Paris bistros seek UN status as cultural gems

BY SYLVIA CORBET, Associated Press
PARIS (AP) — Paris wouldn’t be Paris without its bistros and terrace cafes. Now businessmen and chefs want that integral part of the French capital’s way of life to be officially recognized as of global value and endangered.
Bistro owners have launched a campaign for their establishments to be named by the United Nations’ cultural agency as an “Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.” UNESCO has given that status to traditions as varied as a Mongolian camel-coaxing ritual, Iranian sailboat building and the sung prayers of indigenous Peruvians.
The owners say the bistros of Paris play a key role in bringing people of all origins, religions, social classes and age together in an inexpensive and welcoming place to drink coffee or share a meal. They also argue that the traditional bistro is threatened by increasing rents and competition, with numbers dropping by half in the past 20 years.
“Our most beautiful love and friendship stories were often born in bistros and on terraces,” said Le Mesturet owner Alain Fontaine, president of the bistro owners association.
A visiting tourist “will find a lively place, a place to share with the people of Paris — the people of Paris of today, not the people of the past,” Fontaine added. “A multi-ethnic, inter-faith, socially varied people. All of this disappears inside a bistro.”
The association hopes to see its candidacy examined by UNESCO next year.
Fontaine stressed that the “real Parisian bistro” offers homemade food and accessible prices — like a coffee for 1 euro ($1.1) and the day’s special with a glass of wine for 12 euros ($14.)
Parisians and tourists alike enjoy their typical decor — zinc counters, wooden tables and wine bottles for decoration.
Bistros were the kind of establishment people were relaxing outside of when extremists shot at them on Nov. 13, 2015. The attacks that targeted a concert hall and a soccer stadium as well as cafes left 130 people dead.
In the days after the attacks, Parisians rallied at cafes and terraces in a show of defiance, widely using the hashtag #Tousaubistrot (Everyone to the bistro) on social media.

In this photo taken on Wednesday, June 27, 2018, Laurent Roucous of “L’imprevu” restaurant in Vitry Sur Seine, enjoys a glass of wine as according to his doctor he is allowed “Only one glass a day for a good health”, in his terrace, outside Paris. Paris’ bistros and terraces have formed an association of bistros owners to launch a campaign to be recognized by the United Nations’ cultural agency UNESCO as a French way of life with “intangible cultural heritage” status. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

In this photo taken on Thursday, June 7, 2018, Pierre-Christophe Hantz, poses in front of his restaurant, “Le Vaudesir”, in Paris. Paris’ bistros and terraces have formed an association of bistros owners to launch a campaign to be recognized by the United Nations’ cultural agency UNESCO as a French way of life with “intangible cultural heritage” status. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

In this photo taken on Monday, June 11, 2018, Paul Pizouarn, alias “Vicomte Paul Henri de Rasquinet”, left, and his niece “Olympe de Corato” enjoy a glass of wine at the “Mesturet” restaurant in Paris. Paris’ bistros and terraces have formed an association of bistros owners to launch a campaign to be recognized by the United Nations’ cultural agency UNESCO as a French way of life with “intangible cultural heritage” status. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

In this photo taken on Monday, June 25, 2018, Parisians relax on a terrace at “Le Reveil du Xth” restaurant, in Paris. Paris’ bistros and terraces have formed an association of bistros owners to launch a campaign to be recognized by the United Nations’ cultural agency UNESCO as a French way of life with “intangible cultural heritage” status. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

In this photo taken on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, Christophe Martin of “La Petite Perigourdine” restaurant displays a prize of excellence from the farmer who provides the meat of Limousine region, in Paris. Paris’ bistros and terraces have formed an association of bistros owners to launch a campaign to be recognized by the United Nations’ cultural agency UNESCO as a French way of life with “intangible cultural heritage” status. AP Photo/Francois Mori)

In this photo taken on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, Waiter Michael prepares to serve the “Aubrac Aligot”, made with potatoes and cheese, at “La Petite Perigourdine” restaurant in Paris. Paris’ bistros and terraces have formed an association of bistros owners to launch a campaign to be recognized by the United Nations’ cultural agency UNESCO as a French way of life with “intangible cultural heritage” status. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

In this photo taken on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, Laetitia of “Le Passage” restaurant decants a Medoc red wine in Paris. Paris’ bistros and terraces have formed an association of bistros owners to launch a campaign to be recognized by the United Nations’ cultural agency UNESCO as a French way of life with “intangible cultural heritage” status. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

In this photo taken on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, the napkins of regular diners at “La Petite Perigourdine” restaurant are kept on small shelves, awaiting their next visit, in Paris. Paris’ bistros and terraces have formed an association of bistros owners to launch a campaign to be recognized by the United Nations’ cultural agency UNESCO as a French way of life with “intangible cultural heritage” status. AP Photo/Francois Mori)

In this photo taken on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, Laetitia of “Le Passage” restaurant displays a strawberry biscuit desert in Paris. bistros and terraces have formed an association of bistros owners to launch a campaign to be recognized by the United Nations’ cultural agency UNESCO as a French way of life with “intangible cultural heritage” status. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

In this photo taken on Monday, June 25, 2018, a couple attend a romantic diner at “La Cave a Jojo” restaurant in Montmartre district, in Paris. Paris’ bistros and terraces have formed an association of bistros owners to launch a campaign to be recognized by the United Nations’ cultural agency UNESCO as a French way of life with “intangible cultural heritage” status. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

In this photo taken on Thursday, June 7, 2018, menu prices for “Le Daudet” restaurant are displayed on a decorated wall in Paris. Paris’ bistros and terraces have formed an association of bistros owners to launch a campaign to be recognized by the United Nations’ cultural agency UNESCO as a French way of life with “intangible cultural heritage” status. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

In this photo taken on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, Waiter Jean Marc of “La Petite Perigourdine” restaurant serves a red wine in Paris. Paris’ bistros and terraces have formed an association of bistros owners to launch a campaign to be recognized by the United Nations’ cultural agency UNESCO as a French way of life with “intangible cultural heritage” status. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

In this photo taken on Tuesday, June 26, 2018, Parisians relax on a terrace at “Bistrot d’Avron” restaurant in Paris. Paris’ bistros and terraces have formed an association of bistros owners to launch a campaign to be recognized by the United Nations’ cultural agency UNESCO as a French way of life with “intangible cultural heritage” status. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

In this photo taken on Monday, June 25, 2018, Anna Amurova from Russia strikes a pose at “La Bonne Franquette” restaurant where Vincent Van Gogh was inspired for the 1886 oil painting “La Guinguette”, at Montmartre district, in Paris. Paris’ bistros and terraces have formed an association of bistros owners to launch a campaign to be recognized by the United Nations’ cultural agency UNESCO as a French way of life with “intangible cultural heritage” status. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

In this photo taken on Monday, June 25, 2018, Owner Patrick Fracheboud of “La Bonne Franquette” restaurant poses in his restaurant, where artist Vincent Van Gogh was inspired for the 1886 oil painting “La Guinguette”, at Montmartre district, in Paris. Paris’ bistros and terraces have formed an association of bistros owners to launch a campaign to be recognized by the United Nations’ cultural agency UNESCO as a French way of life with “intangible cultural heritage” status. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

In this photo taken on Monday, June 11, 2018, Chef Alain Fontaine of the “Mesturet” restaurant and launcher of the “Paris’ Bistro and Terraces” association poses for a photo in Paris. Paris’ bistros and terraces have formed an association of bistros owners to launch a campaign to be recognized by the United Nations’ cultural agency UNESCO as a French way of life with “intangible cultural heritage” status. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

In this photo taken on Thursday, June 7, 2018, Pierre-Christophe Hantz, and chef Michelle Steiner of “Le Vaudesir” restaurant, in the XIVth district, pose behind their bar counter, called “zinc” in French, in Paris. Paris’ bistros and terraces have formed an association of bistros owners to launch a campaign to be recognized by the United Nations’ cultural agency UNESCO as a French way of life with “intangible cultural heritage” status. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

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