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

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
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.

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.

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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.

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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.”

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