If you are new to France, you might have mistaken today, 19 May 2021, to be a public holiday in France. You might have thought everyone in France is celebrating a national day, perhaps a day named ‘Terrace Day’ or ‘Fête des Terrasses’.
You are not far out. 19 May 2021 is the first day in France when the country starts to relax its sanitary protocol for restaurants, cafes and bars. These establishments have been closed since November 2020, the start of the second national lockdown.
All day long, you can see people flocking to restaurants and cafes that have terraces, flooding the very limited number of tables. If the guests are lucky, they can find a space to enjoy a coffee, a drink or a meal. However, it’s highly likely that many of them have met with disappointment— these tables have been reserved since last week, or even the month before!
Even if you manage to secure a table, you might not be able to enjoy a meal in a comfortable setting. The weather has not been that friendly for the past few weeks. We are having a cold, rainy spell with only a couple of sunny hours per day. Nevertheless, people are enjoying their first day of dining out, especially since they have the right to stay two more hours outdoor. Besides opening the terraces today, the government has also shortened the curfew hours by two hours.
Silviu and I have decided to spend a long weekend in the mountains, in Bozel, Savoie. After a 7-hour drive, we got to the town in time to catch the last two hours before the curfew closes on us. A quick walk around the small own has showed us what we expected.
The few eateries that have outdoor settings are completely full. Despite a pelting rain with a chilly temperature hovering around 10 degree Celsius, crowds are huddling close and making merry with a glass of wine or a mug of beer in one hand. Memories of the the year-long pandemic seems to have temporary been wiped out, until you spot an occasional mask dangling from an ear, or resting carelessly round the chin of a merry-maker.
Not to miss out on the Terrace Day celebration, Silviu and I have decided to endure the elements of weather, after we chanced on a pizzeria with outdoor seating. So, here we are, wrapped up from head to toe, trying to enjoy our food.