Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Paris from a female expat's point of view

“The mood in August is entirely different than the rest of the year. Given over to the mercy of happy, badly dressed tourists, the city becomes gentler, freer, less imperious. Kids from the suburbs, somehow kept at bay by the Parisians for the rest of the year, feel permitted to spill over onto her elegant streets on August nights; the footbridges are alive with bad bongo players, amateur jugglers and other unabashedly uncool samples of French youth [lol]. Those Parisians who do stay behind in August revel in the luxe calme et volupté of the slacking city, and the place becomes more erotically charged than ever. I recently learnt of the existence of August brothels. Open Monday to Friday from 1 to 21 August, they cater specifically to husbands whose wives and children have left for the country or seaside. These husbands stay and work in Paris in the week and then take the train to join their families on Friday nights. To even things out, the Friday-night trains are called Les Trains des Cocus (the cuckolds’ trains), packed as they are with men whose wives have been having it away all week with their children’s tennis instructors.”

I'm reading Lucy Wadham's The Secret Life of France, which I found up at Daunt Books in London. It's alternately making me feel relieved that, it's not just me, but there are many French practices and rituals that are foreign and mysterious to me and this is just the way it and they are, and it's freaking me out.

They are gross generalizations, of course, but quite valid, coming from a smart woman who has lived in France for 25 years. I'm reading it as a replacement to Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong in terms of a cultural immersion. What do you think about those August brothels??


  1. I don't think much of them at all :(

  2. Must add this to my list of books to read. Is the weather still awful? I clearly remember this time last year it was in the mid 30s and SO humid! I have spent the past week looking for jobs in Paris, I need to get back!
    PS your macaron tasting looked amazing, very jalouse!

  3. I'd like to read that too. And yes, my former in-laws are some of the uncouth August tourists. My husband won't even think of visitng Paris in August.

  4. What hilarious observations. :-) This would make good reading for sure. :-)

  5. I really want to read that book now... must be so interesting and mysterious indeed!

  6. Ladies, I do think it's a must-read. I just stumbled upon it in London - haven't heard much about it or her down here in Paris, but she has razor-sharp insights and great Brit wit. I definitely recommend it.

    Lana, how exciting about the Parisian job search! Keep me posted! And thank you for validating my memories. I keep insisting that last summer was long and hot and nobody agrees. I woke up this morning for a Velib ride and had to abort 10 minutes in because of the rain. Yes, still crap. :(

  7. This books looks very interesting and sure to be an enjoyable read based on the excerpt you shared. I remember being over there in July and even then I was told there were many tourists and that I was not seeing the true Paris.

    I have to say, thank you endlessly for all of your comments, visits and kindness on my blog. I apologize for not stopping by as I didn't know this was your blog. Now that I do, I will be sure to be more frequent. I also wanted to let you know that I have included your comment on "Effortless Style" in my newsletter that will be coming out tomorrow. It will also include a link to your blog.

    On that note, I would love for you to participate in my reader's spotlight for the newsletter. If you are interested, let me know and I will email you the questions.

    Have a wonderful day. =)

  8. Just stumbled across your blog today, and I really enjoy it. The title of this entry stood out to me but I'm looking forward to dipping into the archives and discovering more of the city I find myself in. I must confess I was less shocked by the idea of August brothels than I think one should be. The French seem to have me desensitised to such things already! I will definitely be seeking out the books you mentioned.