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The Village Bistro - Travel + Leisure Magazine

October 16, 2008

Featured in Travel + Leisure Magazine
November 2008 Issue

Want to live—and dine—like a local in southern France? Look no furtherthan the village bistros scattered throughout the region’s countryside. 

The Village Bistro
By: Christopher Petkanas

The village bistro that may or may not also function as a café, grocery store, and bread drop-off is one of rural France’s coziest, most sustaining traditions. Since it is often the only spot to congregate and buy a newspaper in a village, as well as the place’s only business, the bistro acts as switchboard, nerve center, and lifeline. But when it goes the village goes too: the French countryside is crowded with the tombstones of isolated communities whose populaces have bolted to the cities, looking for life. Yet save the bistro and you give villagers a reason to stay. You save the village.

Travelers who hate being led by the nose are crazy about these institutions. Even if they can’t understand the gossip they overhear or the mutterings of the town drunk, they love the atmosphere of a social hub where non-villagers are received alongside the widowed pensioner nursing a pastis and the nonagenarian in carpet slippers shopping for a baguette. Rotary Clubs favor these places for their annual dinners, just as new parents book them for christenings. In the corner, often, is a bunch of guys behind a wall of smoke, playing cards and arguing about de Gaulle. Click here to view the full article.