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THE FIGHT TO SAVE A BELOVED BISTRO—AND LOCAL COMMUNITY LIFE IN PARIS

Paris, France, December 2, 2019—The clients of the popular Latin Quarter bistro, Les Pipos, have launched a petition asking the city and UNESCO to landmark the 130-year-old site caught up in a juicy real estate deal. But this is not about nostalgia; this is a fight for their vital local community— to retain a way of life that’s fast disappearing in Paris, thanks to gentrification and rising rents.

For over 130 years, the residents of a community in the 5th arrondissement have gathered within the walls of a bistro near the Pantheon. Its owners and name have changed, but the bistro—and the neighborhood—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.

But the landlord of the building reportedly wants the popular bistro out for a high-paying retailer, and is in negotiations with the bistro’s owner to buy out his lease.

The clients of Les Pipos have banned together, to launch a petition asking the city and UNESCO to intervene and landmark the site. “When you lose a café, you lose the soul of a neighborhood,” the petition argues.

“Paris has lost over 300 cafés since 2014,” says Lisa Anselmo, Founding and Editorial Director of the project Save the Paris Café. “It’s a troubling trend. Cafés serve our diverse communities and bring people together. That’s essential, now more than ever.” The French government has launched an initiative to save cafés in small towns but there is no such aid planned for their Parisian counterparts.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who has supported the movement seeking UNESCO World Heritage status for Paris bistros says that “they are places of sharing, mixing, that enable our city to be different from other capital cities.”

But unchecked gentrification and rising rents are pushing out thriving small businesses—like Les Pipos—that serve the daily needs of Parisians. In their places, faceless chain stores. Residential communities are being transformed into transient commercial zones, and Paris is in danger of losing its local culture, and much-celebrated way of life.

“Can you imagine Paris without its cafés?” asks Anselmo. “It seems unthinkable. But if Les Pipos can be pushed out after 130 years, nothing is safe. We need policies to protect small businesses, and the vital local communities they serve, before all Paris becomes a soulless corporate shopping mall.”

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ABOUT SAVE THE PARIS CAFÉ
Save the Paris Café is a non-profit collective of writers, artists, business owners, restaurateurs—Parisians and expats—celebrating café culture.
We write about café life, feature local cafés around Paris, and create initiatives to promote the café culture of Paris, and France.
Website: https://savethepariscafe.com/
Blog: https://savethepariscafe.com/blog/
Our Team & Contributors: https://savethepariscafe.com/meet-our-team-contributors/

ABOUT LES PIPOS
Petition:
https://www.change.org/p/anne-hidalgo-sauvons-le-bistrot-les-pipos
Les Pipos, 2 rue de l’Ecole Polytechnique, Paris  75005

PRESS CONTACT
Lisa Anselmo: lisa@lisaanselmo.com

PHOTOS:

The unremarkable exterior of Les Pipos belies the priceless charm inside. ©Lisa Anselmo
The bar and mosaic tile floor of Les Pipos dates from just after the Second World War. But some of it, like the paneling and staircase are possibly nearly 100 years old. ©Lisa Anselmo
The interior of Les Pipos dates from just after the Second World War. But some of it, like the paneling, is nearly 100 years old. It’s quiet at this hour, but after 6pm it comes alive. ©Lisa Anselmo

Vive la vie de flâneur

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