Anyone who has spent time in France is familiar with these words: ‘Fermeture annuelle’ or ‘Congés d’été’. Usually on a scrap of paper stuck behind a closed shop window. Most family-run businesses in France close for an annual month of holidays in July or August, which can leave tourists gasping in astonishment.
The epitome of frustration for me was discovering the August closure of Berthillon, the most famous ice cream place in Paris. When an ice cream vendor closes in the summer, presumably its busiest period, it becomes clear that they are not in it for the money. Or not just for the money. Quality of life and the sacrosanct summer holidays are of at least equal importance.
This takes some getting used to, especially for North Americans. The idea of a shop closing its doors for an entire month is inconceivable to our way of thinking. The loss of business for the owners, the boon for the competition, the complete lack of concern for its customers. None of these things seem to worry the French. The customers will be back in September – meanwhile, the beach beckons.
But, as has been pointed out to me, I have been in France for a very long time. And I’ve discovered that a summer holiday is good for the soul. This year I’ve decided to take a blogging break. I’ll still be around – reading, reblogging and dropping in from time to time, but I’ll give my regular updates a rest for the summer.
In the meantime, let’s hear what you are up to this summer. Ant or grasshopper?