Back to Work or Laying Back?

“Dear Clients, the Bistrot du Palais will be closed
from Thursday, July 31 through Tuesday, September 2. See you soon…
Photo by Diane Benson taken August 12, 2008

Back to Work or Laying Back?

Parler Paris…
Your taste of life in Paris and France
Monday, September 1, 2008
Paris, France

Community Calendar Updated Every Wednesday

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Dear Parler Paris Reader,

Call it 09-01-08 or 01-09-08. Either way you write the date, in France it’s the first day Back to School and that means the official beginning of “La Rentrée.” In the U.S. and Canada, it’s Labor day, an annual holiday designed to honor the achievements of workers…by not working.

In France, it may be the heaviest work day of the year, when the French try to make up a summer’s worth of worklessness the very first day back. It’s always a scramble.

The kids come home from school with a long list of necessary tools for their new year in class that the parents must fulfill by tomorrow’s class so this afternoon the school supply “rayon” (department) in “Monoprix” will be wall-to-wall with customers. In 1994 when we experienced this ourselves with our then 8-year-old, and a list of things in French we didn’t comprehend at all, we found a neighborhood “papeterie” (stationery shop) who was willing to stock the basket for us to the tune of about $200. We were shocked! And you see, it was memorable.

At the offices, returning workers will find a month’s worth of mail and email, not to mention lots of calls to return and appointments to make they had put off until now. Everyone will want to catch up fully by this afternoon so life can go on. Let’s see how fast they can work their way through the piles.

A one month vacation and the insanity during “La Rentrée” has never made much sense to me, but what do I know? I’m a non-stop-working American with a strong entrepreneurial spirit — a product of the society in which I was raised. In Barack Obama’s historic acceptance speech this past August 28th, he used the “w” word (“work”) 35 times. In Nicolas Sarkozy’s victory speech on May 6, 2007, he used the “w” word twice. What does that tell you?

In North America, you would think today would be sacred, when everyone feels totally entitled to take the day off, but they don’t. A poll taken by Kronos, a workforce management company, reported September 1st in 2004, showed that one-third of Americans planned to spend the holiday weekend at work, and another 12% of the respondents said they may have to be on the job, as well. “According to the Kronos survey, 35% of Americans usually work during the weekends, with most of them (95%) working at least two weekends each month.” And furthermore, two-thirds of them hadn’t allotted time for vacation at all.

Are we nuts?

Meanwhile, 90% of New Orleanians and other Louisianans have evacuated (by order of the Governor) to points north of the hurri

cane (“Gustav”) threatened Gulf Coast, turning their Labor Day into a “déja vu” — a potential repeat performance of Hurricane Katrina three years ago. They are definitely “taking the day off” while trying to take their minds off what might happen should ‘lightning’ strike twice. The rest aren’t leaving their homes and the officials are threatening to send them Angola Prison if they are caught looting or even stepping out of their doorstep during curfew hours! A little drastic, no?

Parisians are back from vacation tan as toast and exposing as much of their new found freckles as they can afford to show off. They might as well have neon signs on their foreheads that read, “I went to the beach this summer, ha, ha, ha,” hoping to make us envious of all that rest and relaxation and fun in the sun. It works (there goes that word, again). It’s been a cool and often cloudy August in the City of No-Sun-Light (I lovingly refer to often as “Gray Paree”). Weather is not a reason to live here, that’s for sure, so no wonder they run to the shores.

The transition from summer vacation to “La Rentrée” seemed like overnight…but it really took this past week for residents to make their way back to the city in dribs and drabs. The Saturday night bus at 1 a.m. heading across the river from the Left Bank was standing room only. A week earlier, you could have shot a cannon down rue de Rivoli and it wouldn’t have been heard, much less felt. The movie theater was sold out and the queue to enter the Annie Liebovitz exhibit was down the block. My little street is bustling with noise this morning, while for the past few weeks I’ve heard barely a whisper.

Yep. They’re back, big time.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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P.S. Mark your calendars for Parler Paris Après Midi La Rentrée gathering September 9th, the Film Producing Workshop
by Judith Merians September 13th and the Parler Parlor
Rentrée Party Picnic September 20th.

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This Week in French Property Insider…

Chez La TourChez La Tour
By Adrian Leeds

Sallie Robbins-Druian and her husband, Jay, considered purchasing a pied-à-terre of their own. They are proprietors of a French wine shop in the heart of historic downtown Los Gatos, California (, offering the wines from the major grape growing regions of FranceSubscribers Read On…

Learn how to buy property in France!

French Property Insider is a weekly e-zine, sharing insights, recommendations, tips, and discoveries about Paris real estate and French property. Each information-packed issue is devoted to educating its readers on how to effectively, efficiently and profitably purchase property in France.

For more information visit or email [email protected]

This October, Your Paris Dream Could Come True…

>Living and Investing in France Real Estate Conference!
October 11-12, 2008
Paris, France

If you’ve always dreamed of owning your own “pied-à-terre” in Paris or home in the Provinces of France, perhaps as a future retirement home or for now as investment property rented part of the year…this power-packed two-day conference is a MUST.

Hosted by Adrian Leeds, long time resident of Paris, Editor of the Parler Paris Nouvellettre® and French Property Insider weekly E-zine and John Howell, lead attorney for the International Law Partnership, London, these two days in Paris will point you in the right direction to make it really happen!

For more information or to register, visit frenchpropertyconference or email Schuyler Hoffman, Conference Coordinator, at [email protected]

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Parler Paris Après Midi

Come for a drink and to meet and chat with other readers in Paris…

The next gathering is September 9, 2008 and every second Tuesday of the month.

Parler Parlor French-English Conversation Group

Practice speaking French and English. Make friends, discuss interesting topics, learn about other cultures, progress in understanding and speaking, naturally and easily. Meets three times a week — come as often as you like!


Parler Parlor meets Tuesdays 6:30 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

23, boulevard de Sébastopol (at the corner of rue de la Reynie), 1st arrondissement
3rd Floor on the Left (read notice on door to obtain entry code)
Métro Châtelet, Les Halles

Wednesdays 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
14 rue Mabillon, 6th arrondissement
(at rue Guisarde and Le Marché Saint-Germain) 1st Floor
Métro Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Mabillon, Odéon

For further details, visit

Join Us for the Rentree Party Picnic!

Saturday, September 20, 2008
Join us for the Conversation Group and then meet there to picnic on Sandwiches, Desserts, Wine and Drinks — 10€

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