Monday, August 25, 2008

Summer Vacation Ends

It's the fourth and last week of August, and Parisians are starting to return from their summer holidays. The traffic is already much worse than it was just 48 hours ago.

Once upon a time, Parisians all took their summer vacations outside the city at almost exactly the same time and for exactly the same duration. The city became a ghost town, with most businesses closed for the entire month of August. Fortunately, those days are gone. There are still many Parisians who go out of town on vacation in August, but they've learned to stagger their holidays a bit more, with some taking off in July and others in September, so the city is not completely deserted at any time these days. Some small businesses still close for an extended period in August, but larger businesses stay open, and the city continues to move.

There is less smog during the summer vacation season. And much less traffic, of course. One sees fewer Parisians out and about, and most of the people walking around outside in the city are tourists. The quietest period seems to be from mid-July to mid-August. So today, on August 25, lots of people are returning to the City of Light to resume their everyday working lives.

I don't take vacations out of town. For one thing, I cannot afford to stop working, even briefly, despite the fact that I'm theoretically entitled to six weeks of paid vacation (the legal minimum). Besides, I moved to Paris because I like Paris, and it's easier and cheaper to live here than it is to visit here. Now that I'm here, I'm always at my vacation destination, so why go anywhere else? Even at times when I have been able to afford to take off work, I've still remained in Paris during vacation.

The past few days have been mercifully cool, which puts me in a good mood. It is forecast to return to another heat wave tomorrow, however.

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