La Rentrée, France’s return after the long
The end of summer holidays and the return to school and work each September is a key event in the French calendar. There is even a special word for it: La Rentrée.
There is no exact English translation of La Rentrée.
In essence, the words communicate the start of another school year – and the return of normal daily life.
It is also quintessentially French, a period celebrated with renewed optimism as everyone looks afresh to the coming autumn.
This year’s official date for La Rentrée Scolaire is Thursday 2 September, when students return to schools, colleges and high schools throughout France. The last few days before that date will see children and their parents busy buying stationery in the aisles of their local papetrie, armed with a long list of writing materials and notebooks to buy.
The history behind La Rentrée arguably dates back to the 13th century. Pope Gregory IX decided to close the universities during August, enabling students to help with the agricultural harvests before returning in September. In the last century, the French government then decreed that there should be a common date for La Rentrée, which continues to the modern day.
However, La Rentrée does not concern only the education sector or the school calendar; it affects France’s business, political and literary life as well, as the country gets back down to business.
Like many other countries, August is a time when most politicians head to the beach… or if you are President of the French Republic, you can travel south to your summer Presidential retreat at Fort de Brégançon on the Côtes d’Azur. This medieval fortress is an island connected by a short causeway to the mainland.
Traditionally, September is the time when many small towns organise their annual exhibition for local associations, providing opportunities to join sports clubs, art groups and other leisure interests.
Finally, did you know that there is also a ‘literary rentrée’ for France’s writing community? It is an especially hectic time for the country’s authors, with more new novels published than at any other any other period.
Bonne rentrée à tous !