In French, August is translated to aout. Hmmm, maybe that is A OUT… short for All Out. As in All Out of Paris. Because everyone is…
I discovered this last year and blogged about it then. But it’s still strange. Up and down the streets, shops are closed with their little signs posted with the summer fermatures. Shops, restaurants, cafes, and boulangeries closed. Picard Surgeles stays open in aout but does close for two hours at lunch time on weekdays.
So think about it. Fewer people. Everyone is off to the provinces. So that means less traffic on the roads and fewer riders on public transport.
Now I have a better understanding why the bus schedules show the time breakdown by Sept though June, then July and August together, and then holidays. The buses do not run as frequently during these two summer months. OK. Fewer people – let’s run fewer buses- and maybe accommodate our drivers who want to be gone out of Paris at that time too.
But fewer people wreak havoc on the bus traveler – it’s not just a bus every 12 minutes instead of the usual every 10. No. Because there are fewer riders, there are fewer people at the stops. So the buses end up making their route faster. Think about it. Bus A leaves at 9:00. Bus B leaves at 9:12. Bus A stops to pick people up. Bus B follows. But because Bus A has picked up the people, it is running at a usual pace. Yet Bus B gets to the stop and there is no one there. Riders were just picked up and there are fewer riders. So Bus B sails along and eventually catches up to Bus A and then you have Bus A arriving at the stop and Bus B, instead of being 12 minutes behind, it’s maybe 2 minutes behind. Which means that Bus C which should be leaving 24 minutes behind Bus A (and 12 behind Bus B), it won’t make it to the stop 12 minutes after Bus B, it will be closer to 22 minutes after Bus B because Bus B hasn’t had to stop as often as it normally does..
Really, that does work out.
I told you about the labor for the Markets in the last blog. So I went to the marche Sunday. And it’s almost empty. Same labor for 60-70% fewer vendors. Maybe 3 vegetable vendors. Lots of clothes, lots of towels and sundries. But pretty empty. Again, it’s aout. But I did try some bread from the market. I usually go to the boulangerie but it is of course closed. Pretty good bread!
But what about tourists, you ask? Yes, they are certainly here. Nothing like last August when I went down to the parvis of Notre Dame (parvis is the public area in front of the cathedral.) Last year it was packed. But this is the first summer after the attacks and tourism is still down. At my café near the Louvre, the buses still drop off their tourists, but far less. And most are Chinese. I know this because I was with my very interesting new American friend, Mary, who had lived in Hong Kong and speaks Mandarin. She identified the language for me. I am somewhat in awe of her – she moved to Hong Kong when she was 19. Far braver than me. Paris does have interesting residents.