Work in August? Non!
In France, vacations are sacred. In the U.S., the work ethic seems too strong to let us relax.
Published August 20, 2006
AS an American who lives in Paris, I am always amazed at the way the French close up shop and go on vacation for the whole month of August. It's a sacred rite, sanctioned by the law that gives French workers five weeks of paid vacation a year. Many head to the beach or vacation homes in the country. Others spend the month traveling to such far-away places as India, French Polynesia and the Seychelles.
That's me. Of course, my job as a travel writer is easy to like, and I'm happy to take my identity from it, as do many Americans in other lines of work.
Not so in France, where it's considered gauche to start cocktail party conversation with "What do you do?" and where work is avoided on whatever pretext occurs, including long lunches, Monday mornings off, multitudinous national holidays, strikes (enjoyed even by uninvolved people who tend to stay home whenever big protests threaten to stop or slow down mass transit systems) and my favorite, the unexpected closure, or fermeture exceptionnelle.
10 hours ago