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'Everyone to the Bar': Defiant Parisians Return to Grieving Capital's Restaurants and Cafés

Bar and restaurant owners urged Parisians to go out for drinks and dinner to celebrate the spirit of defiance and to commemorate those who lost their lives in the attacks.

by VICE News
Nov 18 2015, 6:50pm

Image via Le Fooding

Addressing France's mayors in Paris today, just five days after terror attacks in the French capital claimed 129 lives and wounded hundreds of others, President François Hollande called for the nation "to always stay true to herself."

"What would our country be without its café terraces, its museums, its concerts?" he asked.

Gunmen went on a shooting rampage in the 10th and 11th Arrondissements last Friday, killing people as they dined and enjoyed drinks at sites that included like the family-owned Cambodian restaurant Le Petit Cambodge, the Italian establishment Casa Nostra, and a popular bar called La Belle Équipe.

In the wake of the assault, an effort to return to normal routines and defy terrorism has become something of a rallying campaign for Paris and the rest of the country, injecting new meaning into the capital's Latin motto, "Fluctuat nec mergitur" ("Tossed by the waves but not sunk").

Earlier this week, a group of anonymous French restaurant and bar owners launched the social media hashtag #TousAuBistrot (#EveryoneToTheBar) — a campaign to encourage people to go out and patronize their neighborhood eateries and watering holes on Tuesday.

The message was relayed on Sunday by France's National Union of Hotel, Restaurant, Cafe, and Catering Professionals (known as SYNHORCAT) and by the French restaurant guide Le Fooding, which described the event as an opportunity to pay tribute to the victims and support local restaurant and bar owners. The publication said many establishments would observe a minute of silence for the victims at 9pm.

The logo for the event is French illustrator Jean Julien's ubiquitous Peace for Paris drawing, which was adapted into a plate with a knife and fork for the occasion.

"It's about going to your local bistro, to go out again, go to a place where you can have a beer, some peanuts, a plate of sausages, anything," Alexandre Cammas, founder Le Fooding, told the New York Times.

Speaking to French daily Le Monde on Monday, SYNHORCAT President Didier Chenet noted a 60 percent drop in the usual Saturday restaurant and bar crowd the day following the attacks. "Things took off again Sunday, reaching around two thirds of a regular day," Chenet added.

Reporting from the 11th Arrondissement on Tuesday, French public broadcaster Francetv Info described café terraces "filling up" with patrons.

Parisians have also been sharing photos using #occupyterrasse and #jesuisenterrasse (#iamontheterrasse) — echoing the #JeSuisCharlie logo that emerged after the January terror attacks — eager to turn their regular socializing on the capital's trademark sidewalk cafés into an act of collective defiance.

"If going out for drinks and attending shows or games is now considered fighting, then tremble, terrorists! Because we are HIGHLY TRAINED!"

Meanwhile, French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, whose editorial team was decimated by extremists in January, sent out a similar message with its latest cover. The cartoon depicts a man ridden with bullet holes continuing to drink champagne from a flute under the words, "They have weapons... Fuck'em, we have the champagne!"