Parisian Bistros are an integral part of the atmosphere of the capital. Their closure during due to the Covid caused a part of the soul of Paris to be lost for some time.

A symbol of the City of Paris

The Parisian bistros is one of the great inseparable symbols of the city of Paris. Café-restaurant-bar, you can have a drink, nibble, eat small traditional French dishes, generally cooked à la bonne franquette. Red and white checkered tablecloths, sometimes in plastic, sometimes in paper, fast service without too much fuss, a popular and family atmosphere and prices in most cases affordable are the recipe for success of the Parisian bistro.
« bistro » is one of those typical Parisian terms of which there are so many ! While they take various forms today, Parisian bistros were originally small, unpretentious cafés run by those known as “bougnats” – Auvergne immigrants who left their impoverished lands during the Industrial Revolution. to settle in Paris and open their small business. These establishments were recognized by their very popular atmosphere.

Parisian bistros

Copyright Elisabeth Perotin

Parisian bistros
Parisian bistros
Parisian bistros

A Russian name

The origin of the word « bistro » will come from the Russian occupation after the French campaign of 1814. Indeed, we found on the facade of the restaurant of Mother Catherine on the Place du Tertre, in Montmartre, a plaque explaining the etymology of this term. According to the inscription, the Cossacks, stationed in Paris after the defeat of Napoleon 1st, had the habit of going to drink quietly in the cafes of the city during their service. Afraid of being surprised by their superiors, they impatiently challenged the café owners to serve them, shouting to them in Russian “Bistro! Bistro! which meant “Quick! Fast ! « . Struck by the exoticism of this expression, the tenants were inspired by it to rename their cafés.

Parisian bistros
Parisian bistros
Parisian bistros

An easily identifiable style

The bistro has an easily identifiable style with basic, precise and simple equipment. The counter is made of zinc equipped with a beer pump, hence the expression “drinking a foam on the zinc”. Behind the bar on the refrigerated cabinets sits the coffee machine which allows you to serve an “espresso” unless you prefer a “Allongé” one. The tables are small for heads to heads, the famous bistro tables. They are larger to settle in several. We sit on 1900 style wooden chairs, sometimes on benches or more comfortable seats, braided or covered with colored leatherette. Padded benches await you along the walls. Conviviality is the order of the day with newspapers and magazines made available, but also organized card games, dice games, checkers or chess. The walls are dressed with exhibitions of photos and paintings. During the successive confinements due to the Covid 19 health crisis, their closure made us all realize that they were an integral part of the city of Paris.

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