The economic crisis puts even the most precious of national institutions out of reach for many.
For the third year running, some of the most upmarket French restaurants are adopting a fast-food style offer of “Buy one meal, get one free” to attract customers.
Organisers say the event is not about money.
“This is to show that the restaurant trade is built on hospitality and sharing with the maximum number of people. We give them the opportunity to come to our restaurants for a week. It’s an act of generosity,” said the event’s creator Alain Ducasse, several of whose restaurants have carried three Michelin stars.
Twelve hundred restaurants around France are taking part, including modest bistrots as well as Michelin stars.
The special attraction will be a “restaumobile”: a dining room touring the streets of Paris in a bus.
“It gives us an opportunity to reach some people who are not used to going to the restaurant and spending money on eating out,” said chef Eric Azoug from “Benoit”, one of the participating restaurants.
“It’s a wonderful event that will allow us to discover restaurants that we usually could not afford as the people’s incomes are getting smaller and smaller,” said bistrot customer Pierre Fillaud.
Reservations have opened for this year’s offer of “Two meals for the price of one” that runs from September 17 to 23.
The French “gastronomic meal” was added to UNESCO’s cultural heritage list in 2010.
But few have been able to indulge in waistline expansion when they have been tightening their belts financially.
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