Bonnes Vacances! It’s Summertime in France!
A few holidays of major importance are coming up. For Americans, July 4th celebrates the country’s independence, and for the French, July 14th is their magic day. We’re all gearing up.
I’m headed back to Paris in order to help celebrate Breakfast in America’s 20th Anniversary—what has become “a mainstay of the Parisian culinary scene.” For two decades, the American diner has delighted the taste buds of Parisians, expats and tourists alike, offering delicious American-style breakfasts, fluffy pancakes, juicy burgers, creamy milkshakes and other typically American specialties. In spite of my crazy diet, I can’t wait to dig into an old-fashioned American burger.
Founder Craig Carlson (also the author of two books), is one of my oldest and closest Paris friends, who happens to live just a few doors down from me in Le Marais. He sees his contribution to Paris as “a true symbol of Franco-American friendship, bringing a touch of American authenticity to the heart of Paris.” With two locations in the capital, “BIA” continues to make American food lovers happy with authentic diner cooking and a typical American atmosphere—service with a smile and free coffee refills!
Don’t expect to be able to get a table on July 4th as that evening is reserved for their own private party. But any other time you want a taste of America, get in line to get your table at either location! Visit their website for more information.
The French version of independence, July 14th, AKA “Bastille Day,” has become quite a bit more important for me than America’s, now that I’ve lived in France for almost 29 years and have become increasingly unhappy with the political state of affairs in the U.S. I may be preaching to the choir about my feelings surrounding my own native country, whose moral values don’t match my own, because I hear it almost every day from fellow Americans. The folks who dream of living in France are willing to trade their fear of mass murders and lack of gun control, rescinded freedoms and equality of women, inaccessible and expensive health care, poor public transportation, low-quality public education and generally a high cost of living, for a richer, higher quality lifestyle in France, at a much lower cost.
As I was dining Sunday evening on the rooftop terrace of the home of clients of ours who moved here a bit more than a year ago—with its expansive views of Nice from the hilltop of Mont-Boron—we contemplated our dilemma as Americans wanting more out of life than the U.S. can give us. I didn’t know this when I moved here three decades ago. I just came because I was drawn to it and wanted to test it out…then never left, for all these obvious reasons…and more.
Americans are visiting France in droves. On the streets of Paris, Nice and everywhere in France, Americans are taking their summer vacations this year in the land of “Freedom Fries” (remember when that was a dirty word?). I’ve never heard so much American English spoken and I hear their conversations. While they are getting a taste of France, they are wondering how they can incorporate this lifestyle into their own.
Our clients are on a rampage to find a home here, whether it’s a rental, a full-time move over, or the purchase of a home for their use on occasion or forever. Unfortunately, this is exactly the time of year that makes it most difficult. When the question of real estate market seasonality comes up, there is only one answer: avoid the summer! More specifically, between Bastille Day and “La Rentrée,” when the kids go back to school and the French return to their jobs after summer vacation.
This is one of the French moral values that we expats have embraced—the right to a proper vacation—enough time to really unwind and reset. In fact, the government sets the rules to RESTRICT OVERWORKING!! Can you imagine such a thing? This doesn’t jive with the American idea of living to work, rather than working to live!
Here’s the deal:
An employee is generally NOT PERMITTED TO WORK MORE THAN 10 HOURS PER DAY, unless specific circumstances apply. Furthermore, employees are restricted from working more than a total of 48 hours in a single week. Over a period of 12 weeks, the average weekly working hours cannot exceed 44 hours.
LOL! I need to speak to “my boss” about this since, like a good American, I work at least 66 hours a week. (This is the bane of a self-employed existence.)
Employees are entitled to a 20-minute break after working continuously for six hours. Okay, that means a coffee or smoke break (yes, they are still smoking), if not a LONG lunch break.
Night workers cannot work for more than eight consecutive hours unless an agreement is reached with the employer. The total weekly working hours for night workers must not exceed 40 hours over a period of 12 consecutive weeks.
The standard working hours in France are set at 35 hours per week or 1,607 hours per year. Any additional hours worked beyond this threshold are considered overtime: a 25% increase for the first eight additional hours worked in a week and a 50% increase for subsequent hours exceeding the initial eight hours.
Here’s the best part: employees in France are entitled to 2.5 days of paid holiday for each month worked, equivalent to FIVE FULL WEEKS of annual leave per year. However, taking more than 24 working days consecutively is not allowed. Okay, not bad, don’t you think? That’s three weeks with the front and back weekends. And get this, employees MUST TAKE A MINIMUM OF 12 WORKING DAYS as their primary holiday.
Add to all this a total of 11 public holidays, with an additional two days in the Alsace region or the Moselle department (add Good Friday):
• January 1st: New Year’s Eve or Jour de l’An
• Easter Monday or Lundi de Pâques
• Monday after Pentecost or Lundi de Pentecôte (50 days after Easter)
• May 1st: Labor Day or Fête du Travail
• May 8th: VE Day or Fête de la Victoire 1945
• Ascension Day or l’Ascension
• July 14th: Bastille Day or Fête Nationale
• August 15th: Assumption Day or Assomption
• November 1st: All Saints’ Day or La Toussaint
• November 11th: Armistice Day
• December 25th: Christmas Day or Noël
Top it all off with the long weekends they take, known as “faire le pont,” when they don’t work between a statutory holiday and the nearest weekend.
Let’s face it. The French know how to live! (And work in between their time off!)
This is why these are the times you can’t effectively find property! We Americans are on vacation and want to take this precious time to visit properties (to rent or purchase), but no one is around to make that happen! The owners are on vacation. The agents are on vacation. The notaries are on vacation…and you’re on vacation, too, don’t forget!
Some property seekers have managed to find true bargains during the summer as those properties on the market are the ones that may be desperate to be sold and therefore at rock-bottom prices. But, this is still a big challenge.
If you do get lucky and manage to find and/or purchase a property between Bastille Day and La Rentrée, you aren’t going to be successful in preparing it to be your home as the contractors and designers are on vacation, too!
The point is that you can’t expect to be successful this time of year (and other times that are riddled with vacation time such as the month of May and the Christmas holidays). Otherwise, the market is wide open.
Expectations are what it’s all about. So, plan accordingly. Come in the summer for fun and relaxation, leaving the “work” to another time! You do that, and we’ll be on board with you!
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group®
P.S. I’m taking a couple of vacations myself this year—to Greece in July and to Corsica in August. I may be writing my usual Nouvellettres® from Greece, but you can count on NOT hearing from me while I’m vegging out on the beaches in Corsica August 12-19! This way, you get a break, too!