HOW TO SURVIVE IN FRANCE DURING SUMMER VACATIONS
September 2, 2013 10 Comments
“Babies don’t need a vacation but I still see them at the beach … it pisses me off. I’ll go over to a little baby and say “What are you doing here ? You haven’t worked a day in your life.”
America’s greatest living comedian, Steven Wright.
France is the most visited tourist location in the world, with most visitors coming in the summer months, and particularly in August. As the entire population of 66 million French residents also take their holidays in the month of August, it does result in some challenges for those that are foolhardy enough to join the hordes.
For those who have decided to come here anyway, here are some challenges of which one needs to be aware to survive a summer in France.
Dutch Caravans … Every Dutch person over the age of 14 owns a mobile home or caravan, and in the summer holiday months they all drive south through Belgium to France. When they arrive here they divide their time between sunbathing naked on any piece of vacant, unshaded land, and driving in large convoys seeking out fee-free places to stop for the night. These massive convoys are generally made up of all the residents of an entire Dutch village or of all the dwellers from a suburb of a major city.
Survival tip … if you must drive in France in August, use only the Peages, which are motorways where you actually have to pay to be able to drive on them, as most Dutch prefer not to. If you are on a free Route Nationale and do have the misfortune to come up behind a large Dutch convoy just pull over and take your vacation on that spot, as Dutch caravanners have adopted the slogan made famous at the Battle of Verdun in World War I which is “They shall not pass”.
Parisians … Residents of our capitol city have built a reputation for being a rude and pushy people, second only to New Yorkers. However, a Parisian on summer vacations can make a New Yorker seem like a Quaker at a Buddhist retreat by comparison. You must beware all cars with license plates that have department numbers 75, 92, 93 or 94 as there is a really good chance that they will try to force you off the road just to release all the aggression that they have built up since their last summer break.
Survival tip … Go to Paris for the summer holidays as it is an even more wonderful city when the Parisians are not there. The few restaurants, museums and art galleries that do stay open are not crowded and are mainly being frequented by foreign tourists who tend to be on their best behaviour, although this is not true if they are backpackers from Australia, NZ or South Africa.
North Africans … On the last weekend of July all North African families who are living in Europe pack up their entire households into large boxes, strap them to the roofs of their cars and head for one of the ports in Italy, France or Spain, where they can catch a car ferry to North Africa to vacation and visit their families. The challenge for them is to squeeze as many people as possible into each car, to get as much baggage on to their car roof as the laws of physics will allow and to try and get from their home to the ferry terminal stopping only for fuel. As many of them are driving to southern Spain from as far away as the Nordic countries, this can involve driving up to 30 hours without sleep.
Survival tip … If you see a car coming towards you that is crammed full of people and which has a load tied to the roof of the car that is larger than the car itself, usually under a blue tarpaulin held in place with some old tyres, you should drive your car into the nearest telegraph pole thus sustaining less damage than the inevitable encounter.
Russian tourists … Russians have discovered the joy of visiting other countries where suitcases full of US Dollars are welcomed, and where there are restaurants other than “Yelke Pelke”. You should however never get between a large Russian and a food buffet. Many Russian tourists feel that they need to make up for having lived through the food shortages after the war, so they will trample anyone that gets in their way when they are barrelling towards a large serving plate of prawns or pickled beetroot. They are recognisable because they only wear globally recognisable fashion items, but always with the designer labels showing. The Russian men all have bushy eyebrows, at least 2 shadowing security guys, gold Rolex watches, and hairy chests covered in gold chains and medallions a la 1960s disco-ites. The women are all small, blonde and beautiful, and are less than half the age of the men they accompany, quite often with an IQ that matches their age.
Survival tip … Under no circumstances should you attempt to eat in any restaurant in any French resort that is frequented by Russian tourists in August, such as Cannes, Nice or St. Tropez. If you must visit these resorts you should stick to only eating room service meals.
Chinese chateaux buyers … Every mainland Chinese resident is in the process of trying to buy a wine chateau in France, and they are continually travelling around the country in Mercedes 4x4s armed with an interpreter and looking out for a bargain. As there are approximately 1.4 billion Chinese and significantly fewer chateaux available for sale, it can make for some frustrations. This “sell the country to the Chinese” strategy is all encouraged by President Hollande’s government, as it may help to solve the dilemma of what to do with the extra 210,000 public sector jobs he has created in the last year, if only they could all speak Mandarin, and knew something about wine.
Survival tip … Do not consider buying any of the for-sale chateaux in France, as they have all been designated as being for Chinese buyers only, except for mine which is available to all nationalities, with payment accepted in all currencies.
I hope that I have helped with any plans that you may have to visit France in summer. As English comedienne Jenny Eclair said “The only way to go on holiday is with your expectations at ground level. Convince yourself before you go that the weather’s going to be dreadful, the roads jammed, and that there will be nylon sheets on every bed. You’ll then be pleasantly surprised.” Consider yourself warned !