Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Paris in the summer

For many years I never understood why French people take their holidays en masse, hitting the highways and airports like so many sheep. I made a point of staying in Paris over the summer to enjoy the plummeting stress level and traffic-free streets. Summer is the time for champagne picnics on the banks of the Seine, for parties on the pedestrian Pont des Arts, and for cycling the wrong way down cobbled one-way streets (something that intrepid tourists can now try thanks to Velib', a new program that is making 20,000 bicycles available for an annual rental fee of €29 plus an hourly charge, with the first half hour free).
The only downside to lingering in Paris over the summer is that hard-working chefs, shopkeepers and market stallholders are among the first to join the exodus. I remember visiting the Saxe-Breteuil market in late July to find it positively desolate, with only two lonely merchants. Most bistros close for the entire month of August and sometimes part of July, and even the famed ice cream shop Berthillon pulls down its shutters in hot weather as founder Raymond Berthillon didn't want people eating his intensely flavored boules "just to stay cool".
Fortunately, some of the city's best restaurants and food shops are going against tradition to stay open this year. If you're planning to be in Paris this summer, have a look at my article on the Fodor's news wire to see how you can satisfy the most likely food cravings, from cheese to ice cream. I can also design you a custom itinerary based on your interests.
Just don't try to get in touch between August 11th and 25th - I'll be on holiday.

2 comments:

R Khooks said...

What a lovely picture. I don't understand the Parisians Summer fleeing either. But then again Paris is great when there are less people around.

Rosa said...

It's funny, I've come to appreciate the August break - it's the only time of year when it feels acceptable to me to be away! But I agree with you, Paris feels so much more relaxed in the summer.