The Guardian, here, has a sad tale of French bistros closing at an incredible rate - down from 200,000 in the sixties to 35,000 now, and sinking fast. One poor owner has even sent out an appeal for funds to keep his establishment open.
Bistros and pubs have been hit by the same problem - overheads and stealth taxes. Our local pub pays rent of £1500 per week to the brewer, who controls all of his supplies and makes him pay over the odds for all types of drink. Staff costs are boosted by 12.8 per cent social security payments. So, going there means you pay three times the price you would if you opened a bottle, and nearly ten times the price if you made some pasta at home.
Bistros have always been expensive, and have to comply with France's even higher employment taxes. A decent coffee costs 3 euros or more - again, ten times the price. The successful ones, in Lille, for example, serve good food that is quick to cook and profitable. Vive le steak-frites. The others are just too expensive. It was ever thus - when I was a student, a coke in the local cafe cost 3F50, and perhaps 50c outside it.
In the end, people won't pay tax if they can avoid it. Governments and, in the uk, greedy landlords, have killed the goose.