Culture Magazine

The Assumption Holiday: Choose a Different Route!

By Sedulia @Sedulia

The way I discovered that Assumption (August 15th) is a special day in France was that I was trying to return with my family to Paris that day from Normandy. We left about seven p.m. after a last day at the beach, expecting to be back in the city by nine-thirty. It was the middle of the week.

But somehow everyone in France seemed to be on the road that day. The autoroute was so crowded we were inching along. It got dark and we were still only about ten miles from where we entered the autoroute. The children fell asleep. At three in the morning, still only an hour closer to Paris, we got off the autoroute, hoping to find an alternate way into the city, only to find ourselves blocked en pleine campagne [in the middle of the countryside] in a huge traffic jam. It was so stationary that families got out of their cars and were picnicking on their roofs or by the side of the road under the stars. We finally rolled into Paris around dawn, having learned our lesson.

After that I took care to avoid traveling in France on the 1st or 15th of August. These days are notorious as those when the entire country goes on holiday or moves from visiting the parents to a vacation with friends. (Naturally, these dates are big favorites for transport strikes as well.) The traffic warning system Bison Futé, or "Savvy Buffalo" [represented by a cartoon Plains Indian] classifies these days as Red and warns you to "Go a different way"!

Screen shot 2012-08-15 at 10.18.28


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