When I came back to Paris in June, it was very, very chilly, kind of gray and rained a lot. And it looked like we were going to miss Spring entirely. Sometimes that happens here, and you can have a cold June, or even July. But then, overnight, literally, the warm weather hit. We went from wearing a coat in the daytime one day, to sweltering the next. And it is hot!!! In early July, it was in the 90’s and had been for days. And people don’t have air conditioning in their homes here the way they do in the states (buildings are old, windows don’t lend themselves to air conditioners), and it is HOOOOOOTTTTTT!!! I kind of like it, although by the end of the day, I feel as though I’m melting.
The tourists line up at the Eiffel Tower, and walk along the Champs Elysees, eating ice cream, sitting in cafes, and probably swarming through the Louvre, and at Euro Disney. French tourists from the provinces crowd Paris too. The government orders all stores to have sales twice a year, in June and July, for an entire month. Prices are usually cut by about 50%, sometimes 70%, so people come from all over France to check out the Paris shops and get a bargain. As a result, there is a ton of traffic and you can hardly move in the city. But there are some great deals to be had, and the tourists love them too!!! So Paris is chock a block in summer.
There are wonderful things to do, walks in the parks and the Bois de Boulogne, sit at an outdoor cafe, wander through the streets of Paris by day or night. The bicycles you can rent at stands everywhere, called Velibres, allow people to get around the city in an easy way, and not by car. It is an irresistible city, at any time of year, in any weather, and the beauty of it shines in the good weather. I spend most of my time seeing friends, but I am always aware of and in love with the beauty of the city. And there are lots of exotic visitors here this time of year. I still go to the auctions I love, but at this time of year, they are slowing down. My favorite auction house closes for two months in late July. And the entire country is starting to go on vacation.
In France, it is the law that everyone gets at least 5 weeks of vacation a year. And it’s usually not spread out throughout the year. People either take July off, or August. So by mid July, the whole country pretty much shuts down. Factories are closed, businesses, industries, and in August most restaurants and stores in Paris are closed too. The city is empty in August. And in some ways, the July or August vacations give the country kind of a holiday atmosphere, because everyone is going on vacation somewhere, even if only to visit their families in the hinterlands of France, or more exciting locations. And it’s great having a whole month off. The whole country is off playing somewhere. It makes it hard to get things done in July and August, but everyone here expects it, so they plan around it.
Favorite vacation spots in summer for the French are the South of France, which is mostly beach towns, and jammed in summer. Famous St. Tropez, Cannes, Nice, Antibes, the fancier St. Jean Cap Ferrat. Deauville is also a popular beach town, in Normandy. People also love going to Brittany (Bretagne), where people do a lot of sailing, it’s more rugged, and the weather is cooler (a little like Maine). And then there are the interior spots like Provence, famous for its wonderful food and herbs.
It’s great to be here in the summer…..and in a little while, I am going to take a peek at the sales. It’s hard to resist a bargain, especially at half price, in Paris!!! I hope you’re having a good summer too.