Paris in the Fall: La rentreeParis in the Fall – Ryan S B

Ask any Parisian what he or she loves about New York, and they’ll inevitably gush about its energie. It’s true that Paris can feel sleepy in comparison (which is actually why I love it), but I would argue that there is no better energy than that of Paris in September.

This moment is known as “la rentrée,” when the locals return from their summer vacations (many of which span the entire month of August), looking great and feeling even better. Whether they’ve been surfing in Biarritz, lounging in Provence, or schmoozing in St. Tropez, they return to Paris revitalized, rejuvenated, practically reborn—not to mention seriously bronzed.

The lengthy summer vacation is sacred—and practically mandatory—in France. My first boss in Paris used to leave his entire business in the hands of his highly unprepared assistant (which would have been me, had I worked for him in August) for the entire month. His livelihood was one thing, but les vacances? We don’t mess with this tradition. After all: all work and no play makes Parisians a very cranky bunch. And so, they play. And they don’t compromise, because vacation is a fundamental human right.

Fall in Paris: Children going back to schoolFrench Children Go Back to School – Olibac, Mafe

To those of us not currently living in Europe, the idea of taking four consecutive weeks off to do absolutely nothing sounds absurd, but behind our eye-rolling, we’re insanely jealous. To think, I spent August in New York, sweating and brooding and “working” (though the heat had slowed my cervical capacity to the point where remembering how to turn on my laptop felt like a triumph). All the while, beach-themed dreams danced through my head.

The painful truth: those who actually spent August on a beach will probably get a lot more done this month than I will. And they’ll probably live longer as well. I don’t have stats to back this up, but my own anthropological research (which involves creepily perching on park benches and at cafes to observe Parisians) would suggest that September is the most productive month in France.

Never forget that when it comes to leisure, the French know what they’re doing. And as they return to Paris, looking as though they’ve spent the summer happily bathing in olive oil and inhaling lavender-infused breezes, there’s no doubt they’re onto something.

That’s it. Next summer we’re all going to Cap Ferrat. See you there.

France Summer Vacations: Cap FerratSaint Jean Cap Ferrat on the Cote D’Azur – Mgenin

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Written by Tory Hoen for the Hip Paris blog. For our amazing rentals in Paris, Provence & Tuscany check out our website Haven in Paris.

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Tory Hoen

Tory Henwood Hoen has been published by New York Magazine, Vogue, Condé Nast Traveler, Bon Appétit, Fortune, and others. She was Creative Director of Brand at M.M.LaFleur, where she founded the brand’s digital magazine, The M Dash. Her debut novel, The Arc, is available in bookshops near you and online.


  1. Thanks for the comments, all! Although apparently Sarkozy is fighting for later retirement and less vacation time? Can it be? I have a feeling the French won’t stand for that. We’ll see. Tory

  2. Tori –

    First, great article as always.

    Second, I can vouch for this September productivity of which you speak. My Parisian clients assigned and signed off on more work these past three days then they did pretty much the whole summer. Quick, efficient turnaround. It’s crazy.

    I am a believer. And I am also going to take all of August off next year, dammit!

  3. Love this blog entry! I’m in Toronto and can also feel the back to work/school time of year set in after spending 6 weeks in cottage county….which is what the Canuks do (an American who has become accustom) here in Canada. I have to say…..I too feel very relaxed and relish the turning of the leaves, cold brisk walks with my favorite fall sweater sipping a hot cup of coffee as my boots make their way through the fallen leaves. Love it!!

  4. Ah yes, we were posting together – and I was also going to say that I LOVE PARIS when nobody is there but the zillions of tourists! You actually find a place to station your car… and you find a seat in the métro! 🙂 That should also count for something.

  5. …. and I go on dreaming…. (not necessarily Cap Ferrat but Lac Léman (Switzerland)….
    wonderful post as well as beautiful pixies of autumnal parks and Cap F.!
    Yesterday, I met up with a friend in Paris; she was away for THREE LUXURIOUS WEEKS in her pad next to the sea nearby Marseille, and I hardly recognised her. She looked about 15 yrs younger…. ravishing, belle and full of energy!
    Aaah, les Parisiens!

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