‘A great moment’: French restaurants reopen after Covid-19 lockdown

Diners eat out at a restaurant in Nantes, France, on Tuesday, June 2, 2020.
Diners eat out at a restaurant in Nantes, France, on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. © Reuters / France 24

Diners packed a restaurant in Nantes, France, at midnight Tuesday as it became one of the first to reopen following the easing of lockdown measures that mean restaurants, bars and cafés can welcome customers for the first time in more than two months.


The owners of the Prison du Bouffay restaurant in Nantes decided not wait another minute to get back to work, opening their doors to customers at the stroke of midnight, with around one hundred diners queueing up for a table for their first meal out post-lockdown.

“It’s amazing, we’re living a great moment,” said co-owner Jean-Pierre Le Bot.

“It’s a pleasure to see our customers and to see that they stood by us. At midnight, there’s about one hundred clients that came to eat. It’s a sign of loyalty, it’s heart-warming.”

The reopening of bars and restaurants marks the latest step in France’s easing of lockdown measures, though strict hygiene and social distancing measures remain in place, including tables set at least one metre apart.

In Paris, where the presence of the virus is greater, measures are even stricter with diners only allowed to sit in outdoor terraces, though tables will be permitted to be placed on pavements and parking spots to maximise space.

But despite the restrictions, for restaurant and bar owners in the capital and across the country, any opportunity to return to serving customers and bring in revenue is welcome.

“We’re really happy, I think it is very important for the Parisians, it’s important for us, it’s important for Paris life in general, it brings back a bit of joy to the streets,” said Alexandre Siljegovic, general director of Café de Flore in Paris.

“We’ve had to restrict our terrace, spread it on the sides, keep inside closed but despite this our first clients are happy to see us, we’re happy to see them, so there you go, we feel today is a start of something.”

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