Bistro Blues

The traditional French cafe is slowly dying out, a victim of le cocooning, le stress and le fast food

The last time I saw Paris

Her heart was warm and gay

I heard the laughter of her heart in

Ev'ry street cafe.

-- OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II

Will the time come when an American songwriter, seeking to capture the essence of France, pens a lyrical ode to Le Burger King or McDonald's? Will the Hemingways, the Sartres and the Picassos of the next century debate ideas while dining out on le hamburger and le Coca-Cola? The scenario is hardly farfetched. For on the street corners of Paris, and in provincial cities from Lille to Lourdes, le fast food is muscling out...

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