在Le Bistrot du Peintre，店员会欢快的打招呼迎接每位进店的顾客，而常客还会被叫出名字，并且被热情的握手或得到约定俗成的法式贴面礼。
“小酒馆是一个闲聊和交流生活方式的地方，”他在自己的巴黎小酒馆Le Mesturet里谈到， “你可以看到蓝领工人与首席执行官还有办公室工作人员挤在一起，一起享受咖啡和红酒，谈天说地。任何人都能负担得起小酒馆的物价，这这里所有的社会经济界限都被消除了。”
It’s lunchtime at a busy neighbourhood bistro in Paris’ 11th arrondissement. A pair of young male servers are gliding through the restaurant, juggling plates groaning with roast chicken and frites, duck confit and beef tartare, and sliding them across the tables to their customers in swift but graceful movements.
Sitting in the corner of the bar, a lone man has ordered a cheese plate, a green salad and a glass of red wine, and is consumed by his newspaper. It’s not long before a tall, middle-aged man enters the restaurant, calls out ‘Georges’, shakes his hand with a hearty one-two pump and takes the seat next to him. It’s immediately apparent that Georges’ friend is the kind of bar fixture who has the gift of banter.
“When are you going to take my order?” he teases the bartender in an accusatory tone.
At Le Bistrot du Peintre, while every customer who crosses the threshold is greeted with a bright and cheerful ‘bonjour’, the regulars are welcomed by name and outstretched hands for quick, firm handshakes or customary French cheek-to-cheek kisses.
It’s this uniquely Parisian culture that Alain Fontaine wants to preserve and protect. The chef and restaurateur has launched a high-profile campaign seeking Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage status for the ‘art de vivre’ (art of living) found in bistros and cafe terraces throughout Paris.
By Fontaine’s definition, an authentic bistro is an eatery that’s open continuously morning to night, serves French comfort foods at moderate prices, and houses an active bar where locals can gather for a drink and some lively conversation.
“The bistro bar is a place of exchange, of conversation, a way of life,” he explained at his own Paris bistro Le Mesturet. “You can have a blue-collar worker elbow-to-elbow with a CEO and an office worker, sharing a coffee, a glass of wine, discussing everything and nothing. Anyone can afford bistro prices, erasing all socio-economic lines.”
The bistro culture has long been part of Parisian mythology, popularised by literary and philosophical greats like Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir who made bistros and cafes their second homes and offices.
“What we want to defend is this art de vivre in the bistro that allows us to live together, exchange together, this cultural melting pot.”