will stay in the hands of children for years to come.
- Faber-Castell: drawn the line. Faber-Castell was founded in 1761 by Kaspar Faber; Anton Graf von Faber-Castell leads the company today in its eighth generation of family management. The company still manufactures in Stein, near the headquarters of two other giants of the world-wide stationery: Stadtler and Stabilo. More than 250 years of refinement have made Faber Castell a world leader in producing instruments for applying pigment to surfaces, from pencils to lip-liners. “Family-owned companies like this can think over the long term, in generations,” says Sandra Suppa of Faber-Castell. “In the 1980s we planted a forest and we’re now seeing the results in wood-price stability and sustainability.”
- Bulthaup: magic touch. Bulthaup has been making kitchens in the Bavarian countryside since it was founded by Martin Bulthaup in 1949. It employs 530 people from area and relies on the assiduousness they bring to their work. “I always say that Bulthaup starts where the machine ends and the human hand and human eye take over,” says Marc O Eckert, CEO and grandson of the original founder. Veneer master Johann Paintmeier is a prime example. His work takes him around Europe looking for the perfect trees and then back to Bodenkirchen to turn blocks of wood into 0.6mm-thick veneers. His expertise has helped to the company gain a great reputation, with a turnover of €130m and 80 per cent of the kitchens sols overseas.
Bavaria’s traditional cuisine is hearty, historic and quintessentially German. From weisswurst (veal sausages) to brezen, its specialities have a strong tradition and are well known around the globe – and that’s without mentioning the region’s beer. Bavaria is widely considered to be the spiritual home of wheat beer and every pub knows the value of a barrel-fresh mass (a one-litre mug of beer, of which an estimated 6.5 million are chugged during the annual Oktoberfest). Yet Bavaria offers so much more than liquid gold. The state offers a delightful mix of world-class restaurants, bars and cafés serving exquisite coffee. Here’s a toast to the best of the bunch.
- Nikolas Schwarz: flour power. On Saturdays the queue at this Nuremberg bakery and deli is normally several people deep. The three children of founder Nikolas Schwarz – Konrad, Helmut and Betty – have stayed loyal to their father’s vision for his shop, which dates back to 1923. This is especially true of the no-nonsense food on offer, from horseradish to cured meats and baked goods. The shelves are laden with loaves of bread fresh from a nearby stone-oven bakery. They come in two forms – round (laib) or oval (kipf) – and each loaf weighs up to 4.5kg, cut to customer’s wishes. Speciality meats are sliced to order and smoked sausages are sold link by link. Fruit preserves round out the selection.
- Mahlefitz: serves you right. For the coffee aficionado, Munich’s Mahlefitz is a must. Set up by Peter Schögl, his wife Mojgan Ensafi and business partner Sebastian Lösch, this is a high-concept café serving single-estate coffee. The founders developed their own colour-coding system for the coffees, which means returning customers can be certain of a brew they’ll enjoy in the sparse and gracefully furnished interior.
The purchasing power of Bavaria is far above the German average at €23,168 a year per person. The city of Munich’s is higher still at €28,920. This means that homegrown retailers are in an economically strong market. Bavaria may be the best place to buy bespoke lederhosen and perhaps some homemade mustard to go along with all that weisswurst you’ll be enjoying – but it’s also home to an array of young “Made in Germany” brands that are investing time and energy in bringing regional manufacturing back to the fore. Although Munich stands out as Bavaria’s number-one shopping destination, there are many shops to discover beyond the capital’s borders too. Here are our top picks.
- Lodenfrey: lap of luxury. Lodenfrey is Munich’s premium department store but that fact belies a far more interesting history. Founded by Johann Georg Frey from Klingenstein in Baden Württemberg in 1842, Lodenfrey started out as a textile mill making fine loden clothing for the Bavarian nobility. The first shop opened eight years later in the centre of Munich. Today the store’s modern incarnation on Maiffeistrasse devotes an entire floor of its six-storey building to high-end versions of traditional Bavarian dress: so-called trachten. But it alos holds great contemporary brands from Woolrich to Ermenegildo Zegna aud Caruso. A coffee bar on each floor and a men’s made-to-measure section complete the luxurious offering.
- Souve: in the bag. Hendrik Boeing, who started by selling bags out of the boot of his car, set up German brand Souve in 2011. His shop in Munich – furnished with metal fences that double as display cases – is a simple as his colourful canvas bags. “They are honest, durable products,” says Boeing. In 2014 he launched a line of leather bags crafted in a small family-run workshop in Naples. He also sells books published by Gestalten and German spirits.
Hard to beat
With its &;350 museums and collections and the millions of euros it spends on creative pursuits each year, Bavaria beats every other German Bundesland when it comes to arts and culture. It’s also a media powerhouse, home to public-service broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk, the German Architectural Digest and newspaper Süddeutsche Zeintung, as well an publishing houses such as Hubert Burda Media and DTV. Across the rest of the region each city has its fair share of cultural highlights, from Bayreuth’s 18th-century Margravial Opera House to artist Albrecht Dürer’s former Nuremberg home.
- Pinakothek der moderne: creative complex. This modern-art gallery in the heart of Munich’s Kunstareal (art district) combines four museums under one roof, making it one of Europe’s largest museums for modern and contemporary art architecture and design. Designed by German architect Stephan Braunfels, the Pinakothek der Moderne displays a range of 20-21st-century art and design. Its collection can only really be compared to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. “Our four extraordinary museums are always involved in collaborative, interdisciplinary projects,” says chief curator for contemporary art Barnhart Schwenk, whose next show will explore the work of German artist Amelie von Wulffen.
- Albrecht-Dürer-Haus: home is where the art is. Germany’s most celebrated renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer was a Nuremberg native. To commemorate his life and work, the city opened the Albrecht-Dürer-Haus as the nation’s first artist museum in 1828. Dürer’s house is one of the city’s oldest residences and showcases all facets of the artist’s heritage and work. Menwhile, in his former workshop visitors can learn about his historic painting and printing techniques.
The great outdoors
Bavaria’s dynamic cities are well governed, affluent and enjoy a near-Mediterranean climate. There are plenty of restaurants, shops and cultural institutions to keep residents entertained. But the main reason people love living here is the area’s natural beauty. You don’t have to travel far out of Munich to get to the foothills of the Alps or to Tegernsee lake. Come on, let’s head for the hills.
- Tegernsee: lakeside leisure. Ausflug is a word you should add to your German vocabulary. An Ausflug is a trip, somewhere between a jaunty adventure and an afternoon escape from the city. Tegernsee, a lake area about 60km south of Munich, is a favourite getaway and a prime location for a quick day trip or a luxurious weekend break. Here’s ou pick of places and things to do from the towns around the lake.
- Garmisch-Partenkirchen: Alpine A-listers. You can be in the Alpine of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in less than 90 minutes from the centre of Munich. In winter, residents leave the city for day trips to this favoured ski resort, which boasts about 40 kilometres of piste and includes a glacier on the Zugspitze, the tallest mountain in Germany. When the snow melts, the town is a great setting-off point for hikes and bike rides in the mountains and valleys.
- Bodensee: lakeside locations. Bodensee, a 63km-long lake, is at the southern tip of Bavaria and marks the point where Germany, Switzerland and Austria meet. Bavaria lays claim to the eastern portion that stretches from Lindau to Nonnenhorn. Circled by historic towns, picturesque beaches, vineyards and the Alps, Bodensee is one of Bavaria’s – and Europe’s – most treasured holiday destinations.
Monocle: issue 88. Volume 09. November 2015