August Is When Uptight Paris Unbuttons a Few More Buttons

The French capital empties out in August, but still has energy—just a different sort.

August in Paris is over, and I miss it already. The deadest month, the most quiet, the month when Parisians leave on their endless holidays and the city empties out like a resort in the off season, only less melancholy. Traffic thins; shops close, sometimes for the entire month; restaurants shut; there are seats to be found on the metro; and in the evening, stragglers (not everyone can afford to go away) emerge from their stuffy, un-air-conditioned apartments and gather along the banks of the Seine.

In August, this uptight city unbuttons a few more buttons.

One warm evening, I walked a good stretch of riverfront promenade, and the scene was joyous. Families out for a walk; kids climbing on climbing walls; couples embracing; friends at picnic tables eating from Tupperware; tourists taking pictures of wounded Notre-Dame, without her spire, encased in scaffolding; South Asian men selling bottles of beer and chilled rosé from backpacks—“Du vin, madame?”—people of all ages and colors dancing with abandon to Michael Jackson’s Thriller on a makeshift dance floor near the Pont Neuf, like wild teenagers letting it loose while their parents are out of town.

The bakery near my apartment was closed for the first three weeks of August. Three weeks! For a while, when I looked out my apartment windows in the evenings, nary a light was on in the building across the street. Even Google knows it is August in Paris. Gmail recently offered some canned responses to an invitation I’d received. Its options: “I’ll be there!” “I’ll come!” and “I’m on vacation!” I managed to get a table, without waiting, at one of the best restaurants in Paris

The French government shuts down in August, too. It is not uncommon for high-level officials with sensitive dossiers in important ministries to take three or four weeks off, without checking email. The entire country operates on what’s basically an academic schedule. In May and June, people start making appointments for after the rentrée—that is, September. Employees have seven weeks of paid holiday time (albeit with lower pay than their counterparts elsewhere).

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August 25, 1944, the liberation of Paris: “the greatest day since the storming of the Bastille” 

75 years ago, the capital was finally free from the German yoke. This historic day will remain, in the eyes of the whole world, the symbol of the renewal of France and democracy.

“There are minutes there, we all feel it, which exceed each of our poor lives.” This August 25, 1944, late afternoon, the atmosphere is solemn at the City Hall of Paris. General de Gaulle, who has just arrived suddenly in this high place of republican declarations, is received by the communist Georges Marrane, on behalf of the Paris committee of the Liberation, and by the Catholic Georges Bidault, president of the National Council of the Resistance (CNR), the successor of Jean Moulin. Paris has just been released in the middle of the afternoon from the Nazi yoke. Everything was done in haste. [ . . . ]

Continue at: August 25, 1944, the liberation of Paris: “the greatest day since the storming of the Bastille” 

Moriarty at Shakespeare & Company

Moriarty is a musical collective made up of five artists of French, American, Swiss and Vietnamese origin. The members were mainly born in France to American parents. The group was named Moriarty in reference to Dean Moriarty, the hero of On the Road by Jack Kerouac.

Initially, the group consisted of eight members: singer Charlène Dupuy, drummer Médéric de Vanssay, and saxophonist Davide Woods have since left the group. Rosemary Standley joined in 1999. Moriarty went from performing traditional blues to rock’n’roll. Successive departures from the group reduced them to five members (Rosemary, Arthur, Thomas, Charles and Stephan), and forced them to play acoustically.
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As families flee Paris, fingers point at Airbnb

Paris (AFP) – The bells will ring for the last time this week at Vaugirard elementary school in central Paris, the latest school in the city to close as spiralling property prices drive families out of the capital.

Just 51 students were enrolled this year at Vaugirard, a stark illustration of the steady decline in numbers at many schools in central Paris which some parents and teachers blame on the surge of home-renting giant Airbnb.

“The centre of Paris is basically becoming a vast Airbnb hotel, and there are fewer and fewer residents,” Jean-Jacques Renard, vice president of the FCPE parents’ association, told AFP. Continue reading “As families flee Paris, fingers point at Airbnb”