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Blog > Francobolli, the postcard café

What if you could send a postcard today, and schedule the date in which it should arrive? Wouldn’t that be handy for birthday postcards and other such messages? Well, there’s a place in the Netherlands where you can do this – and eat cake while doing it too! Your postcards get put on a “date slot” in a giant calendar wall, ready to be mailed when the day comes… it’s genius! :)

We invited Tiny Klever, the owner of this magical postcard-café to tell us more about it. Here’s her story:

“Dude!” the 12-year old boy said to his friend. The friend apparently made some ‘childish’ remark when the two of them were looking for postcards. They were quick to choose, however, and bought five.

“Are they the youngest customers you ever had?” one of my regulars, a 69-year old retired university lecturer drinking his second fat free cappuccino, asked.

“Without parents, definitely.” I said.

Francobolli is a place where you, while drinking coffee or tea, can choose a postcard (we have 300 to 400 different kinds for you to choose from), write it, and have it send on any day you want. The Postcard Café, one of my English guests once called it.

Often children come with their parents and a lot of them already know that when visiting Francobolli they get to choose a card, they may write and send it. To thank grandma for staying over, to congratulate friends with their birthday or to send it to one of their siblings who is not present. As one of the mothers asks her eldest boy when they are having Sunday brunch with us: “Who deserves a postcard today?”

Viggo sending a postcard

(Viggo (on the right) sends a card to his grandparents, thanking them for staying over and letting him eat a lot of junk food.
Photo: Martine de Clercq)

There are students from fraternity houses who spend one afternoon every half-year writing birthday cards to all of their friends. They barely have time to drink their fresh mint tea or eat their sandwich. See them scribbling away, iPad at the ready, discussing which card fits whom, checking addresses and making sure they get the dates right. Because all these cards need to be put in the right slot in the calendar wall, in order for them to be delivered on exactly the right date.

Postcard wall at Francobolli

The calendar wall with written postcards to be delivered. Photo: Elizabeth van Hasselt.

There are so many reasons people send postcards… because a card reminds you of someone, just for the fun of it, to say thank you, to wish someone good night, to remind yourself of the promise you made (quit smoking, have more fun, you name it). A Taiwanese woman came in every day for a few weeks, ordered a latte macchiato and a carrot cake and wrote a postcard (every day!!) to the ex-prime minister of Taiwan, who is currently serving time in jail. She did not know whether her cards would arrive and surely wasn’t expecting an answer to her writings… Intriguing, don’t you think?

So, whenever you are in the neighborhood, come and have a drink. Combine it with one of our delicious home made pies or a freshly made sandwiches and write a card to your loved ones. Or just come to have a look; you’re most welcome!

Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? I mean, just look at that wall!

Francobolli is on Apothekersdijk 38 in Leiden (Netherlands), right by the canal. Next time you’re in town, don’t miss it! :)

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41 comments so far

ironseafish, Germany
I wish I was living closer to this apparently absolutely marvelous place :/ :) :)!!
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indianfriendszone, India
Wow thats something amazing...
I wish i can visit this Cafe :)
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Topas, Germany
lovely place. Pity, I'm too far away.
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ydnic, United States of America
How do they figure out when to send it for the correct arrival? This is very neat.
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kamikazeherz, Germany
4 hours by car! I need to convince my parents to a trip when i have summer vacation :)
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Blogger, United States of America
I want to go here! This is brilliant! Now to find a cafe owner here and convince them to do this.
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Chrissy1979, Netherlands
OMG it's just around the corner from my house... well ok it's a 10 minute ride on my bike, but I never knew about this place.... going to see it tomorrow definitely
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meiadeleite, Portugal
@chrissy1979: If we lived that close, we'd probably be there all the time! :D
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StacyT, United Kingdom
omg! this is just awesome! we need something like this around my house! I'd live in there!
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ravioli22, Germany
Just 4 and a half hour away... off we go! Maybe the next time we are visiting The Netherlands. ;-)
Such a nice idea, i would love to visit this cafe and take time to write my cards.
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Roadrunner73, Germany
The next time when I visit the Netherlands this is the place I just have to go to.
Wonderful idea.
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YiliLoh, Malaysia
An amazing cafe! :)
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Ejderha, Netherlands
What an amazing idea!
Next time I go to Leiden I will definitely visit Francobolli and probably stay there forever! (^-^)
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Trios, Netherlands
Great initiative; great postcard wall anyway!
Realisation of their goal (delivering a postcard on the exact date) is a bit tricky though. . .
PostNL - as our national postal service is called nowadays - has to be cooperative, because they don't always deliver on the day you may expect when reading their terms of delivery!
They are not as reliable as they used to be a decade ago. :-(
Besides that, the frequency to deliver mail has changed since January 1st this year, so now we don't get mail on Mondays anymore.
But when in Leiden, I'll sure look for this café and have a nice cuppa!
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Sunneva12, Norway
oh, I definitely want to go there! :-)
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Majamail, Germany
It is such a lovely idea.... My dream is to have a coffee-house, but my new dream to have it with such a postcard bord..... AMAZING
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Schoffie, Netherlands
My hometown! I love to go for a coffee and to write some cards there...
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parkhomych, Russia
Lovely. I hope to visit this cafe someday))
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BOOGIE_PIPPIN, United Kingdom
A fantastic café! I feel like catching the next 'plane over and spend days just writing postcards to everyone I know. That would be a lot of cards, and a lot of coffee and cake to enjoy.
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rosenbusch, Germany
A lovely idea...
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TheCraftyLass, United Kingdom
What a great place :)
With regards to achieving date requirements: to me personally, I don't think it would concern me too much if a card arrived with the recipient on an exact day. If I was sending a card just because I wanted to say Hi/thanks etc, i'd want to send it quite soon.
Thinking ahead to special occasions etc, I think it would be fantastic if it was FRANKED on your chosen date. For example, I have a friend getting married in August: how cool would it be if she received greetings from far off lands, all postmarked with the date of her special day!? It would make a lovely keepsake.
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sabescan, Malaysia
I would like to be at this awesome postcard café
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timdani, United States of America
What a cool idea! So fun :)
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graugans, Germany
If I ever get to visit the Netherlands, this is the place to see!
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Kuijer, Netherlands
Lovely, go to see it this summer.
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icdamoon, United States of America
What a great idea. I think I might buy some postcards and make some postcards and send some to them to add to the collection they use for customers to send out! Thanks for sharing this with the Postcrossing community! The Wilkinson Family, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
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Goyesca, Germany
That looks great! Well, outsourcing my keeping an eye on my birthday calendar throughout the year and posting my cards in time is perhaps not my cup of tea...but I would love to see their date slot for Dec 24, must have bath tub size, hu? Thanks for sharing this story :)
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Carrie1, South Africa
I love this postcard cafe idea. So, my first postcard was just received yesterday, from SA to Russia, and it took 37 days, which is way to long, but I'm so glad that it finally arrived, now for those other four. Happy Crossings.
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Zwergi, Germany
When I was there in May 2013 I wrote and posted several cards. One was special to me because it was a birthday card for myself to arrive at my home for my birthday in January. I had estimated the average time cards take from the Netherlands to my hometown in Germany and yes, I got my birthday greeting the day before my birthday which I had written seven months earlier.
I loved the café with the friendly atmosphere and the new experience of the speacial mail service.
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emoffdayz, United States of America
well that looks so cool and well i like the shelfs thats a good idea i wish they have this in every country well depends on the atomsphere and stuff anyways thats a great idean and thanks for sharing this!!! happy postcrosing!! :)
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PSHQuilts, United States of America
This idea would be fun in an office mailroom for family birthday cards and letters.
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geminiscp, Portugal
OMG, must plan another trip to NL soon!!!! :D
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ESD, United States of America
Great idea!! We need this in the USA!!
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dandilion, Netherlands
Great place for a postcrossing meeting! Guess the box of the next day will be full as we postcrossers sent out cards asap :-)
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proudlysouthafrican, South Africa
What an awesome idea! All i want to do is visit....we have nothing like that in South Africa....in fact, we can hardly find any decent postcards! I have ended up asking relatives to send me batches of cards so that i can send nice ones. So....this cafe is on my "bucket list" and hopefully i can pop in one day for a cup of coffee and a whole truck load of cards! Keep up the excellent work...communication is essential, and not just emails or texts!
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Robin67, Austria
Oh, how wonderful! I'd just looooove to go there!!! :-) What a fantastic idea!!!
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Ingegunawan, Indonesia
Brilliant idea!
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lucymonty, United Kingdom
Great idea! I love the wall!!
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nugget, United States of America
I would love to visit a place like that!
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ekster_rivero, Japan
Oh, I dreamed the cafe like that for long years!
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Project20, India
There is similar cafe in the city of Georgetown, Malaysia! I have been there and I was able to send my future self a birthday card!
Such cafes are are humble, you can sit there and design your own postcards and enjoy the simplicity of writing to someone - the most sincere feelings of all! :)
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