Related News

Home » Feature

Gourmets' 'non' to pricey food

CHRISTOPHER Guesnon reckons 3.90 euros (US$5.17) is a small price to pay to keep alive the French joie de vivre, or joy of living, during the economic slump.

That's what he charges for baked chicken with green beans and dessert on the "anti-crisis" menu at his La Cabane restaurant in Saint-Malo, off Brittany's coast in France, seeking to lure clients.

"The French are rather psychologically fragile right now," said Guesnon. "They have less money. They're spending less and being careful with their cash."

Low-cost meals are becoming the order of the day in the gastronomical center of the world as the French brace for what may be the deepest recession since World War II. While jostling for spots on terraces such as Paris' Cafe de Flore - the one-time haunt of Jean-Paul Sartre - is still a national pastime, an undercurrent of despair and anxiety continues.

In February, French President Nicholas Sarkozy said the government would spend 3.3 billion euros more on consumers and low-income households, after unveiling a 26-billion-euro stimulus plan in December. But it's done little to soothe French anger. It's given rise to new discount eateries like Goutu in Paris, which offers sandwiches for 1 euro.

Neighborhood bistros are feeling the pinch. So is Helene Darroze in Paris, which sports two Michelin stars. It's seeking to attract diners with a 25-euro lunch special.

At Maison Blanche, located on Avenue de Montaigne, the chic Parisian fashion boulevard of boutiques such as Dior and Dolce & Gabbana, the restaurant is marking down the menu by 50 percent with its "New Deal" offering.

"We're seeing a trend toward simplified menus," said Claire Cosson, a spokeswoman for the Union of Restaurant and Hotel Owners in France.

"Where there used to be a choice of three or four meals, you now have one entree, one main course and one dessert. The meals have become less sophisticated to better suit customers' budgets."

The economic climate has helped spur sales at supermarkets such as Noz and Discount Plus that sell food items within days of their expiration date at steep discounts.

For Azoua Yakhou, who owns Le Onze bar situated a stone's throw away from Notre Dame on Paris' Left Bank, the change in spending habits at his small watering hole is marked.

"Some customers aren't coming around any more," he said.

"People are just more uptight - they're afraid and consuming for pleasure is over, at least for now." He expects things to get worse before they get better.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend