La vie est belle !

B is for “Bistrots Authentiques”

My theme – “26 Things I’d Like To See During Our Trip To France”

 

 B is for “Bistrots Authentiques” 

What is this? Qu’est-ce que c’est ?

I think it isn’t just a single place, but a feeling, an idea, an experience. According to this Wiki, it is “a small restaurant serving moderately priced simple meals in a modest setting.”

 

Where is it? Où est-ce?  

Of course, I’m hoping to find that it’s everywhere, in large cities, but particularly in small towns. I mentioned in an earlier post a little restaurant/cave à vins in Nice, which made the news for rewarding its clients for being polite. I understand that La Petite Syrah is not exactly a textbook “Bistrot” but I think the idea is similar. In any case I hope to visit many places like this during our visit to France. Jean B'e9raud Au Bistro

Why do I want to go there? Pourquoi est-ce que je veux y aller ?

While looking (comme toujours – like always – yes, I’m a geek) for ways to learn and practice the language, I found an article on this site (Bonjour de France – a really great free site for learning French language). The article is about how these places are kind of disappearing, numbering only 50-60,000 in 2012 as opposed to 510,000 in 1910. The advent of technology like TV which keeps people at home rather than going out, and an economy which simply doesn’t allow people to afford that daily visit to the local bistrot are among the reasons for the decline. But it also talks of how these places are re-emerging in a changed form, becoming more specialized, or catering to a younger, wi-fi loving crowd for example. In any case, I hope that we’ll find some good examples of the more “traditional” sort during our travels. I need to say that I just changed this post from my original plan, thanks to a chat I had yesterday with une amie française. I must give her most of the credit for this post. She lives in the south of France, and has graciously invited us to visit her while we are there. She shared with me a photo and a verbal description (in beautiful French – I love her voice ) of just such a place near her home. It is unassuming, and in fact says right on the front that it also sells articles de pêche (fishing supplies). You just can’t get more local than that. In her photo there is a table out front where a man sits reading a newspaper. There is a coffee cup in front of him, and he has a small child with him in a stroller. It looks as though there might have been a juice for the child. You can tell he is not in a hurry (Il n’est pas pressé) What a nice image of a slice of la vie française (the French life). I hope to catch a glimpse of it when I’m there. Les attractions touristiques (tourist attractions) have their place and time, and we will see many of them, but my husband and I have always been fans of trying to see just a little bit of why people live in the places we visit.

 

And you, dear A to Z-ers?  Et vous ? 

Have you visited some authentic bistrots in France? What was it like? Did you feel welcome, or like an outsider? Was it in a city or a small village? Did you face a language barrier? Tell me! 🙂

 

Alors à demain, chers lecteurs ! See you tomorrow!

 

P.S. I really had no idea how *huge* A to Z would be! I’m humbled, amazed and awed that so many great writers, poets, thinkers, storytellers, have visited “mon petit blog” because of A to Z…and it’s only the first day! I’m discovering some very interesting people and their blogs through this. Well, I must go “hopping” through some more of the list! Yay!

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28 Responses to “B is for “Bistrots Authentiques””

  1. Elizabeth Hein

    My husband and I have had the opportunity to visit France several times over the last few decades for both work and play. We ate at many small bistros in our travels. I encourage you to visit as many as you can. My best advice is don’t eat like an American. Eat the prix fixe menu, it will be the best thing they have. Each bistro has specialities that will be delicious. Also, French people speak remarkably good English but do appreciate you trying to speak French. Several times, our waiter spent extra time with us practicing his English and chatting with us. Bistros are one of the best parts of visiting France.

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  2. Debra

    Bienvenue! I am sorry to hear they may be disappearing. That is like one of the best things about France.

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  3. notesinabook

    I went to a bistro while in Paris a few years back (how authentic it was I am not sure), however, we had a delicious stew/slow cooked dish that had used parts of the cow you would not normally order at a restaurant at home. We sat outside on a street side table and had a long leisurely meal. It was a great experience.

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  4. Agnès

    Quel plaisir de lire tes textes émailléś d’expressions françaises. Je suis admirative de tes divers talents et en particulier de celui d’écrivaine . Bonne continuation avec la lettre C et au plaisir de te lire.

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  5. Sammy D.

    You can find authenticity in larger cities by heading to residential areas on the edge of all the bustle. Will have no problem finding places in Paris. Small villages ( unless they are on bus tour routes) are stll “local”. But I do wonder – as you said- places are changing to accomodate a younger “wired” generation, and that is probably happening globally, not just in US. I’m curious if older generations hate the change as much as we do. The most unique (and welcome) difference I found in Europe – there isn’t blaring music in restaurants and coffeehouses – the background ambiance is quiet conversation and the clink of knives and forks, not music so loud you can’t converse with your companion.

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    • jetgirlcos

      Thanks for the comment! We will stay off the bus routes if possible 🙂 ran into that in Ireland a couple years ago !

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      • Sammy D.

        LOL I just figured out that jetgirlcos commenting on my posts is VOUS !! I cannot believe your comment about Ireland – I was there in 1978 way before bus tours, and I don’t think I’d like those roads filled with busses!. PLUS – even though you’re swamped with A to Z, I have a blogger acquaintance I want to introduce you to. You can visit her at http://fromdublintoparis.wordpress.com She is a 20-something Dubliner who recently moved to Paris for work (lucky her) and she has begun posting about her weekend forays – places Parisians go!! What a stroke of luck for you to have an inside scoop on what to see. I just know you two are going to hit it off – Ireland, Francophiles and fluent in French. As I told her, I am going to travel vicariously in both your pockets. Enjoy her.

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  6. renatabu

    I have never been to France but it is my life long dream to do so at some point. In the meantime, I am happy to have found you here as a fellow A-Z blogger and enjoy reading your posts!

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  7. LindaGHill

    I lived in La Belle Province du Quebec for fifteen years. Nothing like France, but I experienced many culture barriers, if not language ones while I was there. But most people will try to help, even if one doesn’t know any of the language. It sounds as though you know a lot of French!

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    • jetgirlcos

      I am also fascinated with Québec…our first visit there last week was amazing and we really do want to go back. As for the French I can sort of get along but some of the Québécois accents are a bit difficult for me at least at this stage. I managed to get directions once in French in Montreal and order two cupcakes but that was about it this time around. Plus the flat tire, but those guys spoke English after the first bit.

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      • LindaGHill

        It’s true – Quebecois is nothing at all like Parisien French. Most people in Quebec don’t understand it. I absolutely love old Montreal, and Quebec City. Great places to visit! 😀

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        • jetgirlcos

          I’m fortunate to have several Québécois friends to help me out ! 🙂 I’m definitely looking forward to taking more trips to Québec.

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  8. halleygentil

    oui, oui et encore oui ! quelle bonne idée !

    I have visited some great bistrots both in big French cities as well as middle-of-nowhere towns. Both have their charm. 🙂

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  9. Guilie Castillo

    Mais oui, les bistrots…. Love them. And thanks for that link to the Bonjour site–I’m in dire need of recovering my French, as it’s the only language I have in common with my Haitian gardener. It’s in my garden’s best interest, I think, that I reacquire some vocabulary 😀

    Happy A-to-Z-ing!
    Guilie @ Quiet Laughter

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  10. lisabuiecollard

    What a great idea to post about what you’d like to see in France! I’m posting about the things I love about France, so if you’d like, hop on over and take a look. Looks like you’re doing well with the language, which will be a huge help! Most folks there simply love it when you even at least try to speak their language, so you should do very well! When are you going?

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    • jetgirlcos

      Thanks! I’ll “hop” over there shortly! I love the language, I’ve been studying it for two years, mostly for this trip, but I’ve met some lovely people in the process, too. We are going in the fall.

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  11. Donna Smith

    Never been to Europe, let alone France. I did go to Quebec on my honeymoon over 40 years ago. I had taken French for 4 years in HS and a half a year in college, but it was quite a bit different there. I’ve lost most of it now for speaking, though reading it is easier.
    Donna Smith
    The A-to-Z Challenge
    Mainely Write

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    • jetgirlcos

      Thanks for reading, Donna. And congrats on your 500th post and also “over 40” years of marriage! That’s wonderful 🙂

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  12. frederick anderson

    Too long now since I was last in France, but in my memory the food was one of its greatest glories. The restaurants, bistros? As variable, really, as those in England: that unique French blend of arrogance and charm, though, was what made the dining experience so special. It would be a great shame if that was forced to change.

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