Haute-Garonne: why are guinguettes flourishing?

the essential
With the beautiful days, the terraces unfold in the department. But in the middle of traditional restaurants, the fashion for guinguettes is exploding.

Multicolored garlands, soft music, casual outfits… Over the years, the department has acquired many establishments classified under the “guinguettes” category. Going back to the 19th century, we can find an origin coming from the name of a small inexpensive white wine that was served there. In recent years, with in particular the strong comeback of recycling and vintage, the guinguette has taken on new colors and has established itself massively in the department and the trend does not seem to be falling.

Why such a craze for these ephemeral restaurants often open only in summer? It is already difficult to count precisely the number of establishments of this type in the department, but “the phenomenon is exploding”, slips Olivier Dupuy, president of the bars and breweries branch at the Union des Métiers et des Industries Hôtelières (Umih) of Haute- Garonne. On the site of the department’s tourist office, a tab lists the names of guinguettes installed in Haute-Garonne. On this interface, 33 are listed but not all are indicated. “La Centrale”, “Canaille Club”, “la Friche Gourmande”, “Chez FlonFlon”, “l’Ephémère”… As many names as unique places nestled in the four corners of the department.

outdoor madness

And this is precisely what makes the success of these establishments. “A few years ago, Toulouse residents were looking for summer establishments to have the feeling of being on vacation without leaving, as with “L’envol” or “La voile Blanche” and since the health crisis, customers no longer want to be crowded together, they want to be outside, in the open air. It’s obvious, the indoor restaurants are deserted, ”says Olivier Dupuy, a professional in the sector. Already in 2021, the guinguettes had the wind in their sails but at the start of the summer season, the trend is literally exploding with always more new addresses.

A profitable business

Originally, the guinguette was installed on the edge of the canal or river to dance to the sound of the accordion and toast in the heart of nature. Nowadays, industrial areas, business areas, castles or even deserted places are all spaces taken over by catering professionals to settle there. “Some have establishments in the city center but they have small terraces so they are looking for larger places to accommodate more people, others have felt the desire of customers to be outside”, notes the restaurateur again.

The guinguette is also a bit of a nostalgic symbol of a simple and unpretentious art of living. Simple but above all particularly profitable. Each summer these places brew hundreds of customers for lunch and dinner. “It’s a good thing, it energizes the city, but it is obvious that these seasonal places do not have the same constraints as restaurants open all year round. High leases and rents, the payroll, the purchase of goodwill weigh down the cash flow of traditional restaurants, which is not the case for these summer brands, ”analyzes the president bars brasseries of Umih 31 So some professionals take a dim view of the arrival of these behemoths of tapas and open-air catering. “In summer, those who have a small terrace in the city center suffer a lot from this competition”, notes Olivier Dupuy. But with the number of establishments in the department, there is something for everyone. On track.

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