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La Belle Vie: Wine sales, spring holidays and strike-proof activities in France

Genevieve Mansfield
Genevieve Mansfield - [email protected]
La Belle Vie: Wine sales, spring holidays and strike-proof activities in France
(Photo by PATRICK HERTZOG / AFP)

From spring wine sales and how to enjoy Paris during strikes to prepping and planning for your next French holiday via French work culture, this week's La Belle Vie newsletter offers you an essential starting point for eating, talking, drinking and living like a French person.

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La Belle Vie is our regular look at the real culture of France – from language to cuisine, manners to films. This newsletter is published weekly and you can receive it directly to your inbox, by going to your newsletter preferences in “My account”.

Contrary to the impression you might have from international headlines - the whole of France is not on fire, and you can still have a nice time visiting.

If you live in France full-time, you know that strikes are common place. That being said, whether you are a local or a visitor, options for activities can be limited during strike days, particularly if the strike in question impacts public transport services (as they tend to).

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The Local has put together a guide that might help give you some inspiration of what to do and see during a strike day in Paris.

9 of the best activities to do in Paris on strike days

And if you are planning a trip to France later this spring or in the summer, there are some places and activities that you should definitely reserve in advance.

For some advance reservations are compulsory, for others it might not be a requirement but you will probably have to wait in a long line, which might not be so enjoyable. I always recommend reserving tickets for Paris museums online beforehand ... and even then you might still find yourself waiting in line for a bit. 

Visiting France: What activities and places do I need to reserve in advance?

On the topic of visits to Paris, I've noticed more people posting on social media with the same question: Is Paris safe to visit?

Amid ongoing protests against pension reform, some companies and governments have advised against travel to Paris. This is a personal decision, and if you are concerned about visiting France during a strike you can read our guide to help make a more informed choice, but outside strike times, people are often curious about safety in Paris.  

The reality of a bustling and noisy capital can come as a shock to some visitors (in fact there's even a name for this 'Paris syndrome' - which refers to the moment that tourists with an overly-romanticised view of the city are confronted with the reality).

It's home to 2.1 million residents and hosts around 10 million tourists a year, so clearly some people like it, but here's what you need to know if you are planning a visit.

Reader question: Is Paris a safe city to visit?

As the French protest raising the minimum age from 62 to 64 - a new study has come out: it found that French workers are among the most fulfilled in Europe, and across the world.

And not only that - the study also found that many French workers were comparatively less unhappy than other countries. France also had the highest number of workers reporting that their working conditions were "optimal".

French workers are ‘the most fulfilled in Europe’, study finds

Among the many cultural differences about the workplace is the fact that office workers in France generally start later and finish later. Dolly Parton's famous lyric "Workin' 9 to 5" would have to be changed to "10 to 7" if it was to be remade in France. 

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On top of that, French work culture prioritises a few other things - like group lunches with the whole office and many meetings throughout the day. 

What you need to know about French working culture

Finally, after you get off work you might be looking forward to a nice glass of wine. In France, there are two times in the year when supermarkets and wine stores put some of their best vintages on sale - in the autumn and in the spring as part of the foire aux vins - a seasonal wine fair.

While foreigners might not have heard of this yearly sale before, the majority of French people take part each year. It is a great time to stock up on your favourite bottles.

Though the foire aux vins has already begun in many stores this spring, there is still plenty of time to study and find the best deals for your own wine preferences. 

Foire aux vins: How to find bargains on high quality wine in France

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