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5 Ways to enjoy summer like a Parisian


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Cerith Gardiner - published on 07/10/20

With so many flights canceled, try bringing a little French flair to your own balmy days.

Summer in Paris is a special occasion. Many residents head to second homes on the coast or in the mountains, or they visit loved ones far from the stresses of big city living, so the French capital is pretty empty for the whole of the month of August. The streets are calm and the usual hustle and bustle takes a back seat as Parisians cherish the beauty of the city and the warm summer days.

Life becomes so relaxed in the City of Lights that a few die-hard Parisians prefer to enjoy a staycation than head off on a summer holiday. What makes it so wonderful, you may ask? Well, take a look at these summer Parisian habits and you’ll see that not only are they simple, but many can be emulated at home — even when you don’t live in Paris.

1. Dressing for the season

Parisians are known for their style, but during hot summer months, when they’re melting in the heat, they still manage to pull it off. And it’s really down to one thing: simplicity. From colors to fabrics, the French keep it season-appropriate with cool natural fabrics and lighter shades with simple designs. One thing the French don’t do is wear revealing clothes — especially in the city — when the temperatures soar. The Les Tropéziennes sandal is a favorite of many French women, and makes life more comfortable and practical to get around. Lots of Parisians also eschew make-up and complicated up-dos, just pulling their hair into a messy bun. It’s actually impressive to see just how this simple look makes life less complicated — just what you need in sweltering heat.

2. Slowing down

With temperatures frequently rising above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, life definitely goes at a slower pace. Those still at work take a longer lunch — two hours is quite common at this time of year — and on the way home probably meet up with friends who’ve also stayed behind in Paris to enjoy a drink on one of the city’s many terraces. Time is taken to enjoy each other’s company and breathe in the summer air — even if it can be a little polluted.

3. Different expectations

One of the many summer enjoyments for Parisians is a result of a change in expectations. In the cooler months people make more of an effort when dining with friends, but summer is a time when friends can gather at a park at a moment’s notice to have a makeshift picnic consisting of a baguette, cheeses, a “saucisson” or two, some summer fruits and the ubiquitous bottle of rosé — or you could try the French version of lemonade, the “citron pressé.” A freshly squeezed lemon or two is served in a glass, offered with a pitcher of water and a few sugar cubes for you to choose just how bitter you can handle it. Or if you like a refreshing mint flavor you could try the “diabolo menthe,” which is a mint cordial served with cold lemonade and a slice of lemon.

If you try this with friends be sure to get hold of the famous French game of “petanque” that is one of the most relaxing sports you could ever indulge in. As you hear the sound of boules slowly clanking, you’ll realize the importance of just being together.

4. Appreciating the small things

As life drastically slows down in the capital, it gives people a chance to really appreciate life’s little beauties — just as the French saint Thérèse de Lisieux would advocate. Whether it’s noticing impressive architecture in less-crowded streets, or enjoying the vegetation growing from balconies in apartment blocks or in the city’s many parks, it’s a time of year when people literally stop to smell the roses.

5. Indulging in favorite leisure activities

The French are known for their rich culture, and it’s true you’ll notice more people with a paperback book in hand when they’re walking down the street, sitting in a café or lounging in the park. They’ll also take the opportunity to cool down and indulge in a bit of culture in the city’s many galleries and museums. Others might take the time to walk through Paris and appreciate the diverse monuments and buildings and the more energetic might take part in a little dancing in makeshift dance groups that crop up here and there.

Eve Lavalliere

Read more:
How to make peace with past mistakes: Lessons from a glamorous French actress

family picnic

Read more:
4 Summer budget tips to help you save money while you keep social distancing

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