A creation of the New England Culinary Institute, La Brioche Bakery & Cafe (tel. 802/229-0443) occupies the corner of Montpelier's State and Main streets. It's a little bit of Europe in one of New England's more Continental cities. A deli counter offers baked goods such as croissants and baguettes. Get them to go, or settle into a table in the afternoon sun outdoors. It's open daily from as early as 6:30am until late afternoon.

I've spent many a wintry (or fall, or summery) afternoon inside the cleverly named Capitol Grounds, at 27 State St. (tel. 802/223-7800), a stone's throw from the gold dome of the state capitol building. One of my favorite coffeehouses in New England, it's a great, youthful spot to order an espresso, hot chocolate, soup, delicious sandwich, or baked goods while you peer out at the goings-on of town, watch the snow fall, or leaf through the newspaper. You'll find everyone from mothers and their kids to State House interns to Greenpeace members hanging out here. There's now live folk music twice a week.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.