The rentrée is well and truly with us.
There’s no escape.
It’s back to school, work and routine. Gone are the long lazy summer days of July and August.
Yet, as well as being all about ‘returning’, the rentrée is also a new start or beginning. Aside from holidays, the French love nothing better than making rentrée resolutions. Here are just a couple to help you understand this fully French phenomenon.
1.) I must keep the summer zen
It’s a well-known fact that Parisians are more likeable in summer. A little sunshine is enough to brighten up anyone’s mood, but in Paris this takes on drastic dimensions. The old uninterested bonjour is suddenly replaced by a warm smile and a friendly ‘Bonjour, comment ça va, il fait beau, non?’ (or similar hello-how-are-you-the-weather-is-lovely-isn’t-it? variation).
Come September with the doom and glooming of actually having to work again, things quickly slide back to normal. Even the most valiant attempts to retain a little of this sunny attitude seem doomed. But, that’s what these kinds of resolutions are about, right?
2.) I must keep complaining to a minimum
The French, especially the Parisians, are world famous complainers. And, with good reason. The complaint is an art form. Yet, at the rentrée many well intentioned français are genuinely convinced that they will start to appreciate the little things, make the most of what they have etc. etc.
Some succeed, many fail. At best, the complaining is reduced to cover the bare essentials (unemployment, the incompetence of M. Hollande, the price of housing, the weather, chewing gum on metro seats and the like).
3.) I must get back into (strike) action
The summer was calm, uneventful, even relaxing. Now it’s time to inject a bit of action. You might mistakenly believe that this would involve getting involved in new work projects, doing a little overtime. But no. Just as things start to swing back after the summer, they stop again. And the striking starts. It is commonly known that September is the month par excellence to organise a nice metro-stopping strike. With grievances harboured over the long summer, now is the time to speak out.
4.) I must become a better person
This may sounds rather vague. And it is. But the rentrée is usually when the French decide to learn a new language, start volunteering or signing up (and actually going) to a gym. Be warned, this involves a far bit forwarded planning as eager beavers get their names on the list even before the summer begins!
The novelty of these new habits and activities inevitably wears off within a few weeks. It’s back to the old you for another year. Yet that’s all part of the fun. Why not try making your own impossible resolutions?