5 September 2006

C'est la Rentrée

When we jealously criticize the anti-industriousness of the French working system, we secretly imagine ourselves enjoying the same 35 weekly working hours and the 45 days of annual leave that a French employee enjoys. The long August vacation is ever tempting. Imagine yourself lying on the beach, reading and daydreaming nonstop for 30 days, i.e. 920 hours, with no hurry and no worry for whatsoever. Isn't life great?!

If you are panicky amazed by the figures above, you would be even more stunned with their la rentrée (the return). In France, a new year begins not on 1 January, not on 1 April as our new fiscal year, but in la rentrée. La rentrée is the equivalent of September, when school year starts again. As students, we used to plan our new timetable and swear to be hardworking. Once we left school, September lost its freshness and grandeur. And the French keep it. It's the return from long vacation. It's the return with a new suntan look, and a fresh spirit.

Some days ago, the Spanish paper said that 35% of Spanish suffered from the post-vacation syndromes, i.e. the depression of returning to work. Do the post-vacation syndromes exist in France? If they do, they are relieved by la rentrée.

So what's the magic recipe of la rentrée?
- la rentrée of sports
- la rentrée of literature
- la rentrée of art
- la rentrée of cinema
- la rentrée of books
- la rentrée of dance
- la rentrée of concert
- la rentrée of shopping
- la rentrée of restaurant
Doors reopened in the city, new programmes and products were prepared for the year.

Since Paris, and many other big cities were virtually empty in August when all the French fled for the seaside, the city life energy acuminated and impatiently waiting for exploration. And the French themselves too, had retreated from the crowd and the city for a whole month, now they want something exciting and hilarious. They don't need to follow the Spanish researcher's advice of separating the holidays into two or three, since they are professionals in this field and they have an exciting la rentrée waiting for them. The only point is, you better to like taking part in cultural activities in Paris. Otherwise, la rentrée can't really cure your depression should you have one.

I appreciate the thinking of having a break and a fresh start, though I am not myself diehard advocate of Play hard and work hard formula. Of course, going back to work is the same repulsive idea but if you had really long holidays, say 30 days, perhaps you start missing your job… is this the clever strategy of the French employers?