Gone in a heart beat… 23 November 2008Posted by marisacat in France, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Paris, WAR!.
Bar Tabac Brasserie du petit coin, Quai du Louvre, Paris [Flickr]
“Now there’s no one,” she said, standing in a somber room with a few sad holiday decorations, an idle pool table and one young man playing a video game.
“People fear the future, and now with the banking crisis, they are even more afraid,” she said, her eyes reddening. “They buy a bottle at the supermarket and they drink it at home.”
The plight of Ms. Guérin is being replicated all over France, as traditional cafes and bars suffer and even close, hit by changing attitudes, habits and now a poor economic climate. In 1960, France had 200,000 cafes, said Bernard Quartier, president of the National Federation of Cafes, Brasseries and Discotheques. Now it has fewer than 41,500, with an average of two closing every day.
People are drinking less, smoking less and spending less, and even those who drink are newly wary of the local police, who now hover near the bar, especially at night, to test the sobriety of drivers. President Nicolas Sarkozy has asked the police to crack down on drunken drivers.
“Workers don’t take taxis,” Mr. Perrey said, stroking his lavish mustache and laughing. He gleefully showed photos of a small police car wrapped around a tree in his parking lot after an accident, saying, “They had to call the firemen to get them out!”
The cafe, he said, is a kind of public living room, especially in small towns and cities, and it is suffering as habits and laws change.
“We need the cafe to have an equilibrium between the village and the world outside,” Mr. Perrey said. “Without the cafe, you lose the conviviality. You lose your mates. Business agreements are made behind the zinc” of the bar.
“We have to be very careful,” Mr. Perrey continued. “If we standardize everything in France, and we study everything, and forbid everything, we destroy respect for our culture. We need to preserve the cafe bar. What is a village but a cafe, a school, a pharmacy, a bakery and a city hall?”
Somehow I don’t think Sarko is too sad at the stress and loss of business put on shisha tearooms, serving the North African community …
Paris, December 7, 2007 — L’Elies tearoom, one of a dozen thriving shisha bars tucked away off the trendy bar-lined Rue Oberkampf in eastern Paris, is contemplating a quiet death. At weekends the place is full of young Parisians and middle-aged men from the local north African community.
“Our customers come here especially for our white grape tobacco,” said the manager, Samy Boughida, as he rubbed some of the substance between his fingers to release a sweet, syrupy smell. “They sit and smoke for hours.”
and hookah bars, with their following.. Places for smokers and now restricted to building “smoking rooms” of small, legally restricted size, fully enclosed, one fifth of overall floor space and ventilated. Or restricting smoking, as the law permits, to outside terraces, not something small places on small side streets, in French towns and cities, have… impossible in winter, in any case.
Photo: Le Figaro
Ah well, plus ca change, plus ca change.