Wouldn’t it be nice to have the month of August off work? Well, if you lived in Paris that is exactly what you would have.
In August the locals gather up the kiddies and head down to the beautiful beaches of Southern France. Nice, The French Riviera, Cannes. Once there they will stay for a month or two? I don’t know about you, but I worked for one company for 13 long years and never got 2 months vacation. The French don’t feel guilty either. By law, the they are guaranteed at least FIVE weeks of vacation. They also get a dozen or so holidays, work a 35 hour work week and no paid overtime is allowed. The shortened work week alone, adds up to an additional 22 days a year! So, no matter what your boss tries to tell you, if you work in America….you are working way too too many hours!
But back to my point. During the month of August (also known as vacation month) when the French pack up for their vacation, they don’t bother to leave anyone behind to run their businesses. That’s right. While the French are on holiday, many, many of the shops, restaurants and stores are locked up tight. (look for closed window shutters as a sign of a closed business) Many of the French who don't leave Paris, close shop anyway (sort of sympathy closing)Those businesses that remain open will usually have skeleton crews. Picture if your local Safeway grocery store was closed for a solid month and a half!
The fact that it is miserably hot and humid in Paris during the month of August is probably partially the reason. (remember there is very little air conditioning in Paris) The other BIG reason is -- it's been done this way forever. You know how the French are -- tied to tradition.
So, if you plan to visit Paris in August, be prepared. As a matter of fact, it has been said that in the month of August, tourists out number Parisians. If you are going to Paris to be a part of the daily Parisian lifestyle, you will be sadly disappointed. The city will look like a ghost town.
On the other hand, you can look on the bright side. Many of the major tourist attractions will be open. Rates for hotels and apartments is discounted during August (as it is quite expensive to stay in Paris - this in itself might be reason enough to make the trip). Open restaurants will be less crowded. You will run into more people speaking english. It will be a whole lot quieter on the streets and you can probably even get a seat on the Metro.
Click here for a list of restaurants and bars open in August 2011
Thank goodness for the little things!