€10 for a coffee on the terrace! French café takes a stand

A café in southern France is taking a stand against a famed aspect French café culture by charging €10 for an espresso - five to ten times the usual price.

€10 for a coffee on the terrace! French café takes a stand
Photo: marcovdz/Flickr
There's nothing more pleasant than enjoying a slow and lazy coffee on the terrace of a French café whilst chatting or people watching, right?
In fact it's one of the many reasons people come to France. And while Anglos might get twitchy about hanging around post-coffee, the French are far more comfortable with finishing their espresso and then enjoying the next hour in front of an empty cup just chatting away with friends.
But for Jean-Michel Bonnus, the owner of La Réale brasserie in southern France's Toulon, this simply won't do. 
He says he is sick of customers dilly-dallying about with a simple coffee and a glass of water when he wants them to be buying cocktails.
And in a bid to draw attention to his plight, he upped the price of a simple black coffee – the kind which usually sells for between €1 and  €2 – to a whopping €10 in a bid to deter coffee drinkers from clogging up his terrace. 
The price increase came into effect a week ago and applies from 5pm each day. Bonnus told the local Var Matin newspaper that he originally had priced the coffees at €50 but chose to revise the figures.
Originally, the café had simply refused to serve customers any coffee at all in the evenings but this prompted complaints, forcing the owner to reconsider his plan of attack. 
Now, his café comes with a handwritten note on the window explicitly stating the new price. 
“People walking past think it's a joke when they see the sign plastered in my window,” he told the paper.
“Now I don't sell coffee in the late afternoon, but if a customer wants to take one at the price offered then I will happily serve it up.”
Other café owners in France have pulled off similar stunts in the past in a bid to change an aspect of French café culture they don't particularly like – impoliteness.
The Petite Syrah café in the Riviera city of Nice made world headlines in 2013 when it implemented a new pricing scheme, as seen in the picture below.

“A coffee” set customers back €7, according to the sign, while “a coffee please” came at €4.25.

Those who said: “Hello, a coffee please” were only charged €1.40.

The café manager Fabrice Pepino told The Local at the time that it started as a joke, but ended with a definite improvement in customer/employee relations.
“I know people say that French service can be rude but it's also true that customers can be rude when they’re busy,” he said. 
The move apparently has sparked many other French cafés to do the same, as The Local reported in April this year.
So what can us foreigners, immigrants, and expats learn from all this when ordering a coffee at a French terrace?
Well, the advice seems to be to mind your manners, don't hang around for too long, and – of course – read our full guide to France's terrace culture here. Bonne chance. 
Elbows in: A guide to the terrace culture of French cafés

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Paris’ extended café terraces can become permanent, city hall rules

The temporary extension to Paris café terraces that sprang up last year to help owners stick to social distancing rules can become permanent summer fixtures of the capital, city hall announced on Monday.

Paris' extended café terraces can become permanent, city hall rules
Many Paris cafés have expanded their outdoor areas into streets or parking spaces. Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP

But they will have to shut down by 10pm so that residents won’t be kept awake by boisterous crowds, a problem that has exasperated neighbourhood groups.

The city turned over thousands of parking spaces last year to beleaguered restaurant and café owners who were no longer allowed to serve indoors as the pandemic raged.

Paris city authorities ruled that the terraces could stay in place this summer, prompting many café or bar owners to invest in more permanent structures that the often ramshackle extensions that sprang up in 2020.

But they have now decided that the extended spaces can become permanent summer features of the city – under certain conditions.

Terraces will have to remain without closed walls or roofs, but plants and other greenery will be encouraged, with an annual contest for the most attractive designs.

“Roofs, tarps, reception tents, wooden pallets and advertising will be prohibited,” the deputy mayor in charge of commerce, Olivia Polski, told AFP.

The terrasses éphémères (temporary terraces) will now be known as terrasses estival (summer terraces) and can return in the summers to come when -hopefully – the pandemic will be over.

Business owners will be charged a fee by City Hall for their temporary terraces, but this year that will be waived until September 30th, Franck Delvaux, president of the hospitality industry union, told France Info.

He said: “There was a need to regulate them. If we wanted to make them permanent so that they would become summer terraces, at some point we needed regulation so that there would be equality of rules.

“From now on, they will have to be paid for. But here too, we have made a lot of progress in our negotiations in securing an exemption until September 30th, which will allow the profession to work all summer with free fees.”

Outdoor seating can also be extended on adjacent squares and sidewalks, and also in front of neighbouring businesses if they give approval.

No heating or music systems will be allowed, and Polski said the city would step up deployments of specially developed “Meduse” microphones for pinpointing the sources of noise pollution across the city.

France’s cafés, bars and restaurants reopened on May 19th after a six-month closure. Initially they were only allowed to serve outdoors, but from Wednesday indoor areas will be allowed to reopen, while the curfew is moved back to 11pm.

READ ALSO Travel, bars and curfew – what changes in France on Wednesday

Delvaux added: “Today, when you walk around Paris, the terraces are full. It’s really l’art de vivre (the art of living).

“It’s what brings tourists to Paris.”