All posts by Lisa Anselmo

Author of My (Part-Time) Paris Life, branding coach, creative director. If I'm not in New York or Paris, I'm on a plane to one of them. Follow my story at:

Sign the Petition to Save Les Pipos

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The residents of one neighborhood in Paris are fighting for their lives—the lives they’re used to in their close-knit community, a way of life that is fast disappearing. And this fight is centered around a small, unassuming bistro called Les Pipos.

Click to sign the petition to save Les Pipos.

For over 130 years, the residents of this 5th arrondissement community have gathered within these walls to share some beaux moments. Owners have come and gone, the name has changed, but the bistro itself, and the neighborhood—the Montagne Sainte Geneviève district—have not. It’s for this reason American director Woody Allen chose this Left Bank village for his film Midnight in Paris, and Les Pipos for his downtime during filming.

From the outside, Les Pipos doesn’t look like much, but as soon as you enter, you understand its appeal. The centerpiece of its cozy interior is an ornately carved bar, installed in 1946. The mosaic floor, too, dates from the Second World War. The panelling and staircase? Much older. The walls are covered in old photos, posters, and other memorabilia, marking the years—and the clients who have passed through this place.

The ornate, zinc-top bar at Les Pipos dates from the Second World War. ©Lisa Anselmo
The interior of Les Pipos dates from just after the Second World War. But some of it, like the paneling, is 100+ years old. It’s quiet at this hour, but after 6pm it comes alive. ©Lisa Anselmo

Click to sign the petition to save Les Pipos.

Though steeped in history, Les Pipos is not stuck in the past. A favorite with the locals, it’s bustling nearly every night. You need a reservation for dinner here. The impressive collection of wines draws serious connoisseurs; live music packs them in on weekends. It’s a gold mine.

But none of that matters in a city where profit is king. Gentrification and rising rents are pushing out the thriving small businesses that serve our daily needs. In their place, faceless chain stores. Our local communities are being transformed into transient commercial zones, and Paris is losing its soul.

If the landlord of Les Pipos has his way, the soul of this neighborhood in the 5th will be gone, too. Word is he wants the bistro out, maybe for a high-paying retailer, and is in negotiations with the bistro’s owner.

The clients of Les Pipos aren’t taking this lying down, and have launched a petition asking the city and UNESCO to intervene and landmark the site. It’s unclear what can be done, but the more signatures they get, the bigger case they can make. So add yours.

A detail of the ornate bar at Les Pipos. ©Lisa Anselmo

Places like Les Pipos seem eternal, untouchable. But they’re not. Nothing is sacred when cities put profit over people. Small businesses and the vital communities they serve are the casualties in this fast-grab economy, which rewards only the biggest players. Please sign to the petition to save Les Pipos—and help save local community life in Paris. A translation of the French petition is below.

Les Pipos 2, rue de l’Ecole Polytechnique, 5ème

Click to sign the petition to save Les Pipos.

English Translation of the Petition:

English Translation of the Petition:

Caught up in a juicy real estate deal, Les Pipos, one of grandfathers of the Parisian bistro, is on the verge of disappearing permanently.

In the heart of the Montagne Sainte Geneviève district, this bistro has seen since the end of the 19th Century—its artists, writers, politicians, artisans, workers, who have embodied a lifestyle that is emblematic of Parisian heritage.

Les Pipos remains a place where people from different generations and backgrounds gather. We meet here, we talk, we exchange. It’s the soul and pillar of the neighborhood for those who live here, find themselves here—and for many others, who seek out the village spirit of the area, and the lifestyle that continues here.

“Bistros are a place of sharing, mixing, which enables our city to be different from other capital cities,” rightfully said Madame Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris. It is in this spirit that we seek to preserve this last neighborhood bistro so emblematic of Parisian culture.

Thus, with the support of The Association for the Inscription to the Intangible Heritage of UNESCO of the tradition and way of life of bistros and terraces of Paris, we ask the Mayor of Paris, as well as the Ministry of Culture, to move to protect this establishment so that this gathering spot of more than a hundred years continues to be a place that brings a diverse community of Parisians together.


Café Photo of the Week

Café Photo of the Week is published every Wednesday, and showcases photography from our staff, contributors, and readers.

Service Continu, by Patty Sadauskas

©Patty Sadauskas

Another gem from Patty Sadauskas. Non-stop service—or service continu—on this warm and inviting terrace during a raw night, courtesy of La Tour du Temple in the 3rd.

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Café La Tour du Temple, 160bis Rue du Temple, 3ème

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Café Photo of the Week? Click here for submission rules.
If we like it, we’ll publish it with a photo credit!
Submission does not guarantee publication. Accepted photos will run in the order they are received. When you submit a photo, you give Save the Paris Café non-exclusive rights to publish it, free of charge, on our website and in social media, in perpetuity.

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5 Café Deco Trends We’re Over Already

by Lisa Anselmo

If someone were to say “Paris café style” to you, it would probably conjure up some immediate images: bentwood chairs, globe lights, wood paneling, maybe even a zinc bar. There’s a classic look to a café. A tad cliché, maybe, but it has stood the test of time, and somehow never looks dated, much like the American diner.

But even Paris cafés go through a relooking—makeover—every decade or so. Usually the changes stay somewhat within the vernacular: a new awning, a redux of their rattan Maison Gatti chairs, signage redesign. Mostly, it’s a much-needed refresh, yet it still feels Parisian: stylish, but not too trendy.

A Belle Epoque café captured by Ilya Repin in 1875. Wikimedia Commons


But we’re in a Pinterest world now, where design decisions are crowd-sourced. It’s not about creating a unique look based on your brand identity; it’s about fitting in. With cafés struggling to stay in business, they’re not just renovating, they are actually duplicating each other in a scramble to stay on the map. If one changes their red awning to blue, so does the next one down the street. Aided and inspired by social media, trends sweep the city from quartier to quartier like a contagion, stamping out the authentic and replacing it with the Instagram-able.

“Tropical Chic.” One of the hot trends on Pinterest right now that’s sweeping Paris cafés. Courtesy of Pinterest.

If you’re trying to attract customers, put that money into a good chef and better coffee, and keep the café as is.

Sure, you can argue that there’s a sameness to classic café style, but at least it’s timeless and uniquely Parisian, instead of this soulless caricature of Brooklyn that’s (super)imposing itself on the city. Everyone is conforming to the exact trends, churning them out with zero interpretation: the same industrial furniture, the same cold color palate, the same minimalist feel—like hipster McDonalds franchises—so the look is already played out, even before the paint is dry on that relooking.


No one is saying modern is bad. We’re talking about bad choices. When you design anything based solely on the trend of the day, you risk a result that might not resonate longterm. It’s just bad business. Cafés spend a lot to renovate—money they can ill afford in this economy—and it’s heartbreaking when they choose styles that will look dated in a year, especially after they’ve gutted their original 100-year-old interior to do it, one that still looked perfectly on brand, and would have for years to come.

Designer Matthew Waldman is famous for saying “the future should not look like the past.” You could add that it also shouldn’t look like the fleeting moment. If you must modernize, think about how your makeover design will look in five years’ time. If it won’t hold up like your current interior, scrap your plan. At the end of the day, if you’re trying to attract customers, put that same money into a good chef and better coffee, and keep the café as is.

Behold, the top 5 trends in café deco that we’re over already:


An obligatory element in any café makeover. A cool look…5 years ago. It’s a café, not a lab in Menlo Park, New Jersey. Put a lampshade on that thing; you’re burning our retinas.

And speaking of lampshades…


The first time we saw this it seemed sort of design-y, but after the 50th café, Paris is starting to look more like a cheap beach resort. Baskets are for bread.


About as comfortable as sitting on a barbed wire fence, mais non? We’re assuming you don’t want us stay long. Even more fun for your fanny after that thing has been baking in the hot sun all day. Youch!


Oh, sweetie, no. Do you really expect two people to eat at this flimsy little thing? There are limits to how far to take a trend. You may have reached it.


Giant palm fronds, pink flamingos—it’s so oddly specific, and so woefully out of place. Yet there it is, hopping from café to café, like a conga line. Even my local has gone Copa Cabana bananas.

My local. With basket lampshades for the full Tropicana effect. Babalu aye!

Top photo: Courtesy of Croco, formerly Café Cassis. Ironically, the idea for Save the Paris Café was born in the defuct Cassis. Croco is an entirely tropical-themed café…except for the food (though it’s pretty decent). But go figure.

Is anyone doing these trends right? Check out Mon Coco, at 6 Place de la Republique. The decor is more thoughtfully done: classic bentwood chairs are paired with the “Brooklyn-style” industrial table; a whimsical straw chandelier (instead of the ubiquitous basket lamp) hangs over a plush blue velvet booth; instead of tropical wallpaper, a mural by a street artist nods to the area’s gritty vibe. It makes a unique statement because it’s an extension of who they are, vs. what’s trendy, so it has a far better chance of holding up as time goes by.

Which Paris café has your favorite interior design? Let us know!

LISA ANSELMO is a writer, branding expert, speaker, and coach, and has worked at such iconic American magazines as Allure, InStyle, and People. She is the author of My (Part-Time) Paris Life: How Running Away Brought Me Home, (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press), and has been featured in New York magazine, Travel and Leisure, Bustle, House Hunters International, Expatriates Magazine among others.
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Introducing Café Photo of the Week


If you live in Paris or have visited Paris, you’ve got them: café photos. And if you got ’em, we want ’em. Send us a Paris café photo, and if we like it, we may run it here, in our new weekly column, Café Photo of the Week, which will post every Wednesday.

We’ll accept photos of anything related to a café: full facade in context; detail shot; view from your table—any photo that tells a story, celebrates café life, or showcases the café itself is alright with us. We’ll give you credit in the post!

Editor’s privilege for the first post. Yup, this one’s mine. Think you can do better? Good! Send it along. This was taken in 2015 at Café Manfred in the 3ème, before their “relooking” as they say in French—the makeover. ©Lisa Anselmo Instagram: @Lisa_Anselmo


Send your photo by email to, with the subject “Photo of the Week Submission.” Include your name and the name of the café, along with written permission that we have free, non-exclusive use of your photo on the Save the Paris Café website and on our social media, in perpetuity. (Oh, come on, you give away much more to social media sites every day.)


  • YES! An original photo taken by you
  • YES! Anything that showcases and celebrates cafés, and café life
  • YES! Color or black and white
  • YES! Shape format: horizontal, square, vertical
  • YES! File format: JPG (1050 pixels wide, 72 dpi); 1M max file size (larger files will be deleted)
  • YES! A cropped and retouched photo, prepped for Web.
  • YES! Name of café
  • YES! Your name
  • YES! Your social media handle for your photos, if you have one (i.e. Instagram, Flickr, Tumblr, Behance, etc. No Facebook or Twitter, please)
  • YES! Title of photo, and an optional brief description or caption (35 words max)
  • YES! Written permission to use your photo on our site and social media


  • NO. A photo that is not yours
  • NO. Previously published photos (or that’s already made the rounds on social media). We prefer fresh eyes.
  • NO. Straight-up food porn (unless placed within some context of the café)
  • NO. Portraits where the café is not the star, or there is no clear context
  • NO. Blatant advertising or self-promotion
  • NO. Watermarking or branding on the photo (your work will be properly credited on the page)
  • NO. Screen shots from your other sites (source files only, please)

Send submissions to, with the subject “Photo of the Week Submission.” Make sure submissions comply with the above rules. Due to maximal work and minimal staff, we cannot notify you if your photo runs. To receive up-to-the-minute posts, subscribe to our newsletter, or like us on Facebook. (Cheeky, yes, but really it’s the best way.)

Apero at Le Nord Sud, 18ème. This from staff photographer, Patty Sadauskas. It works because it tells a story. What’s your café story? ©Patty Sadauskas Instagram: @parisonadime @geniunefrance

Submission of your photos to Save the Paris Café gives us the non-exclusive rights to publish your photo in perpetuity on our site and our social media. You affirm that all photos submitted are taken by you and that you have the sole right to submit for publication. Save the Paris Café is not responsible for rights abuses of any photos that were not submitted as per our rights and usage rules. Photos will be run with credit. You have the right to promote your post in social media, provided you link back to the page on Save the Paris Café. We cannot notify you if your photo runs.

SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER in the sidebar above left, and never miss a single post of Café Photo of the Week. Plus, get the latest articles, news, and more.

Cover image: ©Lisa Anselmo; Instagram: @lisa_anselmo

Welcome to Save the Paris Café

(Our First) Letter from the Editor

Hello, readers!

Well, we are officially launched. C’est parti, as they say: here we go! For those hundred or so of you who have already subscribed during our beta stage, what can we say but, “merci!” And, if you’re just finding us now: bienvenue. Welcome, friends.

Who are we? We are an ever-growing group of French and expat collaborators, all lovers of café life in Paris, who will be extolling the wonders of the Paris café, and sharing the latest café news. For more on that, and why we do what we do, go here.

Photo: Edith de Belleville

What will you find in our pages? In the coming weeks, we’ll be publishing articles from, and interviews with, notable locals, writers and authors, restaurateurs, and other residents sharing their stories  and backstories about their favorites cafés, café trends and news, and café culture in Paris. We’ll highlight new cafés, local favorites, cafés in danger, and more. Meet our team, and our growing list of extraordinary contributors.

We hope you’ll come along with us as we grow and evolve, and celebrate the Paris café. In a globalized world, where trends come and go at a breakneck pace, and local color can become whitewashed by commercialism and gentrification, Save the Paris Café is here to remind us that we can’t take for granted the unique and wonderful gems that make Paris shine, like her cafés and the diverse communities they  serve.

Enjoy the read, and join our café cause. Your table awaits.

Lisa Anselmo
Founding and Editorial Director

Lisa Anselmo at La Grappe d’Or, in the Montorgueil district. Photo: Geoffrey Guillin

Want to write for us, or contribute a photo or video? Here’s how.
Nominate your favorite cafe.
Alert us of a café closure.

Cover image: Edith de Belleville