Monday, September 17, 2012

Dry July... and August -- A cruel cruel summer in Paris.

There's this bizarre thing that French people do every year in July and August.  It's called vacation.  For a MONTH.  The minimum vacation allowance here is 5 weeks.  If you're salaried, since the work week is 35 hours, you get an extra 2 or so weeks.  For those of you who are bad with numbers, that makes 7 weeks of vacation per year... and now you know why were're here.  Many companies close for the entire month of August, so like it or not, you're taking vacation. Which can suck if you'd like to go to any vacation-y type place.  You end up in a crowded, traffic jammed, hot 'paradise' full of Parisians.  We've heard stories about Corsica, one of the beautiful islands we visited back in June.  Didn't seem like something I wanted to do.  Plus, here I was thinking Paris would be so much better without all the Parisians.  Which is partly true.  The only problem is that all our friends who live here are on vacation, and the people who run the bakeries, coffee shops, restaurants, bars and your favorite local store are all out of town.  It's such a phenomenon that there are blog posts about it.

By the way, is an excellent resource for any of you who plan to visit Paris one day.

This being a socialist country, the government realizes that not everyone can afford a month of vacation, so they bring the beach to you.  The banks of the Seine are closed down to cars, tons of sand are hauled in, beach chairs are set up, misting areas are installed, and there are kiosks selling cheap beer wine and snacks. Plus, they have petanque (bocce ball) courts and you can rent the balls for free!  No, really, I'm not kidding. It's pretty cool.  And when the heat wave hits, and it's 97F or hotter for 3 days straight, you really appreciate  spending an evening on the 'beach' when there is no AC at home. They also offer free activities, tai chi classes, dance, entertainment at the city hall.  ...Just in case you weren't convinced by the ample vacation...

Paris Plage

Free Balls

In Nice
We spent about a week of our summer eating with (ermh, I mean hanging out with) the family in the south of France, a few days near Nice visiting a Swedish friend and her lovely family, and the rest trying to entertain ourselves and keep cool in Paris without the usual trips to the cafe and our favorite restaurants.  We saw movies in AC salons at midday, bought an industrial fan, and cooked a lot, or I should say, we ate lots of cheese charcuterie and salad since it was too hot to turn on the stove/oven.  I think maybe next year, we'll spend a little more of the month (and a half) out of Paris...

Two year olds playing ping pong while the rest of us eat-- at the country house with the family.  
Bonus- sparkly Eiffel Tower after we had dinner at a restaurant that was open!  

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