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Paris bistros seek UN status as cultural gems

Parisians relax on a terrace at Le Reveil

Parisians relax on a terrace at Le Reveil du Xth restaurant in Paris. Photo Credit: AP / Francois Mori

Paris wouldn't be Paris without its bistros and terrace cafes. Now businessmen and chefs want that integral part of the French capital's way of life to be officially recognized as of global value and endangered.

Bistro owners have launched a campaign for their establishments to be named by the United Nations cultural agency as an Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. UNESCO has given that status to traditions as varied as a Mongolian camel-coaxing ritual and the sung prayers of indigenous Peruvians.

A visiting tourist "will find a lively place, a place to share with the people of Paris — the people of Paris of today, not the people of the past," said Le Mesturet owner Alain Fontaine, president of the bistro owners association. The association hopes to see its candidacy examined by UNESCO next year.

Fontaine stressed that the "real Parisian bistro" offers homemade food and accessible prices — like a coffee for 1 euro and the day's special with a glass of wine for 12 euros.

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