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UNDERSTANDING THE FRENCH

The 8 signs that August has arrived in France

Summer holidays are popular the world over, of course, but France takes the tradition of les grandes vacances particularly seriously. Here's what to expect now that August has arrived.

The 8 signs that August has arrived in France
Photo: Sebastian Bozon/AFP

1. Cities are largely deserted

If you’re in a city, especially in Paris, prepare for it to feel strangely empty outside of the obvious tourist destinations.

This is because all sensible French people have packed up and gone to the beach or the countryside for a month. Next year, you will know to do the same.

READ ALSO 7 reasons to stay in Paris in August

2. But beaches are packed

France was a nation of staycationers even before the pandemic, and in August French people flee to the countryside or the beach.

Expect resorts to be packed and hotels, Airbnbs and campsites to be fully booked, especially as international tourists return after two years of travel restrictions.

 

3. Shops have cheery ‘back in September’ signs

Shop workers and owners take time off like everyone else and it’s very common for small independent businesses like boulangeries, pharmacies and florists to close up for a month.

Some will tell you when they expect to reopen, others just put up a cardboard sign saying fermé jusqu’à la rentrée – closed until September. 

 
 
 

4. Everyone you email is out of the office

Likewise office workers are also usually on holiday and a great many offices close altogether for three or four weeks.

Forget about out-of-office email replies suggesting an alternative contact or that the person will be checking their email sporadically – they will be on the beach and whatever you want can wait until they are back.

This also applies to any kind of government bureaucracy.

 
 
 
 

5. Brumisateurs are everywhere

Obviously the summer means that it is (usually) hot, and most municipalities in France have their own hot weather plans.

These can involve extra water fountains, dedicated cool rooms for the elderly or the delightful brumisateurs (misters) which spray out clouds of cool water vapour for you to walk through if you are getting overheated.

Likewise fountains are regarded as legitimate places to cool down on a hot day.

Cool off with a water mister. Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP
 

6. No Metro lines are running

Many city authorities take the opportunity of a quiet month to do vital repair or improvement works on their public transport networks and this is particularly pronounced in Paris where you can expect at least half of the Metro lines to have some sort of temporary closure in August as work goes on (so yes, there is one group who work in August). 

7. Every road has a traffic warning

Bison futé, the nation’s traffic forecaster, gets good use of its red pen in August as most weekends there are red traffic warnings on dozens of roads as people head off on holiday or return from holiday.

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The one to avoid at all costs is the weekend closest to the end of July and the beginning of August, when the juilletistes (July holidaymakers) return at the same time as the aoûtiens (August holidaymakers) set off.

The final weekend of August, when people head home in time for la rentrée (the return to school and work in September) is also best avoided.

8. Supermarkets are full of stationery

Looking ahead to la rentrée, supermarkets begin stocking up their stationery aisles so that parents can buy the 29 items of stationery that are apparently necessary for every child attending a French school.

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LIVING IN FRANCE

Energy bills, remote working and ‘coup’ phrases: 6 essential articles for life in France

What you can expect from your energy bills in France in 2023, how serious winter blackout warnings actually are, remote working in France and a word with multiple meanings - here are six essential articles for life in France.

Energy bills, remote working and 'coup' phrases: 6 essential articles for life in France

France’s freeze on gas prices comes to an end at the end of 2022, while the four percent cap on electricity price rises also expires – however the government has now announced the price caps for 2023.

We’ve done sole calculations and figured out what the new price rates will mean for your monthly energy bills.

EXPLAINED: What your French energy bills will look like in 2023

Now, we don’t want to put a downer on your day, but blackouts are a distant possibility in the months ahead.

RTE – the independent, electricity system operator of France – has laid out what a worst-case scenario might actually entail, and what would need to happen before we reach that point.

Revealed: The worst-case scenario for blackouts this winter in France

More possible bad news, we’re afraid. Travellers planning a trip between France and the UK in 2023 are likely to face ‘massive disruption’ caused by a combination of the EU’s new digital visa system and the UK government’s unwillingness to work in a constructive manner with French or EU leaders, a former British ambassador to France has warned.

Fears of ‘massive disruption’ of travel between France and UK in 2023

Modern technology means that many jobs can be done from anywhere in the world with only a laptop and a decent wifi connection – but what are the rules if you are working remotely in France for a company back in your home country?

Because this is a relatively recent phenomenon, it’s not always easy to find information on this – so from immigration paperwork to taxes, here’s what you need to know.

Working remotely from France: What are the rules for foreigners?

Let’s set about improving the mood. Are you looking for something to do now the nights are drawing in? Summer may be over, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do in France – here’s our pick of the festivals and events around the country in September, October and November.

Fall festivals: What’s on around France in autumn 2022

French is a difficult language to pick up. We know. Understanding is not helped by the fact, for example, that there is one four-letter word that pops up repeatedly, in a bewildering array of different meanings. So, here’s our definitive guide to getting to grips with ‘coup’.

Love to luck – 21 different ways the French use the word ‘coup’

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