Thursday, 18 September 2014
This is a part of French culture I think is absolutely briliant. In the UK we have Back to School, but that's all it is, the kids going back to school. We buy new uniforms and shoes and school bags but the French equivalent is a national news worthy event. It's back to reality for everyone. We all know France comes to a complete halt during August. A lot of businesses still close for the whole month. Boulangeries, Tabacs, boutiques all close for at least two weeks, they don't get someone in to run the place whilst they're on holiday, no they shut and bugger anyone who fancies a baguette. In fact this got to be such a problem that in 2012 a "rappel à l'ordre" (call to order) was issued by the governement reminding the boulangers that the law states that at least one boulangerie remain open at a time during July & August within a 8km radius! Meaning that in Paris alone 600 boulangeries were forced to stay open! And can you believe this law was issued for the first time in 1790! The French pack up their cars, sit for hours on gridlocked autoroutes and head off to one of the 11000 camp sites in France!
And these camp sites are amazing. In fact I'm thinking of putting a deposit down on this little baby in Brittany for next summer
Anyway, the French come back and it's back to work, back to school, back to reality!
Also in France, the schools don't provide even the minimum of school supplies such as exercise books nor paper! The school issues a list during the summer holidays and so the "fournitures scolaires" fill up all the big supermarkets and the battle of the cheapest starts. Adverts every two minutes, catalogues in the letter box, billboards everywhere!
This is obviously a very costly time, but being the ever socialist country, the benefits agency issues an average of 395€ to most families for each child to cover the costs. Phew!
This year was my daughter's first rentrée. Yes Tiana is at school! She absolutely loves it. For the moment she's an only child so obviously being with 24 other kids all day is much more fun than being at home with Mum! She's up every morning at 7am demanding to go and see Madame! Try explaining to a 3 year old that the school doesn't open until 8.20am is my hardest task at the moment.
Her first day, we didn't even get a chance to take a decent photo. She walked in the classroom like she owned the place and said to us "ok you go now!" I much prefer that than the other kids who were screaming and clinging onto their parents legs! Tiana is also the last out when I pick her up, on most days her teacher has to call her at least three times before she'll agree to leave! Do I feel unloved? Hell no! Freedom! She's happy and I get to make the most of her when she's here, instead of dealing with boredom and the attention span of a knat! In fact she's settled in so well that as from next month she'll be staying at school for her lunch and going to after school club til 5pm!
This year is also mine and my partner's first back to school for me in 10 years and him in 20! My degree starts on the 4th of October and his Electrician Apprenticeship started today. It also means that he'll be away from Monday to Friday every week for a year, but that means that weekends will now be meaningful family time, rather than all of us growling at each other because we see each other all day every day!! Exciting times and a very Bonne Rentrée à Tout le Monde!