If you have ever visited Paris in August you may have noticed something surprising: where are all the locals?
Well, they’re off enjoying the hot French summer, away from the stickiness of the city. But come the end of August, they all come flooding back. Ready to return to work, school, and normal life.
The end of the summer holidays in France is marked by a tradition known as ‘la rentrée.’ Although similar to the English’s ‘back to school’, the French equivalent means a lot more than a return to school in September.
Marking a return to the office for workers, and the return of French parliament following a summer break, ‘la rentrée’ is an important element to the annual rhythm of French life.
More than the end of summer holidays, this period is a chance for the French to get back into the groove of everyday life, and a chance to catch up with loved ones and coworkers.
Visiting Paris at this time of year, you are sure to hear local bakers and butchers greeting their customers enthusiastically with a friendly: “Vive la rentrée!”, as you pass neighbours chatting happily.
This uniquely French tradition can be traced back to Pope Gregory IX who introduced the concept of a summer holiday in 1231. He decided to close universities for a month to limit absences caused by students who went to help their parents during the summer harvest.
The end of the summer holidays doesn’t have to be a commiseration. So follow the French and take the chance to celebrate a fresh start to the year.
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