Bonnes vacances à toutes et à tout
I returned to Paris on the 2nd of August after a short trip to Scotland. When I popped out of the Metro at Alésia I thought I had taken a wrong turn; caught the train to ghost town instead of my usual busy little 14e Arrondissement. Cafe Zeyer, closed for refurbishment, set the trend. All along the street shutters were down, cafe chairs and tables stacked in corners, usually busy bar tabacs with handwritten signs hung on closed doors, even our little corner boulangerie had its green blinds drawn and buttoned. August in Paris means Fermeture Annuelle. The time when every small business shuts up shop and goes on holiday for the month of August. How would we survive? What would it be like living in a ghost town? It was easy.
Paris was hot and steamy but I wasn’t complaining. If I wanted crowds I need only go to the Seine in central Paris where a horde of tourists hugged the river bank oblivious to the fact that outside that enclave the city was virtually empty.
In the 14e the Monoprix was open so we wouldn’t starve and the market, although drastically cut, still had one of each type of stall and an abundance of fresh sunflowers for sale.
The biggest problem was finding an open boulangerie. Parisians take their bread very seriously and ever since 1789, when one poor baker was hung for running out of bread, the annual holidays of boulangeries have been regulated by La Préfecture de Police. Parisians should never have to travel more than a couple of streets for their daily bread. The problem was the trial and error of finding one that was open.
There are great advantages of being in Paris in August. Shorter queues at museums, being able to sprint over the busy junction at Porte d’Orléans without having to run the gauntlet of red light blindness, no junk mail, no cold calls and being able to get a seat on the bus.
|Shut for a month|
It is now nearing the end of the month and slowly the shops are cranking up the shutters and sweeping out the summer dust. It feels like the end of summer. Although the streets are again filled with the smell of baking bread, through that I can smell autumn’s rapid approach. The leaves are falling and the sun is falling too. It has been a good August.
Mosquitoes. According to the locals this has been an exceptionally hot summer and the result is more mozzies. Some mornings I would wake with tracks of bites across my shoulders and legs. I tried tea-tree oil mixed with lavender oil, but that proved no deterrent. In the end a new bedtime ritual of swot the mosquitoes was the only solution.