Paris Eateries Seek UN Recognition as a Cultural Treasure

2018-06-19

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1
  • Owners of small restaurants in Paris known as bistros or cafes want the United Nations to recognize their importance to the French capital.
  • 2
  • They also are concerned that what they bring to the culture of Paris could disappear.
  • 3
  • The restaurant owners have launched a campaign.
  • 4
  • They want the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to place them on a list of cultural treasures.
  • 5
  • As "Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding," the restaurants and eateries would be protected.
  • 6
  • UNESCO recognizes many different traditions, from Mongolian camel rituals to Iranian sailboat building to musical prayers of native Peruvians.
  • 7
  • Members of a bistro owners association gathered recently at Le Mesturet in central Paris.
  • 8
  • The eatery has been in the community for a long time.
  • 9
  • It was also one of the places attacked by terrorists on the night of November 13, 2015.
  • 10
  • Cooks and business owners said Parisian bistros are places where many different kinds of people come together to share a low-cost coffee or meal.
  • 11
  • But they warn that traditional bistros are threatened by increasing rents and competition.
  • 12
  • Owners say the number of bistros in Paris has dropped by half in the last 20 years.
  • 13
  • Alain Fontaine is owner of Le Mesturet and president of the association.
  • 14
  • He said, "Our most beautiful love and friendship stories were born in bistros and on terraces."
  • 15
  • He said tourists who go to the city's bistros "will find a lively place, a place to share with the people of Paris - the people of Paris today, not the people of the past."
  • 16
  • Fontaine said the city is multi-ethnic, inter-faith and socially varied.
  • 17
  • But he said of those differences: "All of this disappears inside a bistro."
  • 18
  • Fontaine said a real Parisian bistro offers homemade food at reasonable prices.
  • 19
  • A full meal and a glass of wine should cost about 12 euros, or $14.
  • 20
  • A small cup of strong coffee goes for a little more than $1.
  • 21
  • Fontaine's association hopes that UNESCO will consider its candidacy next year.
  • 22
  • City officials are also hopeful; Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo supports the effort.
  • 23
  • Stephanie Mathey owns three bistros in Paris.
  • 24
  • The 39-year-old said she has always enjoyed the city's bistros, even before they became her life's work.
  • 25
  • Her husband once was in the United States for a long time, she said.
  • 26
  • "When he came back [to Paris], he said, 'It's really something that I missed - the bistros.'"
  • 27
  • The pair later decided to open their own bistro.
  • 28
  • Fontaine still gets emotional when he thinks about the attacks of 2015.
  • 29
  • Violent extremists targeted a concert hall, a soccer stadium and several cafes.
  • 30
  • One hundred thirty people were killed.
  • 31
  • He said the attacks hurt because they targeted the Parisian "way of life."
  • 32
  • After the attacks, Parisians supported the cafes and bistros by going to them in large numbers in a show of defiance.
  • 33
  • I'm Mario Ritter.
  • 1
  • Owners of small restaurants in Paris known as bistros or cafes want the United Nations to recognize their importance to the French capital.
  • 2
  • They also are concerned that what they bring to the culture of Paris could disappear.
  • 3
  • The restaurant owners have launched a campaign. They want the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to place them on a list of cultural treasures. As "Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding," the restaurants and eateries would be protected.
  • 4
  • UNESCO recognizes many different traditions, from Mongolian camel rituals to Iranian sailboat building to musical prayers of native Peruvians.
  • 5
  • Members of a bistro owners association gathered recently at Le Mesturet in central Paris. The eatery has been in the community for a long time. It was also one of the places attacked by terrorists on the night of November 13, 2015.
  • 6
  • Places were people come together
  • 7
  • Cooks and business owners said Parisian bistros are places where many different kinds of people come together to share a low-cost coffee or meal.
  • 8
  • But they warn that traditional bistros are threatened by increasing rents and competition. Owners say the number of bistros in Paris has dropped by half in the last 20 years.
  • 9
  • Alain Fontaine is owner of Le Mesturet and president of the association. He said, "Our most beautiful love and friendship stories were born in bistros and on terraces."
  • 10
  • He said tourists who go to the city's bistros "will find a lively place, a place to share with the people of Paris - the people of Paris today, not the people of the past."
  • 11
  • Fontaine said the city is multi-ethnic, inter-faith and socially varied. But he said of those differences: "All of this disappears inside a bistro."
  • 12
  • Fontaine said a real Parisian bistro offers homemade food at reasonable prices. A full meal and a glass of wine should cost about 12 euros, or $14. A small cup of strong coffee goes for a little more than $1.
  • 13
  • Fontaine's association hopes that UNESCO will consider its candidacy next year. City officials are also hopeful; Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo supports the effort.
  • 14
  • Stephanie Mathey owns three bistros in Paris. The 39-year-old said she has always enjoyed the city's bistros, even before they became her life's work. Her husband once was in the United States for a long time, she said.
  • 15
  • "When he came back [to Paris], he said, 'It's really something that I missed - the bistros.'" The pair later decided to open their own bistro.
  • 16
  • Fontaine still gets emotional when he thinks about the attacks of 2015. Violent extremists targeted a concert hall, a soccer stadium and several cafes. One hundred thirty people were killed.
  • 17
  • He said the attacks hurt because they targeted the Parisian "way of life."
  • 18
  • After the attacks, Parisians supported the cafes and bistros by going to them in large numbers in a show of defiance.
  • 19
  • I'm Mario Ritter.
  • 20
  • Mario Ritter adapted this story for VOA Learning English from an AP report. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
  • 21
  • _____________________________________________________________
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  • Words in This Story
  • 23
  • rituals -n. acts done in a special way and in the same way each time
  • 24
  • intangible -adj. not made of physical substance: not able to be touched
  • 25
  • heritage -n. the traditions and beliefs that are part of the history of a group of people
  • 26
  • rent -n. money paid in order to live in or use a property
  • 27
  • tourists -n. people who travel for pleasure, not business
  • 28
  • varied -adj. involving many different kinds
  • 29
  • defiance -n. refusal to obey someone or something
  • 30
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