Decorating Ideas for Bistro Tables

Written by isabel prontes
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Decorating Ideas for Bistro Tables
Bistros are common on the streets of Paris. (Buena Vista Images/Photodisc/Getty Images)

The word "bistro" is a term that is commonly used to describe a Parisian-style small and laid-back eatery. Bistros generally offer affordable and casual meals, such as croque-monsieur sandwiches, omelettes, grilled salmon and potato and leek soup. For those who are looking to decorate quintessentially French bistro tables, several ideas are available.

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Pub Tables

Classic pub or bistro tables are ideal for recreating the ambience of an authentic Parisian bistro. The tables should be between 35 and 36 inches in length. For pub tables, wooden tops can provide a laid-back and relaxed feel. As for chairs, bistros often utilise high counter stools that are between 24 and 26 inches in length. These high tables and chairs work well in smaller and often crowded dining spaces, including bustling bistro restaurants.


One of the major components for properly decorating a bistro table is the tablecloth. For a vibrant, lively Parisian feel, classic red checkered tablecloths should easily do the trick. However, many other suitable choices are available, including solid, tiled, threaded, pin dotted, marble checked, striped and plaid tablecloths. For an old time feel, tablecloths that are made out of antique advertisements can also be helpful, preferably if ads in the French language are available. Since bistros tend to get a lot of traffic, durable and tough materials like vinyl are preferable for the tablecloths.


Flatware is a necessity for any dining table but also can add an aesthetically pleasing touch. For decorating a bistro table, it is helpful to seek flatware that has a classic yet modern vibe. Shiny stainless steel is useful for everyday use at a bistro; however, for a more elegant look, satin finishes can go a long way. To achieve a sleek French flair, flatware with paddle-shaped handles is recommended. Look for spoon bowls that are particularly oversized and round.


Candles often are the ideal finishing touch for decorating a traditional bistro table. Lightly fragrant candles are advisable, although it is important that the scent is not too strong as to overpower the food that is served at the bistro. Seek candles that are inside of classic containers, including glass tumblers and tins with transparent lids. Some suitable fragrance ideas for bistros include black cassis, lavender, pine, cloves, cherry blossoms, green apples, sandalwood, French tulips, citrus, gardenias, nutmeg and hyacinths.

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