Today’s French phrase of the week is: fermeture exceptionnelle. It’s a phrase that I learned early on during our time in France often to my frustration.
When we use the word “exceptional” in English, we are most likely using it to talk about something really good. As in, “wow, that meal was really exceptional!” But in French, it means the literal concept of something out of the ordinary. Hence, I would run into a sign on the door while trying to accomplish my daily errands of a fermeture exceptionnelle - as in, for whatever the reason, we’re not usually closed now but the doors are closed at the moment.
Then August rolled around, and I got an even bigger surprise. It turns out that people in France (and throughout Europe, really) take a month-long vacation in the summer. It usually falls over the month of August, though some take time off in July. Though taking an entire month-long chunk of time off all at once was odd coming from an American perspective, that wasn’t the shocker. The thing that I was unprepared for was that everyone leaves on a mass exodus from Paris.
This means that essential places are still open (supermarkets, cafes, and such) but many smaller businesses hang up a sign on their door, stating the dates they are closed -- which usually is 3-4 week span. This blew me away! I couldn’t believe that shops wouldn’t stagger vacation time for employees so that the store could still make money during the summer.
It’s still hard for the opportunistic American in me to grasp, but on the other hand, I appreciate the way people here approach life. There is value in taking time off, spending time with family, and rejuvenating mind and body. And maybe it’s worth more to sacrifice some business for a month in order that all employees can have that time off.
So all that to say that I’m taking a lesson from the French, and posting my own fermeture exceptionnelle on my blog. (If you just come by, I’ll fill you in quick - I’ve lived in Paris for three years and am about to move to NYC. Before that though, we’re going on a farewell “Tour de France” trip for the month of May.) I’ve decided to completely disconnect and fully be present on our grand trip through France. That means I’m not going to be blogging, or obsessing over social media. I’m going to follow the lead of the French, and use my month-long vacation to rejuvenate and just enjoy every last moment I have left in France.
BUT...I will still be active on Instagram! I usually don’t post photos in real time as I travel, but this time I will. So if you want to follow along on our Tour de France, follow me @SimplySaraTravel for live updates! And if you’re Instagram-less (looking at you, Mom!), you can view my feed on the sidebar. Alternatively, you can go to my Instagram page on the web to check out my entire photo gallery.