27 Apr 2018 / 12:04

Les Petites Cantines from Lyon seize France: the neighbourhood canteens in the fight against big city isolation

The project first started in Lyon, with a view to overcome cultural barriers in the big cities. In this way, the neighbourhood canteens began to multiply. Here's the story of Les Petit Cantines.

Les Petites Cantines from Lyon seize France: the neighbourhood canteens in the fight against big city isolation

The project first started in Lyon, with a view to overcome cultural barriers in the big cities. In this way, the neighbourhood canteens began to multiply. Here's the story of Les Petit Cantines.

 

Les Petites Cantines

The first “cantina” opened in the fall of 2016 in Lyon, in the ninth arrondissement. This is a popular district where participation in a shared project is the solution to isolation––big city daily life hardly ever acknowledges our next-door neighbour. The non-profit project Les Petites Cantines, on the other hand, moves in the opposite direction, proposing the sharing of a meal––prepared and eaten together––as an opportunity to create a bond of proximity.

From Vaise district to Paul Santy

After about 8 months, the first "little cantina" in the Vaise district registered over 3,000 participants, 500 of whom were actively involved in preparing meals in the large open-plan kitchen. The venue was open for lunch and dinner, every day of the week. Two years later, spaces in the city are about to double: in April, another small cantina opened in the Paul Santy neighbourhood. By 2018 the initiative will also land in the Gerland district in Lyon, and in Lille.

Future projects

For the Dijon debut organisers are still looking for a space that can accommodate at least 50 people, plus supply cooking equipment. There are many requests coming from all over France to export the idea, which is the result of the partnership between Diane Dupre La Tour and Etienne Thouvenot. The scalability of the project, which this year will have a budget of 500 thousand euros, is made possible by the interest of important financial backers, who are starting to understand the potential of the system, as well as donations from associations operating in the social sector. The model seems to work, and by the year 2020 the petites cantinas could multiply throughout France, with the concrete intention to also land in Nantes and Paris.

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