The Centre of Midsummer

Bar - Tabac Le Brittany

The Rest is Not Downhill; Only Quieter

by Ric Erickson

Issue 2.33/4:- Metropole Paris - Monday, 18. August 1997:- Today marks the end of 'high summer' in France. This last weekend saw the second and probably largest 'grande rentrée' as all who took the mid-July to mid-August period, returned home.

Those returning to Paris will find the city somewhat empty-seeming. A lot of smaller shops, services and cafés remain closed as they stick to the traditional summer time-table. When summer is over, they roll up their window shutters and resume business.

For larger concerns, both July and August must be busy times because they have to get prepared for the 'rentrée,' the big return to normal. This means having shipped the new lot of school supplies or having put the final touches to the early fall TV commercials.

Families with younger school-age children have a special problem. Most community and recreation centres in the Ile-de-France region which had programs in July after school was finished, are closed in August. This is my case and my solution to it - because I can do it - is to take all of August.

This is what I've been doing and today I look around and see many familiar cars gone and a lot more sand between the islands of people on the beach. It was crowded before but I was used to it like I'm used to riding in the Royal Souvenir shop métro at rush-hour, and now it seems a little lonely - as if the leaves are going to turn brown and fall at any moment.

Since a lot of these 'leaves' are palm fronds, I don't really expect it to happen in the next two weeks, but the feeling is still there.

A small shop in Deauville; more usual of Trouville.

I have been having European holidays now for a long time and it is not easy to remember what it used to be like with the old one or two weeks. As a kid, summer vacations were long; eight to ten weeks, but the 'holiday' part was usually fairly short.

As it was in a seaside town, when I was an older kid it didn't matter if there was any 'holiday' with the parents, because all the essential things were right there - except for the temporary disappearance of friends who couldn't get out of 'going on holiday.'

In Europe, the vast mass of people get four, five or six weeks off every year. In France, this translates into perhaps having a holiday in the mountains in February and another one elsewhere around Easter.

Whole factories and whole industries close for a month, usually in August. This means they stop production and the regular Yachts in Deauville harbor workers go away; but it also means that the plant can be rebuilt, repaired or improved during this time, so there must be a lot of people working on this who get some other time off.

The pleasure port in Deauville, with Trouville in the background.

So the factories are not just sitting there idle. If the renovation wasn't done this way, it would have to be done during regular production and would probably cost more as everybody would have to adjust to work-arounds and uncalculated down-time.

But if you run a corner grocery store or a magazine like Metropole, you can just pull down the shutters and bug off.

Not quite. I have to write this first. I have to fake 'being here' while I am still back there, and still have to pack as soon as I get this finished.

When you read this, I expect to 'be here,' on holidays. Unless, of course, you are 'here' too and not reading this at all.

Now I lost my place and can't figure out where I am. On top of it, there are two places this year and I moved from one to the other on Saturday, but at this moment in time, wherever I am, I can't figure it out.

It means I am supposed to 'be on holidays' I think.

Metropole One Year Ago From This Issue

Issue 1.26 - 19. August 1996 featured the column - Metropole Diary and 'Au Bistro' - Nothing in View on the Horizon. The article in the issue was 'How To Not Be In Spain - Membership at the 'Club Vacances' Not Wanted.' There were two 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week rounded off the issue.

One Year Ago From the Following Week's Issue

Issue 1.27 - 26. August 1996 featured the column - Metropole count-down eiffel Diary and 'Au Bistro' - Summer in France, Right in France. The article in the issue was 'Palmy Days in the Bretagne -Low-Key Three Weeks in August.' There were two 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week rounded off the issue.

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 2000:
Only 866 days left to go.

Regards, Ric
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