Does France still shut down for the month of August?

It is best to avoid doing certain tasks during the summer months

Many French people go on holiday in August

An enduring image of France is that the entire country grinds to a halt in August. But is this as true these days as it once was? Is it best to avoid trying to get anything done in August? We take a look at what is open, what closes and what is best avoided. 

What happens in August?

Traditionally, many French people take their holidays in August, leaving the cities for the beaches or mountains. 

Many families choose this time of year because it coincides with school holidays and historically, it was when manufacturing closed for the month, giving workers the chance to take time off. 

French people get five weeks holiday per year, which inevitably means many take at least part of August off. 

This results in some businesses, from the local shop to the optician, doctor or dentist closing their doors for part or all of the month. 

And it is not just August – some French people take their holidays in July instead, so you could find that things are a little bit quieter in either month, depending on where you are. 

Read more: Who are France’s juilletistes and aoûtiens?

Does France really grind to a halt in August?

How much of a ghost town your destination becomes in August really depends on where you visit. If you are heading to a big city, or an area popular with tourists, most things will still be accessible and open. 

Tourist sites, such as museums and galleries, remain open throughout the month and there will be plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from. 

However, if you are visiting a smaller town or village, prepare for some shuttered windows and signs informing you the owners will be back in September. 

Big university towns also tend to be quieter in August, as students will be on holiday and many of the term-time population will be spending the summer elsewhere. 

It is also worth remembering that August 15 is a public holiday in France. Most public buildings will be closed. 

What should you avoid trying to do in August?

Most people avoid trying to tackle any kind of paperwork or bureaucracy in August. While local town halls and administrative offices may still be open, some will be working with a skeleton staff that makes getting anything done much slower than it might be during the rest of the year. 

Many people avoid planning anything big in August such as renovations or work commitments, as it could prove difficult to get hold of people. 

Scheduling an important work meeting in August is also a bit of a no-no. Even if you are around, chances are someone you will need to get hold of will be out of office. 

What should you do in August?

Many people think August is actually one of the best times to visit Paris because of the fact the city is so much quieter than usual. 

So if you are looking for a more relaxed experience in the French capital, August could be the perfect time to visit. 

Or, if all else fails, join the rest of the French, put your out-of-office on, and go on your vacances