In Paris, ephemeral terraces are becoming a lasting revolution

There is not one like the other. Some come down to three tables and six chairs huddled together on the asphalt. Others are protected by more or less artistic palisades. They are sometimes confined to one end of the sidewalk, or find their ease in several parking spaces. Some are even located in the middle of the road, between cars and bicycles, like rue Lafayette. Bamboos, parasols, even a light roof, are added here and there to the decor. The furniture is just as disparate. The result ? A festival of creativity, some applaud. Aesthetics “Between dump and funfair of ZAD”, curse the others.

In Paris, the terraces opened in the context of the health crisis are being anchored in the long term. In two months, the Town Hall received more than 6,800 requests for cafes and restaurants for permanent installations. The authorizations it is about to give will profoundly transform the urban landscape. A new city is emerging. Parisians worried about nuisances have already taken up the issue. Another sensitive subject for Anne Hidalgo, socialist mayor of the capital but also a candidate for the presidency of the Republic.

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Initially, it was only a transitional measure. A boost given to restaurateurs, in the midst of a health crisis. “In the spring of 2020, we put in place a very simple system, relates Olivia Polski, the sales assistant. A declaration accompanied by ten commitments was enough to extend your terrace or open one. It was a real success for traders as well as for Parisians. “ While the capital had around 12,000 terraces before the Covid-19, the Town Hall then receives an equivalent number of declarations to develop those that existed or create new ones.

The town hall overwhelmed

Everything has changed since the 1er July. Finished, the ultra-flexible device of the declaration. From now on, cafes and restaurants must request a formal green light before creating or extending a terrace, either for seven months of the year, or, for some, all year round. In exchange, the professionals obtained that the authorizations become durable. Their official validity is certainly only one year, but, if the administration does not say anything, they are renewed from one year to the next. No more link is established with the Covid. Suffice to say that the terraces that have sprouted like mushrooms throughout the city and seemed doomed to disappear just as quickly are here for a long time. Ephemeral and eternal at the same time.

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