PARIS (Reuters) – A string of private car-share operators are revving up business in Paris as the pioneering city-run Autolib scheme comes to an end and city authorities promote car sharing over private ownership.
Last month, Paris ended the Bollore Group’s contract to operate its Autolib electric vehicles due to financial difficulties at the state-funded scheme. Its nearly 4,000 cars are set to disappear from Paris roads at the end of July.
“We will reestablish a car sharing offer from September and we will have more cars than we had before with Autolib. Paris will remain a pioneer in shared mobility,” Paris transport chief and deputy mayor Christophe Najdovski told reporters.
At a mobility event where car, scooter and bicycle share operators demonstrated their services in front of city hall, car sharing scheme operators said they planned to expand their operations, but that growth would largely depend on how many dedicated parking spaces the city makes available.
U.S. car-sharing group Zipcar, owned by car rental group Avis, has been active in Paris for five years and plans to grow its fleet from 100 cars today to 150 in September and about 200 by year-end [ . . . ]
Alain Fontaine leans on the bar at his central Paris bistro, Le Mesturet, dodging trays as waiters weave around him to deliver lunchtime service. “A bistro isn’t just some place for a quick bite to eat,” he says, turning to avoid a glass of red wine colliding with his white chef’s coat. “It’s the home of the Parisian art de vivre—that’s what we’re losing if these places die out: our way of life.
”A distinctive kind of bar-cum-eatery, the bistro offers more substantial meals than a café, but in a more relaxed setting than a restaurant. In some parts of town, they seem to be everywhere, the small zinc-topped tables of their terraces spilling onto street corners. But they’re rapidly disappearing. From 2014 to 2018, nearly a quarter of Paris bistros—at least 300 of them—closed, according to France’s National Statistics Office.
That’s why Fontaine, 60, who worked in bistros all his life before opening Le Mesturet in 2003, is leading about 30 fellow owners in a campaign this year. They want UNESCO, the U.N.’s culture agency, to give bistros and terraces “intangible cultural heritage” status. In September, they will hand their proposal to France’s Minister for Culture, who will then decide whether or not to recommend it to UNESCO. The status would raise awareness and give owners an opportunity for promotion, as well as a way to justify future planning protection from the city council. They might also be able to access some funds: every two years UNESCO hands out cash from a shared pot to put toward practices or events with the classification [ . . . ]
It’s lunchtime at a busy neighbourhood bistro in Paris’ 11th arrondissement. A pair of young male servers are gliding through the restaurant, juggling plates groaning with roast chicken and frites, duck confit and beef tartare, and sliding them across the tables to their customers in swift but graceful movements.Sitting in the corner of the bar, a lone man has ordered a cheese plate, a green salad and a glass of red wine, and is consumed by his newspaper. It’s not long before a tall, middle-aged man enters the restaurant, calls out ‘Georges’, shakes his hand with a hearty one-two pump and takes the seat next to him. It’s immediately apparent that Georges’ friend is the kind of bar fixture who has the gift of banter.
The bistro bar is a place of exchange, of conversation, a way of life
“When are you going to take my order?” he teases the bartender in an accusatory tone.
“Huh la la la la,” she replies, her four “las” uttered in quick succession. “Always the same. You haven’t changed.”
She would know. Marie-Claude Lainey has been serving Serge Jovanovic his lunch for the last 15 years.
Jovanovic and Georges Cano have also been eating their lunches together over the last 15 years. In the same bistro. At the same time. Nearly every day.