Rentrée Time

Parisot - autumn view

Autumn view

Here we are in September again. How did that happen? Surely Easter was only last week. Actually, I don’t mind. This is my favourite month of the year, perhaps because I was born in September (cards and presents welcome). We have found it to be one of the most pleasant months here weather-wise. An early morning nip in the air is often followed by mellow, even hot, sunshine, but the heat has lost the fierceness of high summer. For many people, September spells la Rentrée, a particularly French institution.

Back to school

No doubt many French children don’t welcome September, following two months of freedom. Tomorrow (3rd September) is la rentrée scolaire (back to school). Even during the summer holidays, however, you couldn’t get away from the lurking phantom of school. Ever since the second week in July, the supermarkets have been announcing “La Rentrée” and stocking everything you need from cartables (satchels) to stylos (pens). It’s a bit like shops in the UK stocking Christmas cards in October.

Rentrée politique

Not only children and people with jobs are ruled by la rentrée. There’s also a rentrée politique, when a new parliamentary session begins. The Président, Premier Ministre and deputés (MPs) pack away their flip-flops and swimwear for another year to get back to work, usually a week or so before the schools.

Every year, la rentrée politique is preceded by the political parties’ universités d’été, or party conferences, when party members and activists get together to discuss their policies and projects for the forthcoming year. This year’s rentrée politique was marked by the not-so-surprise resignation of Nicolas Hulot, the environment minister. Another agenda item to add to those already awaiting Emmanuel Macron 16 months into his presidency.

Rhythm of the year

Café at Limogne on market day

Café at Limogne on market day

La rentrée is when things return to normal. The holidays are over, but if life were one long vacation it would probably pall after a while. Come September, the markets empty of tourists, parking spaces become available again, the supermarket no longer appears to have been invaded by a plague of locusts and the volume of traffic eases. But, horror of horrors, the quincaillerie (hardware store) in our village closes for the whole month for congés annuels (holidays). If we want a washer or a tube of mastic we have to go to Villefranche.

There’s also a certain poignancy in the air, since it means that summer is drawing to a close, but I like the varying seasons with their promise of changing activities and different produce.

autumn-colours-at-la-lune

Autumn colours to come

More than anything, la rentrée is one of the stepping stones in the current of French life. The next one is Toussaint (1st November), followed by Noël and the Nouvel An. These little islands punctuate the rhythm of the seasons. Sometimes they have a religious origin, sometimes they mark an historical event, like le Quatorze Juillet. This is something you come to know and look forward to if you’ve lived here for any length of time.

You might also like:

Autumn Colours
Walking the Viaur Valley

Copyright © 2018 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved

About nessafrance

We moved to an 18th-century farmhouse in SW France in 1997. I'm fascinated by French history, rural traditions and customs. I also write historical novels and short stories.
This entry was posted in Customs, French life and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Rentrée Time

  1. Osyth says:

    A fellow September baby! I’ve always put my love of this month down to the fact that it is my birth month too. And love it I do. France has such a rhythm to it’s calendar and that I love too. This is a wonderful reminder of the good bits and the bad (the baker in Champs and one of the butchers takes congés annuels in September too – a fact that used to bring some of the ladies of the village to their knees in despair and they would be heard making sympathetic noises about how tired Didier or Nicholas are at the end of a busy summer but you could feel the edge to their voices as they faced a month with depot du pain and no choice of where to by their sausages!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • nessafrance says:

      Yes, there’s sometimes a little inflexibility about these rhythms. In our village, when the boulangerie that normally opens on a Monday is en congés, there is no bread to be had. The other one stays resolutely shut.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I too like autumn. The sting has gone from the sun and its almost as if the land gives a sigh and starts to settle into its sleep routine. We haven’t had the mists yet but the mellow fruitfulness is upon us in all its colourful glory. Don’t know when your birthday is exactly but happy birthday. Make it memorable 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • nessafrance says:

      I like the fact that one can move around outside and work. La canicule confines one to barracks. We try to make the most of this time of year. Thank you for your birthday wishes. I rather wish they came around less regularly these days. To paraphrase Andrew Marvell, though we cannot make our sun stand still, yet we will make him run.

      Like

  3. david terry says:

    Dear Nessa,
    I like your writings. You’re a fine chronicler. For reasons I needn’t explain, I read this most recent posting of yours and wondered if you knew this poem. you should……

    “My heart, being hungry, feeds on food
    The fat of heart despise.
    Beauty where beauty never stood,
    And sweet where no sweet lies
    I gather to my querulous need,
    Having a growing heart to feed.

    It may be, when my heart is dull,
    Having attained its girth,
    I shall not find so beautiful
    The meagre shapes of earth,
    Nor linger in the rain to mark
    The smell of tansy through the dark.”

    -Edna St. Vincent Millay

    admiringly,

    David Terry
    Quail Roost Farm
    Rougemont, Nc
    USA

    Liked by 1 person

    • nessafrance says:

      Hello, David, and thank you for your kind comments. The poem seems familiar, so I think I must have read it years ago, unless I’m thinking of another one that expresses similar sentiments. It is indeed the small, apparently insignificant, things that appeal to me; the fine details that can so often be passed by.

      I just love the name of your farm!

      Amitiés.

      Liked by 1 person

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