Summer is the most expensive time to buy a flight to France. Instead of shelling out a grand for a trip to Paris in July or August, have an American summer à la française. Here are 11 resolutions to help you have a French summer Stateside.
1. Eat lunch outside
It could be 48 degrees out and the French will say it’s “just a little chilly.” The French will seemingly do anything to eat outside. Pack your lunch, find the nearest park, picnic table or bench, and enjoy your mid-day break in the fresh air.
2. Enjoy apéro
The ritualistic time of day when the French come together over drinks (and often light bites) to simply be together, apéro is an essential part of French summer. Get one, two, or ten friends together for an evening drink. (Learn more from food writer and apéro expert Rebekah Peppler about how to have the perfect apéro here.)
3. Take your vacation days
Don’t do the American thing where you don’t take all your vacations days. Take all of them. Every. Single. One. Ask for more days off. Complain about not getting certain federal holidays off. Don’t look at your email while on vacation.
This goes hand in hand with taking your vacation days. There are two types of travel that the French likes: short weekend trips, and long trips (by American standards). So plan a beach weekend (or a lake weekend) and also take a week off to go drive up the West Coast.
5. Have a barbecue (but not an American BBQ, a French one)
Like Americans, the French enjoy a good barbecue in the backyard. However, this is not necessarily the barbecue you are imagining with hamburgers, hotdogs, coleslaw, bags of Lays chips, grapes, and cookies from Costco. A French barbecue has sausage, chicken, and slices of meat (maybe or maybe not with buns), a salad, hummus and carrots, guac and chips (possibly guac and baguette), olives, other small-bites items, and nearly always grilled bell peppers.
6. Avoid the city
The final commandment related to travel, you should be picking warm destinations. Don’t travel to New York, Chicago, San Francisco or even L.A. Head to laid-back locations, small cities, coastal towns, and warm-weather locations: Yelapa, Mexico; Portland, Maine; and Monterey, California, would all be acceptable.
7. “Profiter du soleil”
It’s exactly what it sounds like: profit from the sun, or take advantage of the sun. If it’s sunny, go outside. Play volleyball, go hiking, go to the beach, have a picnic. When the sun is out, you should be out.
8. Wear pants
Sorry to tell you that French women do not wear shorts very often. To quote the French woman who explained to me why I shouldn’t wear shorts in France, “thighs are for the beach and your husband.” Wear maxi dresses, maxi skirts, chinos, tights, light weight jeans, whatever you want, just not shorts.
9. Play pétanque
If you’ve never heard of pétanque, it’s one of the best games ever. You stand around in a group and take turns throwing a metal ball, landing it as close as you can to a small ball. There’s no running, throwing underhand is fine, you can blame a bad shot on lumpy terrain, you don’t get sweaty, and you can drink while you play. It’s a summery “sport” because it’s played outside in the sunshine; anywhere you find pétanque, you’ll find French people.
10. Hang out on a terrasse
There is a terrasse seemingly at nearly every restaurant in France. In the U.S., not so much. You’d be lucky to come across an eatery with a few tables outside. In the warm weather, the French are called to the terrasse like moths to a lamp. The French will go to great lengths to find a terrasse.
11. Wear Ray Bans
The preferred sunglasses of the French, or at least French expats living in New York. Get yourself a pair of Ray Bans.