The end of August is here, which means that la rentrée is imminent. This term, which literally means ‘the return’, is mainly used to refer to the start of the school or academic year, and features heavily on TV ads from at least mid-August.  But la rentrée isn’t just about school; since a number of people take a whole month’s holiday off in August, so it can also mean going back to work after the long break.

St Martin de Valamas

Traditionally, families in France would take either July or August off to go on holiday (often to a camping site with their motor home), earning them the nickname of either juilletistes or aoûtiens (I prefer the latter which makes me think of a Martian for some reason…) Nowadays not many can afford to go away for that long, but people still often take 2-3 weeks and/or work from home some of the rest of the time. This means certain weekends of the year, especially around 1st and 15th August, are known as ‘black days’ on the motorways, with hundreds of kilometres of solid traffic jams down the length of the country. It still slightly puzzles me why people don’t try harder to avoid this, but it’s not helped by the fact that a) holiday rentals always start on Saturday, and b) France is either the destination, or en route to the destination, of most European holidaymakers.

Summit of Mont MezencSo, I’ve been continuing my stages in the speech therapy practice with hardly anyone around, except my supervisor, who doesn’t take much time off in the summer. Apart from the 10 days we took off to drive down to the Ardèche region for some walking (herewith a few pictures for illustration). We spent a week in a self-catering gite owned by the village mairie (these types of rentals are probably the best value there is to be found) and then a few nights in bed and breakfast, mostly spent at the Auberge Chanéac, where Mr Chanéac produces amazingly delicious 3 course meals with only local produce as part of the half board rate at 55€ per person.

St Jeure d'Andaure