“You have to be a little nostalgic”: time flies quickly at the Café des Artistes in Perrier (Puy-de-Dôme)

The speed is limited to 50 km/hour in the streets of Perrier. There are many priorities on the right and some speed bumps to force motorists to slow down a little in this transitional village stuck by a long straight line in Issoire. But at the Café des Artistes, we find that the cars are always going too fast.

Or is it the passage of time and the years passing by at full speed, just a stone’s throw from the church? The boss, Philippe Garcia, wonders: “I realized that I had been here for 15 years. So I asked myself: “Will I still be here in 15 years?” »

Philippe Garcia after service.

Lunch service ends. The “boy-restaurant” is getting ready to do the dishes. Without managing to wipe away the nostalgia of the small tables on which he has carefully pasted old posters and old press articles, witnesses of a bygone era. The one where the Café des Artistes hosted singers, storytellers, comedians, cartoonists, artists, signings.

You have to be a little nostalgic… But be careful, I’m not saying that it was better before either. Society changes so we adapt. I just need to remember how it was before.

The 50-year-old took over the business in 2007 with two friends. He has run the discreet brand alone since 2014. Since “Dan left without a return ticket and Cathy flew away to accomplish other projects”.

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In this place that the manager readily qualifies as atypical and unfussy, customers not only come to eat at unbeatable prices calf’s head, shank, Auvergne hotpot, other regional dishes and grandmother’s desserts – “the best” – , homemade.

Good mood and good food

“For years, we have had lunch there almost every week. For good humor and good food. It’s our Thursday recreation, a time when we forget everything, the news, etc. And then like that, we don’t even have dishes to do for lunch?! “says Anne-Marie, having coffee with her husband and a small group of friends.

Who is behind the maintenance and enhancement of the Perrier caves? (July 2019)

Above them, a poster of Clint Eastwood sets the tone for the boss’s humor and the old-fashioned remarks of some customers: “What?! Don’t like the decor? Normal… You’re under 50! And if you’re under 50, you must have shitty taste! »

The owner has decorated the premises in his image.

Issoir retirees say they met in a bistro in the Puydomoise sub-prefecture. “It’s true that we spend a lot of time in bars…”, realizes Christiane, laughing. Anne-Marie adds:

This is important because a lot of places like this tend to close. So we are very happy to see that the Café des Artistes is still holding up!

Still alive, still standing. Philippe remembers a “particular and memorable evening. A group that covered Renaud had come to play. A passing painter had painted during the concert. It was spontaneous, with a real complicity between everyone…”

Food and literature to take away

The speakers play the jazz of Lalo Schifrin, but Philippe assures us that he “listens to everything”. Music is like his “fuel”. Literature, its food. The native of Issoire describes himself as a “real sedentary who travels in his books”. Like the dishes, they are also offered for sale to take away. Philippe always thinks of his regulars.

What do we do with the elderly clientele? They’re not going to eat burgers. And then when they come to collect their lunch, they are also looking for a discussion. I spend time listening to the little things of everyday life.

He lives above the restaurant-bistro. “In the morning, I don’t have any problems getting to work in traffic! he smiles. No speed limits, no priorities on the right, no speed bumps. You just have to be wide awake to descend the steep steps of the staircase and hang on, year after year, to keep the soul of your café alive.

A timeless dive in the Perrier caves (August 2021)

Practice. Open every day except Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Catering at lunchtime from Tuesday to Friday. Menu at 12.50 euros. Information on

Marielle Bastide


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