It’s Not Weird. It’s Paris.
It’s August and Paris is quiet. There is less traffic and more parking spaces, less people on the streets, in the cafés and restaurants, fewer stores and businesses open. There is even a smell of piss on the streets stronger than usual, but a lot less doggie poop. It’s weird.
No, it’s not weird, it’s just August in Paris.
The first time I came to Paris in 1979 it was August. I didn’t notice that it wasn’t as busy as usual, but then again, there was nothing to which it could be compared. What I did discover, however, is that it was so cold that I had to buy a coat to wear to keep from freezing. That was weird enough.
For a while I enjoyed the solitude of the summer month and then years later got jealous of everyone else who was on vacation. That’s when I decided to be on vacation, too…even though it’s the worst time of year to travel: transportation and accommodations costs are high and it can be really hot depending on where you’re vacationing. If you don’t book your August trip by February, then the selections are more limited and costs go up — so you really have to have your plans made more than six months in advance.
Get used to it. That’s the way it is.
And if there is anything you want to accomplish in August, forget it. No one doing business is around. We have clients in the process of purchasing property, but “tant pis” (too bad) — they just have to wait until the sellers, agents and Notaires are back at work…in September, delaying everything by several weeks. That’s the way it is.
If you read the Nouvellettre® regularly, then you know I just returned from a week in Mallorca where I behaved very much like a vacationer — or more like a lizard on the beach soaking up the sun. Four days now in Paris is enough and I’m off again to the beach tomorrow — this time to Nice for two weeks of sun on the seaside pebbles while continually writing the Nouvellettres®, working on my memoir and doing the usual property-related work.
Nice is a different world from Paris in August. Nice is where the Parisians are, as well as the vacationers from all over the world escaping the larger inland cities. The streets will be jammed, particularly my own (rue Masséna) which is what I call “the parade route.” I have to part the Brazilian dancers to get in the door this time of year.
Mostly, I am anxious to take in the current atmosphere in the city since the attack on the “Prom” (Promenade des Anglais) on July 14th. One reader sent in an article from Buzzfeed titled “This Is What It’s Like to Watch Hate and Fear Grow After the Attack in Nice” (by Jules Darmanin) talking about “The terrorist who drove a truck through the crowd in Nice attacked the only place in [his] hometown where people from all walks of life could co-exist. Now hate speech is on the rise.”
This is what terrorism does to us — creates fear and hate. Monday night at dinner with old friend and famed “mosaïste,” Véronique Husson, who did the beautiful tile work at “Le Matisse,” we discussed the atmosphere this summer in Paris as a result of the past horrific events. She feels the sadness and fear coming from the average Parisians simply by osmosis. Véro is working this summer at “Mademoiselle Charivari,” Clara Garcia’s hat kiosk at the base of Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre and said sales are down at least by 30%. The spot is ‘dead’ compared to previous years and everyone in the tourism business is complaining. We are not surprised.
But don’t let my bleak picture of the city keep you away. The tourists don’t know on what they’re missing out, however. There’s still plenty to do in the City of Light in August, even if I won’t be here to enjoy it.
If you want beach, there is always the surf and sand at Paris Plage.
If you want films married with evening picnicking, then don’t miss spreading your blanket at the Cinéma en Plein Air à La Villette.
If you want music, then head to the Parc Floral for the Classique au Vert festival for weekend listening pleasure.
And have you see the news about the possibility of London’s The Bunyadi pop-up NUDE restaurant coming to Paris? You have to wait till September, however. Thanks to all the empty spaces in the city, Founder Seb Lyall is scheduling it this fall…as soon as he finds the best venue for those who wish to dine in the buff. (Count me out.) Have a read about this in the New York Times.
Is it weird? No, it’s just Paris…August or not.
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
P.S. August is the perfect time to be planning your fall/winter adventures in Paris and France. We are here to help with at least part of those plans. Visit Adrian Leeds Group apartments and begin searching for your home away from home today!