So Friday marked the start of the French vacation period. It seems that everyone in France takes their vacations during the month of August resulting in many businesses closing down for the month. At my office we had a sort of celebration including music and champagne and I have to say it felt as though I was back in elementary school (with the exception of the champagne) having our end of the year party before summer vacation. Everyone discussing their vacation plans followed by a “goodbye, see you in two-three weeks.” A few of us, lowly interns and top people who took their vacations in July, will be around for the month of august but more than half our office will be gone. I must say I’m quite curious to see how this is going to play out.
I also hear Paris will be empty with the exception of tourists. So now as a result of vacation season, the city that this country revolves around (don’t even get me started on that) will now be empty or nearly empty for an entire month thus the entire country is basically shutting down for a month. It just amazes me that an entire country decides to take its vacation at the same time. In a world of global business, is this really a good idea?
On top of all this I find myself wondering “where are they all going on their vacations?” From speaking with many French people to reading their test answers (part of my job) it seems to me that they rarely leave their country. For just within my first few trips after arriving here in telling my friends at school where I had gone they said “wow you’ve visited more than I have.” That was after having only visited one or two other European countries. In asking where they had gone, most said they hadn’t left France yet. This just continues to amaze me since you can get to Spain within 8 hours, England in 3 hours, Belgium in 1.5 hours, Germany in 3-4 hours, Italy within 6 hours, Switzerland within 4 hours, Netherlands in 4 hours, and Luxembourg in 4 hours. All this is of course simply by train and times can be even shorter (or longer) depending on where in France you’re coming from. Let us not forget to mention to that Europe has a great network of low cost airlines that put our “low cost” airlines to shame. So why does this country place so much emphasis on vacation time and devote a whole month to it yet they don’t actually take the time to see other parts of the world let alone their own continent?
France has yet again managed to perplex me.