PARIS without cafes? . . . London with fish and chips on the endangered species list? That most un-French of entities, a statistics agency, says that the most Parisian of institutions, the cafe, is slowly sliding down the banks of the Seine.
The cafe isn't quite extinct - 76,000 are still left. Still, in 1970 the City of Light boasted 105,000, where Parisians and tourists sat and talked for hours.
Now in their moments of leisure many Parisians instead visit nightclubs and other mundane establishments. The very thought of Paris without its cafes is as bizarre as . . . London without fish 'n' chips.
Which is what some British fish tradesmen claim could happen as the result of their government's decision to tax restaurants that sell fish 'n' chips, a staple of the British working man. They claim the food will be too expensive, forcing many ''Chippies'' out of business. The government must think otherwise.
But in the former Colonies across the Atlantic even the thought of London without fish 'n' chips is like, well, Paris without cafes.