Where are you this August?
Are you still sweltering out long hours in the office, or on site? Are you preparing for the coming academic term? Maybe this is your time for a well-deserved break?
July to August is known to be a quiet period in England: schools, colleges and universities are out; the UK Parliament is in recess from July to September; and offices slow down as colleagues peel away to retreat from irksome to-do lists.
However, if you think things wind down where you are, you will be intrigued to know about the situation in France. Mid-July to mid-August in France has long been regarded as a quasisacrosanct break. Over the last couple of decades, this viewpoint has become less enshrined, with more flexible workplace arrangements coming into play. Nevertheless, the lull in August is still very apparent now, and more so than in England.
Many people in France choose August as their get-away month. Maybe taking off to the French seaside; or to hometowns to visit family and friends; or to a second home elsewhere in the country, for those able to afford one. 15-20 years ago, many businesses would actually be closed over the August period. Now, this isn’t as common, but notably popular TV programmes still pack up for three months at a go, from June to September, and newspapers become significantly lighter. Some say it becomes harder to book medical appointments, as doctors disappear on August leave.
This ‘August phenomenon’ can bring a variety of pluses, though, not least to Parisians who, for whatever reason, are staying put. The total urban population throughout the Paris Region is reportedly over 10 million; however, the capital thins out over August, turning into an altogether pleasanter place, according to its city-dwellers. It is possible to find places to park and sometimes you don’t even have to pay; all the museums and restaurants are open, but there aren’t the tiresome queues.
In France, the dynamism trend over August, for activities usually in full swing, is perhaps best summed up by this shop sign near Nantes: ‘OUVERT TOUT L’ÉTÉ’: Yes, this is the holiday period, but we are going the extra mile by being open for the duration! You probably wouldn’t spot a sign like this in England.