Did you know that Paris is practically devoid of Parisians in August?
That if you are planning to do business or make an appointment with a Notaire* or even reserve a seat in your favorite restaurant, chances are, you will be disappointed because nobody is there. Your business contact in the Champs Elysees is off to the south of France; your Notaire has taken his holiday in Corsica and your favorite restaurant’s answering machine is saying “Sorry, we are closed for our annual holiday. We will be back early September. Please call again later.”
And you know what – the only people running the city (literally) will be the tourists. Oh yes, in August, Paris is almost deserted except in tourist spots where throngs of tourists mill around.
I wanted to experience more how August is like in the capital so I scoured two areas of Paris the other day – one, frequented by the locals and the other, by tourists, and here’s what I found:
Most shops and restaurants are closed for their annual holidays
“To better serve you, we are renovating our offices. We are closed from 3 to 31 August 2010.” (A Property Agency)
“On Holiday. We will re-open on 24 August 2010” (Boutique)
“The restaurant is closed from 25 July to 22 August 2010” (Restaurant)
“Closure of our Shop, Saturday 17 July 2010. Re-opening early September. Wishing you a good holiday. Till then….Sylvie” (Boutique)
“Operation Peaceful Holidays” (Notice from the Brigade de Gendarmerie and Police Nationale)
Because most houses and shops are empty in August, the police has to do some extra patrolling jobs. In order to benefit from the scheme, one has to report to the Police Station of his absence so his house could be put under closed watch.
This regional train in Ile de France is almost bereft of passengers in August.
Even metro stations outside of the tourist spots look haunted
Where have all the cars gone?
Place Monge gets very very quiet without the Parisians
Normally, Parisian employees would be queueing up to this sandwich shop in rue Mouffetard at lunchtime
A narrow street off the Sorbonne at this time of the year could be a good place to play badminton
Now, I tried going to a tourist spot – The Sacre Coeur in Montmarte and here’s what I saw:
Looks like there’s a stampede!
The road to the Basilica is packed!
Even the funicular is packed!
A couple can barely kiss each other because of the moving crowd
Never have I seen these steps to the Sacre Coeur packed like sardines
These steps are converted into an auditorium to watch street performers
Souvenir hawkers such as this vendor are normally ignored by passersby, but in August, they make brisk business
And the foot of the Eiffel Tower in August
Just outside of Paris, this town of Limours is haunted
*Notaire – a public officer who performs similar functions as a solicitor