Wednesday, August 02, 2006

August Vacations

Vacation Time !

August is vacation time and about half the Parisians leave the city for two weeks at a time. That is to say, the other half of the Parisians leave for two weeks the opposite half of August ! The first, middle and last weekends of August (coinciding with two weeks of vacation) are mass exodus and mass entry times in France. The highways are blocked for dozens of miles in all directions starting at 6am on the Saturday mornings for those leaving and all day Sunday for those returning. Special traffic reports are issued for these three weekends.

In the city of Paris in August, traffic is light, many restaurants, bakeries and small shops are closed. Even the justifiably famous little original ice cream shop Berthillon on Isle Saint Louis, first opened in 1954, closes for half of July and all of August (go figure, peak ice cream season). Thankfully, their ice cream and sorbet are sold at a few other select cafés and restaurants in the city and one can enjoy those intensely flavored tiny scoops all summer.

La Cage

Around the touristique city center and the famous monuments (Notre Dame de Paris, La Musée du Louvre, Eiffel Tower) there are plenty of vacationers. Indeed, Paris is the most visited city in the world. But I happen to like Paris in August just because, there are fewer Parisians. Well, I like the Parisians but in the less touristique neighborhoods where I live, there are fewer people. I like August, even if it means I have to plan shopping and restaurant dining more carefully. One of the French told me, La cage est plus belle sans les oiseaux (the cage is more beautiful without the birds). I totally agree.


August Excitement

August is certainly not without excitement. Of course, you have heard about the controversy of Floyd Landis and the Tour de France doping tests. Just this week Pat McQuid, the head of the Union Cycliste Internationale, decided to accelerate the testing of Landis' famous B sample. To resolve the issue quickly ? Well, perhaps but you can guess the real reason. Yes, the French national anti-doping laboratory in Châtenay-Malabry, will be closed starting this Friday, for two weeks vacation. The laboratory agreed to start the testing even if it means that they have to work on Saturday to finish the detailed tests before their vacation.

To all,

Bonnes vacances !

... but I will be in Paris in August to enjoy la cage sans oiseaux.

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