Tue, Apr 07, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Paris cafe owners rage against pavement limits

THE GUARDIAN , PARIS

They have the sun, the scarves and the cigarettes — but, for the residents of one of the French capital’s most popular neighborhoods, one element of the Parisian springtime is under threat as never before.

Local authorities in central Paris are preparing to crackdown on the pavement cafes of the historic rue Montorgueil, insisting their outside terrasses are too large and are a hazard for cars and passers-by.

The plans to downsize, which will strictly limit the extent to which chairs and tables can spread into the road, have sparked rage among the cafe owners of the busy market thoroughfare, which has attracted even the Queen to its world-famous Stohrer bakery.

Hamdi Adel, one of many owners to have put up a placard in his window reading “Neighborhood endangered. Shopkeepers enraged,” said the removal of his third row of tables could cause his profits to fall by up to 50 percent.

“If this happens there will be fewer people, less work, less money. We’ll be screwed,” said Adel, who runs a creperie and an adjoining cafe.

Jacques Boutault, the local Green party mayor, said the restrictions, due to be implemented this week, are merely in keeping with the law. Despite being the fifth most visited street in Paris, the rue Montorgueil is only semi-pedestrianized and must allow certain vehicles to pass through.

“Our eco-mayor has decided to give priority to traffic over people,” said Mathieu Manzoni, joint owner of restaurant Drole d’endroit pour une rencontre.

Boutault defended his decision to demarcate the pavements, saying residents felt uneasy about the terrasses.

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