1. Everything closes in August. As a newbie you might ask, “Pourquoi?” and have the reply, “Because it’s August.” Try countering this with the observation that August happens literally everywhere without closing an entire nation and then you will be introduced to “C’est comme ça” as the ultimate argument ender.
2. But your favourite boulangerie seems to be closed longer than anything else. By September you’re basically sitting on the doorstep, rocking back-and-forth, money clutched in your hand, muttering “une baguette, s’il vous plait, madame” to no one.
3. And if you do get sick on August you can’t see your usual doctor, so end up getting an appointment with the only doctor available, and quickly realise that (s)he’s an antibiotics-dispensing law-suit-waiting-to-happen.
4. Definitely don’t have a baby due in August. That’s CRAZY-bad timing. (I did.)
5. On the upside, since no one is going to work you can finally get a seat on the train!
6. Until they start running fewer trains and then you’re back to standing again 🙁
7. It’s so hot outside that you have to keep your shutters closed all day, then experience the irony of being in darkness when it’s super bright outside.
8. You step outside and are hit by a wall of heat like when you get off an aeroplane at your holiday destination. Except you live here and don’t have a swimming pool, an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet or a minibar.
9. You take your kids to the park then realise they can’t play on any of les jeux because everything’s so hot you could probably fry an egg on them.
10. You remember that brumisateurs are genius inventions and you can’t contemplate doing a long car journey without one.
11. Everyone starts having barbecues. You smell them everywhere and they either make you very hungry (so much deliciousness) or very angry (‘cos it’s your neighbours and the smell goes right in your apartment).
12. And rosé-drinking season begins – hubba hubba!
13. Which means that supermarkets start selling bottles at 2 for the price of 1. So it would kinda be rude not to take them up on their offer…
14. The TV news start doing silly reports from holiday destinations which inevitably includes a shot of a topless woman.
15. And the TV weather starts reporting the sea temperature, AKA is the most exotic thing ever.
16. Everyone suddenly gets better looking. The streets are filled with total hotties in not much clothes. You’re all, “Where were you hiding all winter, pretty people? Were you all busy being in music videos?”
17. And you get serious dress envy walking down the street. Where do French women get work-appropriate summer dresses? I NEED to know.
18. Paris Plage happens! It’s a cute way of giving a taste of a better life to people trapped in an sweaty city. Like when Clarice offers Hannibal Lector the chance of holidaying on an abandoned animal-testing island in Silence of the Lambs. We know it’s not St Tropez but it’s better than nothing.
19. The strikes stop at last! Because, you know, everyone’s on holiday so there’s no one around to enrage.
20. Except for air traffic controllers, baggage handlers and employees of Air France who increase the strikes. Like expert torturers, they know how to hit where it hurts.
21. Terrasses become as popular and packed as lifeboats on a sinking ship.
22. As do all the parks.
23. Basically anywhere outdoors with a bench, a pigeon, and a view of a tree is summer-time picnic gold.
24. Tourists, much like grey squirrels, force out the native inhabitants and run wild.
25. As do brides doing photo shoots on Parisian bridges.
26. You find yourself wondering, “Where are all the French people?” The answer is that they are stuck in a traffic jam on the motorway en route to another part of France.
But in spite of the heat, the suspension of normal life, the changing populations, you realise that summer in France is the greatest and there’s nowhere you’d rather be.