I went into the dry cleaner across the street the other day to pick up some stuff. We chatted a little; he is a nice guy who likes to sing little ditties as the big wheel turns round and he searches for your clothing. French ditties. His shop's telephone ring is the sound of his grand-baby crying (very odd), which is disturbing and stressful to hear as he rushes around trying to find the phone.
In any case, we got to talking about vacation - a germane topic at the moment in France. Remember, 5 weeks paid leave per year. That is what they get. He was heading to Sainte Maxime, to the South of France (along with the rest of the country). I told him it sounded lovely and as I was leaving, he punctuated my step out the door with, "Remember, we will be closed from tomorrow until the 5th of September."
Seriously? Closed. The month of August. That is impressive vacation taking. And commerce sealing.
It is true that Paris sort of shuts down in August. Most little vendors have hand-written signs staring at you through the glass window announcing their closure during August. Traffic isn't as bad in the city - unless you are talking about tourist traffic. It is a little bit magical - walking down the very residential streets and feeling like this grand city has been deserted. (I hear the chime of Natalia Dobova's "It's quiet...too quiet. The people, where are all the people?" And then I wait for the drone of a Porsche's engine).
On the news last night, there was something that looked a little like a weather report, but was actually a traffic report for vacationers. The announcer used the words, "Juilletistes et Aoutiens" (people who take their vacation in July verses people who take their vacation in August). You see, tomorrow will be the meeting of these two worlds on the French highways. The Juilletistes will be returning to Paris and the Aoutiens will be fleeing. A traffic nightmare will ensue.