Even though a good chunk of the population doesn’t get July and August off, France is now on holiday mode. School holidays started, exams are over, it’s hot and it’s pretty much understood that for the next couple of months, business activities will be on hold and things will be slower… unless you are a seasonal worker. Local stores close for a week, every weekend or even the entire month of July or August. If the shelves are empty in grocery stores, people shrug and just blame the temporary shortage on “les vacances”, bien sûr.

The holidays serve as an all-purpose excuse. Spending too much money? Bof, c’est la vacances! Drinking too much? Les vacances! Eating out? Mais oui, c’est la vacances! Whatever happens, on verra en septembre.

Ah, these hedonistic French… While American citizens are not legally entitled to paid leave, the average French worker can expect 30 days a year of paid vacation. And they clock off relatively easily as time off is engrained in the culture, unlike in North America where if you take longer than a long weekend, you’re basically seen as a slacker.

French travel a lot within the country in July and August, and many take the train. The extensive network goes just about everywhere, and it’s fast and convenient—although it’s no longer cheap. I walked by Nantes’ train station over the weekend and it was packed with travellers arriving and leaving. Even though train stations are dirty and convenience stores inside are a bit of a rip-off, I kind of like them. There is something comforting about those Relay H where you pick up a cheap magazine and cigarettes, the vending machines that sell bottles of Orangina, the out-of-service photo booths, Paul or other bakery franchises for a quick snack… I spent a lot of time in train stations when I was a student, and I almost miss them now.

Nantes Train Station
Nantes Train Station
Queuing for Tickets
Queuing for Tickets
Piano to Entertain Passengers Waiting
Piano to Entertain Passengers Waiting
Resting Inside a Photo Booth
Resting Inside a Photo Booth
Connected
Connected
Waiting for the Train
Waiting for the Train
Just Arrived
Just Arrived

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11 Comments

  1. Gagan July 5, 2015 at 9:55 am

    France is definitely on my list. Of course I have seen all about France in the movies, English movies. “Mr. Bean’s Holiday” and the one in particular which I liked was “Midnight in Paris”; I would love that to happen to me. How great would it be to sit down with Hemingway. And of course, the book, “A Moveable Feast”; Hemingway drew places pretty well with his words. It would be wonderful to experience that.

    Orangina! I love that drink. Of course we don’t get it here. I had it in Tokyo, went crazy on them 🙂

    Reply
    1. Zhu July 5, 2015 at 3:49 pm

      You will be able to find Orangina is some stores in Canada 😉

      Reply
  2. Bianca July 5, 2015 at 10:06 am

    Welcome to Europe dear Juliette, how long are you staying? We are having a massive heat wave all throughout Europe right now so brace yourself and I hope you enjoy your stay! Ps- please do post lots and lots of pics!!

    Reply
    1. Zhu July 5, 2015 at 3:49 pm

      Thank you! We will be there for a few weeks. Nantes is hot but not unbearably hot, so I’m happy with it!

      Reply
  3. Martin Penwald July 5, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    30 days a year of vacation is for the Iess fortunate. It can easiIy be more than that.

    Reply
    1. Zhu July 5, 2015 at 3:50 pm

      I know… les veinards.

      Reply
  4. Laura July 5, 2015 at 11:40 pm

    I’ll go to France in august – one week in Nice and a weekend in Lyon. I am so looking forward to it!
    Oh and for Italian standards the French train stations are clean, trains are efficient and food is cheap. You have no private beaches so you don’t even have to pay for that when on holiday at the seaside 😀

    Reply
    1. Zhu July 6, 2015 at 4:05 pm

      I think Southern France has many private beaches, but this is not a trend on the Atlantic side. Not that I know of, anyway. Lyon is among my favourite cities in France, lucky you!

      Reply
  5. Lexie July 8, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Happy holidays 🙂

    Reply
    1. Zhu July 8, 2015 at 4:26 pm

      Merci!

      Reply
  6. Pingback: Cultural Snapshot: 5 Things Found in Nantes

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