Why the French take time off from work every August – and what it means for travelers

But as my brother and I updated each other on our progress, we quickly realized how much busier they were than we were: exhibitions, plays, bars, new restaurants for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. While Paris was half asleep, London finally got sunny and was completely covered in electric wires.

“I've lived in Paris for more than six years, but as a Londoner I always feel a little uneasy about the way the city comes to a standstill in August,” agrees author Hannah Meltzer, noting that across the Channel I don't think a similar escape is possible.

“For me, London is a vibrant city, both socially and economically, and I don't think it makes sense to take a break from that hustle and bustle for a few weeks. What should we Londoners do with ourselves? You have no idea.”

But Parisians wouldn't have it any other way. “There's nothing like vacationing when your city is shut down,” says local restaurant critic Christina Meyer. “You don't miss anything just because there's nothing going on, so you can relax properly and stop checking your emails. How to watch a movie on a Friday night without worrying about boredom during the coronavirus pandemic Do you know if you can watch it? It's like that for a month.”

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