The rentrée in France is an annual ritual that hits the nation around the end of August and continues until at least mid September.
There’s no real translation for this word, no one word to convey the real significance of the rentrée and you have to live here to truly understand this ritual.
The rentrée is an established French tradition, meaning a return after a period of inactivity, a re-entry if you like. It means that the 2 month holiday break is over so it’s back to school for the kids. But there’s more to this than just the Anglo- Saxon 'back to school' season because it applies to work, politics and life in general.
Few nations have such long summer holidays as the French – four to six weeks or so when everything is closed, kids are on holiday and the population has either gone to be beach, their country homes or the cooler mountain regions.
Not only is there rentrée de classe, rentré scolaire and rentré Universitaire for the various teaching establishments but politicians also herald in a new political season; this is called rentrée politique when the President and his ministers come back ready to surprise the nation with their new policies.
For many of us, it’s a new beginning, a promise to improve, a time to enroll in new classes, start new activities. And why not?
In Paris, they’re already suffering from the rentrée blues; girlie magazines are running stories on how to de-stress and make sure their readers stick to their rentrée resolutions.
But we in the South are still hanging on; the weather is fabulous, the tourists have gone and with them the long queues at the boulangeries. It’s the vendange season in Provence; a time for sunshine and bringing in the grapes-- one of our busiest times.
No time for rentrée blues here.
Bonne rentrée a tout le monde.