La 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 La Rentrée, this 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 the Anglo- Saxon back to school season because it applies to work, politics and life in general.
La Rentrée signals the end of the long holiday which some of us greet with a sigh of relief because with playtime over, day to day life can continue – businesses will reopen, shops will be spruced up, with their owners hopefully energized.
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. Of course we are all hoping for fewer demonstrations, but France is one of the most strike prone nations and street demos play an important part of political life
One new Government policy concerns the 12,000 pupils and students who returned to school on Tuesday. The new Government has decided that primary school classes should end one hour earlier, at 3.30 but that children should remain in school to do their homework.
Not all schools have welcomed this idea saying it will take time and more money to organize. The President has also promised to increase the number of teaching posts throughout the country.
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.