Nothing says ‘summer’ and ‘socialising’ better than a good old bistro set in your garden, where you can sit down and relax with a glass of wine and have a good old natter with a friend. Or, enjoy some important ‘me’ time with a good book. Whatever you like to use your bistro set for, there’s no doubt that our love affair with bistro sets are set to continue.
There are a number of reasons why we love bistro sets so much; they are timeless, as fashionable today as they were one hundred years ago; they are stylish, coming in variety of vibrant styles and colours, giving your garden, patio or balcony, an authentic cosmopolitan look; they are historic, having been around for hundreds of years and depicted in well-known paintings by artists such as Van Gogh, Renoir and Manet. It is no wonder the mere sight of a bistro table conjures up images of cafes in the old streets of Paris, the smells and sounds of great food and good company. Just talking about it makes you want to travel back in time!
So, how did this love affair come about? Well to really get to the bottom of this, we need to look at the history of bistro sets and believe me there is quite a history behind them!
The history of bistro sets
Perhaps unsurprisingly, bistros began in France, with the first bistro opening in Paris in the late 1686. This bistro – the Café Procope, is in fact still going strong. In the 1800s bistros (or cafés as they were known at the time) began to place their tables and chairs outside allowing their customers to enjoy the midday sun and watch the sights of the city. This caught on incredibly fast and it wasn’t long until every café in town was following suit.
In the late 1800s, the industrial revolution paved the way for the appearance of forged iron tables and chairs. Which became the classic bistro set style, still very popular today.
Types of Bistro Sets
Traditionally bistro tables consist of a forged iron base with a marble, wood or stone table top, often decorated in vibrant colours. The chairs, again, were traditionally made from forged iron and could fold away, allowing the owner of the café or diner to clear the terrace quickly and easily. These days, forged iron is still popular and so are the folding bistro chairs, but there are now many different styles of bistro sets available, made from a variety of materials.
Cast Iron or Cast Aluminium Bistro Sets
If you want a traditional style bistro set for your garden, patio or balcony, cast iron or cast aluminium is a good choice. Cast iron is the more traditional option, is heavier than aluminium, but is also more prone to rust over time. Cast aluminium sets can look almost exactly the same as its iron counterpart but is lighter (easier to move!) and requires less maintenance. Some fantastic styles are available in both cast iron and aluminium, particularly if you are after that old-style Parisian or Victorian feel.
Wooden Bistro Sets
If you like natural style that wood offers, a wooden bistro set may be just for you. Although not as traditional as metal bistro sets, wood can harmonise with your outdoor space in a way that no other material can. Just be prepared, wooden garden furniture does require extra maintenance to keep it looking good as new. On the plus side, wooden furniture can also be sanded and painted or varnished in whatever style you want, so even an old wooden bistro set can be given a new lease of life.
Rattan Bistro Sets
If you like to move with the times a rattan bistro set could be just what the doctor ordered. Rattan offers style, durability and comfort and can give your outdoor space a modern style that no other material can achieve. Rattan garden furniture has become extremely popular in recent years, and rattan bistro sets are following this trend. What makes rattan so great, apart from being ultra-stylish, is that it is extremely durable and can handle the worst that our British weather can throw at it. It also requires very little maintenance.
So, there you have it, bistro sets have a fantastic history and can be a stylish addition to your garden, patio or balcony. They are an affordable option if you like to relax in outside either in your own company, or with others. And with so many different styles on offer, start hunting for the ideal bistro set for you!