“The noise has returned to Paris,” grumbles one Twitter user, joining a chorus of city residents who say the enlarged restaurant terraces that have sprung up since lockdown measures were eased have become a major nuisance.
Pavements, parking spaces and even small streets have been appropriated by Paris cafes, bars and restaurants that were, 10 days ago, finally given permission to reopen for outdoor trade. And it’s been roaring.
While the extended terraces have delighted customers who are enjoying the novelty of being served in unusual spaces, the residents of already-dense neighbourhoods bemoan their loss of public space – and the cacophony that lasts into the night.
The situation is particularly difficult on the narrow and busy rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, in the 11th arrondissement, where residents have formed a collective NGO to demand that “ephemeral”, or temporary, terraces be banned. They say they have video evidence of intolerable noise pollution by cafes and bars, their doors flung open to the street, playing music late into the night with “impunity”.
One resident, Marie, told BFM TV people were made to “slalom” to get from one end of the street to the other. “There are always people; we never get public space to ourselves – we are always ‘in’ one bar or another,” she said.
“At half past two in the morning, there are still people on the street, completely dead drunk, screaming, bawling and breaking things.”
With an absence of police to ensure order, residents say the bars and restaurants have essentially been given carte blanche to behave as they like. The collective filed a case against the Paris Town Hall, which was quickly rejected by the administrative court.
But residents – worried the terraces will become a permanent neighbourhood fixture – say they won’t stop there. Lawyer Aurélie Guillet-Marta, who represents the collective, is calling on the authorities to step up.
“We expect the city hall of Paris to increase its regulation,” she told BFM. “Freely handing public space over to one party – the restaurant traders of Paris – is illegal.”