So it’s finally arrived, the moment all the Parisians have been talking about – the month of August. Apparently every year the inhabitants of Paris flee the city en masse and descend upon the regions of France. For those in search of sun and sea they flock south, others just keen for a break from the hustle and bustle of the capital choose to go East or West approaching the boarders and finally those with their roots abroad head home for a month in more Mediterranean, ‘chilled’ environments and even warmer climes.
Businesses shut up shop for two weeks or even a month, including in some cases cafes and restaurants, strangely enough, not desperate to profit from the tourist season! For those of us that are obliged to stay and face August in the office we spend our time struggling with the oppressive heat in the evenings and glacial office air-conditioning in the daytime, which in my case I am convinced that the boss leaves at 10°C so that we are too cold to ‘siesta’ during the long and eerily quiet mid-summer afternoons.
To keep the locals happy, every year (since 2002) the ‘mairie’ of Paris, along with the help of corporate donations imports a beach along the quai of the river Seine. Although a rather frivolous idea, certainly in today’s economic climate and I am unsure as to the environmental effects of displacing that much sand each year, I can’t help but see the benefits to the people of Paris. The express-way that is usually full of roaring traffic and car-fumes is transformed into a pedestrian zone with sand, palm trees, grass and free activities for the public to enjoy. For those who are unable to leave the city for various reasons, it’s a fantastic opportunity to take in some sunshine, relax or get active by making the most of some of the activities on offer, without spending a cent.
With so much to choose from it’s difficult to find the time to take it all in. There are even music shows by the Hotel de Ville and a large outdoor cinema in Villette. So far I made the most of the outdoor cinema experience underneath the stars, watching a rather sureal Japanese film: TOKYO. It certainly made a change from the Galaxy cineplex!
So I urge anyone visiting Paris in the month of August to get out and do something. Whether it’s boating, Zumba classes (I’ll be doing that on Friday) swimming, cafes, cinema screenings almost every night or simply a promenade along the banks of the river. Some things in life are still free!