Summer in French Cities

Planning on coming to visit Paris or Lyon or any French city in July or August? Probably don’t. Summer in French cities is less ‘sexy European vacation’ and more ‘dystopian wasteland’.

Since I’m not French, I’m not taking a whole month off this summer, and will still be working! Check out Lyon Wine Tastings!

Vacation in France

The French have a reputation for being allergic to work. This is 100% true. They work as little as possible, and have truly insane amounts of vacation.

I do quite like this about the French, they know how to live.

The French take vacation very seriously, with a legal minimum of 25 days paid vacation time (not including public holidays)! This 25 days of vacay doesn’t include the 11 annual public holidays, or the extra time French workers are entitled to if they work over 35 hours a week. Yep. 35 hours a week.

French summer sunset
Sunset over the Croix-Rousse

With this extra time, a French person can gain a week or two more of holiday.

So, considering that they have 5-7 weeks of holiday for a year, it is absolutely normal for a French person to take an entire month off in the summer.

Last year, 66% percent of French people went away for a vacation, and you can bet that much of that was in August.

July and August in France

Traditionally (from the 1930s onwards), the working class took August off, and the upper class took July off to avoid the working-class people. Apparently.

Now, it seems like things start to empty out starting in mid-July. There is a mass exodus from the cities, with people traveling to the beach, the mountains, and the countryside in general.

The French don’t seem to travel abroad so much during this time, it’s more internal tourism, and the coastal and mountain towns see huge booms.

Couldn’t find much awesome data cause my googling in French is limited, but I did find that in 2004, 40% of 35-39 year olds went on vacation in August.

Summer in French City Lyon
Hazy summer evening in Lyon

Summer Bread Struggles in French Cities

My favorite bakery, Partisan Boulangerie, just re-opened after a month off. It was torture. This bakery is so good it’s on my top 10 list of reasons to visit Lyon!

I’ve literally had to serve basic bitch baguette at my Lyon Wine Tastings, which is a tragedy.

And it’s not just me, everybody, even in Paris, struggles with finding decent bread in the summer!

I mean in some ways this is really great, it means that even people who work service jobs get to take time off. (In general, service jobs are more highly valued here, as they should be!)

In America, people who work in service have zero legal minimum paid leave, and people who work hourly aren’t entitled to shit. Poor people aren’t able to take time off and vacation is only for the privileged.

Lyon bakery bread
Bread from Partisan Boulangerie

What this means for Summer in French Cities

The cities are empty. Paris clears out, Lyon has tumbleweeds moseying through, shops, restaurants, bars, bakeries, and pretty much everything in between are closed. Even the post office has reduced hours.

It is hard to get shit done!

I guess the only thing to do about it is to go on vacation too!

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