A Paris Without Parisians

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Paris Without Parisians

Just you and me buddy...
Riding my bicycle along the Canal on a Sunday afternoon, the sun shining its best and the temperature giving no one a reason to stay inside, I was taken aback. Hardly anyone was in the streets jogging, walking, playing, biking, picnicking. It was deserted as few beautiful Sundays have ever been deserted before. 

But it's August. Silly me. I’ve been summering in Paris since 2008. Finally I am starting to understand it. 

There are the obligatory activities that I partake in, be it the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower on July 14th or the Paris Plages along the Seine and Canal. Maybe I’ll play pétanque, maybe go out for a drink along the river, or jog for hours through the Bois de Vincennes with a little SPF on my face.

But only in August do I really start loving Paris because, well, the Parisians leave.

Picnic along the Seine...requisite...

While Notre Dame and St-Germain are overtaken by Americans, Italians, and Scandinavians looking to explore the City of Light, Parisians are sunning along the water somewhere south, somewhere far. And it’s awesome. I always knew this was the case, taking trips to Spain, Italy, and the south of France at the same time as the Parisians – but I never truly realized how incredible it is to have the city all to oneself.

The Canal St-Martin has more space to sit and breathe. Vélibs are easier to find. Lines at the bakeries (if they are open) are shorter. Jogging in the streets is less hazardous. Everyone is a little bit more relaxed. It’s blissful.

July 14th...

I’m not saying that Parisians make the rest of the year entirely miserable. They run the cheese shops, butchers, coffee shops, and chocolatiers that are currently closed that I have learned to live without, but that I very much appreciate. And they sit in the classrooms that I teach – so I kind of need them. No complaints on my part when they return in September.

But for a few weeks each summer, I now soak it up willingly. The airy, breezy feeling of the city – be it in the rain or sweltering heat – is something that only comes in August when locals aren’t milling about. It almost makes me not want to go away for vacation…

The hangers-on...

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