Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Scarf

A well stocked French wardrobe will contain at least a dozen scarves. Frenchwomen own silk scarves, wool scarves, exotic scarves from Morocco, fringy scarves from Barcelona, wool scarves from England, flimsy lace scarves....and on and on. It is not only a important accessory (allowing you to dress up or dress down an outfit) it is a question of health. Everyone here firmly believes that having your neck skin exposed is a surefire way to get sick.

I have, for the most part, adapted my wardrobe to accomodate this trend. In part, because I happen to love scarves and in part, because I live in fear of being scolded by the French (more on that another time). This trend however went to new heights today when I walked by my local Princess Tam Tam shop. See left.

A bikini and a scarf?! Come on now.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The French Calendar

I find the French population to be incredibly in sync. If you were take a peek at your average Parisian's ical I have a feeling that it would be almost idendical to their neighbor's ical. This phenomenon is most apparent in the month of August when the entire population in Paris leaves for their summer vacation.

For those unfamiliar with the French annual schedule I will break it down for you.

January: Ski vacations and les Soldes. French merchants are only aloud to put their inventory on sale twice a year, in January and in July.

February: Busy working. Valentine's day is barely recognized.

March: Working.....yes....the French all have a minimum of 5 weeks of paid vacation per year but they do work hard especially in the Springtime.

April: Still working. Somewhere in here their is a school holiday.

May: Working when not enjoying one of the three (THREE!!) national holidays this month. This year was a perfect storm of May holidays, they all landed near the weekend which prompted most people to faire le pont or make the bridge. For example, May 1st is a holiday and were it to land on a Tuesday I can guarantee you that no one will be at work on Monday because they will have 'made the bridge' and turned this one day off in to a 4 day weekend extravaganza.

June: Very busy working because oh la la it is almost vacation season and soon we won't be able to order any more ink, speak to our clients or repair our delivery truck.

July: First wave of Parisians leave the city. Remaining Parisians panic as they try to cram in the last of their work before the tsunami wave of workers leave the city of lights for their country residences or campsites. Second round of Soldes! Summer clothing blow out for those headed on vacation and to make room for the fall collection they will buy when they get back from vacation.

August: Entire population of Paris is replaced by the population of Rome. Most of Paris can be found lined up like sausages along the coastlines of the Hexagon.

September: La rentrée. School beings. Workers begrudgingly return to work.

October: The strike season begins! In September workers are overwhelmed with catch up on projects put on hold by vacation season. By the time October arrives they are lusting after their long summer vacation and have enough free time at work to start organizing les grèves or strikes that block the streets, paralyze the rails and shut down schools.

November: Working. I try to presuade Parisians to embrace Thanksgiving.

December: Holiday time! Use up remaining 2 weeks of paid leave from work plus a few more recoup days (when you surpass the 35 hour work week limit you get to add up those extra hours and cash them in for vacation time at a later date)! Ski vacations!