August is a peculiar time in Paris. On the first of the month there seems to be a mass exodus from the city. The tables on the cafe terraces that were once full all day long, are now left untouched. The streets usually busy with Vespas and pedestrians are calm and empty. In some arrondissements it seems only the local pigeons are left to look after the place. It’s no mystery though as to where all the Parisians go. Anyone on a highway headed south or towards a beach will find many of them stuck in traffic jams in route to their annual month long holiday, les grandes vacances!
In the weeks prior to les grandes vacances, things in the city really slow down. Productivity levels drop, people stop answering the phone, and the annual closure notifications go up in the windows of shops. There is one topic of conversation amongst Parisians and that is “Where are you taking your vacation this year?” as they size each other up feeling a bit smug anticipating who will have the better holiday.
In France, six weeks of vacation a year is practically a birth right, and one that I would argue does the population a world of good. In September, Parisians return tanned, refreshed, and eager to get back to school and work. But for those of us who stay behind in Paris during the month of August, we typically don’t complain. In fact, it’s one of our best kept secrets that many of us actually prefer Paris in August. Once we’ve managed to get over our favorite restaurants being closed and most of our friends missing in action, we see it as an opportunity to enjoy the city with fewer crowds. Not to mention, the Mairie, or local government, makes sure we have plenty of seasonal activities springing up to keep us busy!
So that is precisely what I’ve decided to share with you during the month of August on Paris Rendez-vous, all the spectacular things to do in the city in August that can in fact only be enjoyed this time of year. Stay tuned and you’ll find, despite the many closures, there is plenty to do in Paris during les grandes vacances to delight locals and visitors alike…