How Will You ‘Back to School’? – A Very French Perspective

Smiling girl, curly hair, braces

There are three words that begin to seep into the air this time of year that make children huddle in summer-sunlit corners, and render parents either full of trepidation and angst or utterly gleeful, knowing that their life will go back to “normal” in a short while. What are these words?

Back to school

In an effort to diminish your anxiety, we present you with a new perspective on the going-back-to-the-school-year grind.

We give you La Rentrée

The French counterpart to the American season of going back to school has a much rosier, welcome connotation across the pond. The event known as la rentrée, which translates to “the return,” is the annual surge of tanned, relaxed residents—of all social strata—coming home from their extended vacations and breathing new life into their hometowns and cities. The phenomenon is so prevalent—watching people pick up their everyday lives after a month-long holiday—and so palpable that expat writers and bloggers alike wax poetic about it.

Why is it such an occasion? Any tourist who’s chosen to visit Paris during the month of August will tell you stories of their rude awakenings to the fact that the city, and country for that matter, is closed during the month of August. (No kidding; aside from specific destinations that bank on tourist dollars, the city is quiet except for fellow tourists.) With the annual per-person allotment of vacation time resting at eight weeks, the French take full advantage in summertime by shuttering their shops and restaurants, closing their laptops and office buildings, and leaving the city for their vacation destinations. Even the neighborhood bakers schedule a summer-vacation rotation so that those people who don’t head out of town (and tourists) will still have a fresh supply of bread and pastries. Then the first week of September arrives. On the same day, at the same hour, across the whole of the country, every schoolkid returns to class properly dressed and fully stocked for their academic year.

Along with the children, the adults return to their daily cadence relaxed, refreshed— maybe even ready to come back to the grind—which is tempered by the very French concept of la joie de vivre (something us overworked Americans could learn a thing or two from.) Here’s an interesting fact that you may not know: The French don’t make New Year’s resolutions. Instead, they make resolutions for la rentrée.

OK, OK. Not all is sunny in the land of la rentrée

For our French-language learners: A quick search on YouTube for the phrase la rentrée and you’ll find videos made by some very funny school-age kids (tweens, really) proving that, although they have a sense of humor about it, they’re none so pleased about their vacances coming to an end. (We dare you to keep up with their French! They speak at mach speed!)

What’s the moral of the story?

With the time we have left this summer, let’s spend it with our family and friends, enjoy some good food and sunshine, and return to our workaday lives in good spirits. Yes, time marches on whether we want to be on the ride or not, and there are preparations that need to be made, supplies to gather, learning tools to buy for our young ones, and replacements for all the clothes they grew out of over the these last months. At least we can approach it with une petite souris, like the one Mona Lisa wears.

 

How will you ‘Back to school’?

Stride into your back-to-school season by learning with Rosetta Stone! Take your pick from our growing selection of offerings; including of brain fitnesslanguage learning and reading for children K-12, and of course our proven and guaranteed language learning system!

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Kelly Doscher

Kelly is the Social Media Contributor, Blogger and Editor for the Rosetta Stone and Livemocha blogs, and is an award-winning mom blogger in her spare time. She holds a B.A. in French Studies from the University of Washington, has a passion for languages, food, and travel.
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