To French people, la rentrée means much more than just “back to school”. One of the reasons is that in France (as much as in my country, Greece), August turns otherwise busy cities to ghost towns. August is the vacation month and everyone deserves vacation time. If you have a shop you close it and go to the beach. Naturally, all those people that go away, come back in September. So there you have it, la rentrée.
It’s been about 13 years since my last “rentrée” and I’ve always loved this feeling. Even way back in the past, when I didn’t truly enjoy school, I always loved the feeling of going back to it. This new chapter, full of possibility and promises that I’d study harder and make more new friends (promises I knew I wouldn’t keep). And of course, stationery shopping… this must have been my favorite part of September! New notebooks, new pens, erasers, pencil sharpeners and a new set of differently shaped rulers that never (ever!) got used. Since 2007 Septembers had been different for me, and I strongly felt I wanted more of that feeling that I somehow forced myself out of. But I always got a little something, pretending the back to school season applied to me too. Maybe this was the year for a new backpack, non?
My first back to school in a while
This year though there are many reasons for me to legitimately get this feeling back. It’s the first time my son goes back to school and oh, I anticipated that moment! As much as I adore him, I truly missed some alone time and a few moments of silence at home (without the guild of the screen time!). Throughout the summer and especially when we were in the city, we had fun together going for early morning walks, spending time in parks and playgrounds, watching movies and painting rocks and pinecones. I tried my best to keep him entertained, I didn’t want him to get bored. But eventually, I did. Of course, I watched my fair share of YouTube videos and even did some work, but I really missed some time alone, moments that I didn’t have to talk, to answer questions, to tell anyone what to do. And now my time is coming!
Living la rentrée
I use the term la rentrée to talk about returning to school because as you might know I’m a huge francophile, I love all things French, and also, studying French influences the way I think about some words and I can’t help but using some terms here and there. La rentrée means much more to French people than just the beginning of school after summer. It’s a whole vibe, a whole preparation. One of the reasons that la rentrée applies to you, even if you (or your children) don’t go back to school is how silent August is. In France (as much as in my country, Greece), August turns otherwise busy cities to ghost towns and fills any beach of the country with locals and tourists. August is the vacation month. People go to on vacation, so the cities are empty, there are no clients to sell baguettes to, so the boulangeries close, because the owners are people too, and in August people go to on vacation.
It makes sense for all those people that go away to come back in early September because a. Schools begin and b. The weather won’t be beach appropriate for too long. So every French student, parent, or boulanger, get to experience their own personal rentrée, which marks a new beginning, new season, new energy flow.
Until next time, take care.
P.S. You might also like this video of mine, about Why we chose to send our kid to a French School.
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