Following an investigation by France Boisson-Gira, it appears that the number of cafés in the Cote d'Or department is falling. With an 18% drop in the last three years the days of sitting with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine outside a café watching the world go by could be a thing of the past.
For decades, cafés have been the meeting places for people of all ages. The elderly men discussing their youth and playing their games of cards. Business people talking loudly into mobile phones eager to 'clinch that deal.' The young laughing and joking over fashion, films and friends. Cafés have also been a place for people to wind down after a working day.
What does 18% mean in real terms? In 2003, the Cote d'Or had 257 café/bars but by 2006, the number had fallen to 209 putting the department 2nd behind the Haute Seine who has lost 23% of their café/bars.
However, why are cafés closing down? Some of the blame has been put down to a tougher stance on drink driving, which has seen a 40% drop in sales, people is not stopping at bars after work.
Hardest hit have been rural cafés due to a problem in financing from banks for sales of cafés. Banks offer loans over five years for cafés while other establishments are offered loans over fifteen years. This makes it difficult for young people to purchase an enterprise.
The ban on smoking is also causing anxiety amongst café owners and the future, it seems, lies in diversity. The old-fashioned café/bar hardly exists any longer; in the rural areas, they are incorporated in grocers, bakers or tabacs. In the town they are becoming 'theme bars' where people meet for discussions and wine tasting in an effort to rejuvenate the café culture, so much loved by tourists.
The IDCCB, the institute which oversees cafés and café/bars are keen to set up a charter to improve the standards and quality of establishments to draw back the customers.
- by Coral Luke
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