Paris bistros call for help to protect cultural status
Owners of the bistros and terrace cafés that are integral to the Paris way of life want the "je ne sais quoi" of their establishments to be recognised as of broader value and endangered.
They have launched a campaign 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.
Members of a bistro owners association gathered at Le Mesturet in central Paris yesterday.
With its zinc counter, wooden tables and chairs and wine bottles for decoration, it is typical of the kind of establishment people were relaxing outside during the Paris terrorist attacks on November 13, 2015.
The association said the bistros of Paris play a key role in bringing people of all origins, religions, social classes and age together in a cheap, open place to drink a coffee or share a meal.
The bistros are also threatened by increasing rents and competition and their number has dropped by half in the past 20 years, the owners argued.
"Our most beautiful love and friendship stories were often born in bistros and on terraces," said Le Mesturet owner and association president Alain Fontaine.