Friday, 25 June 2010
The French Lunch Hour
…. or, 90 minutes or two hours. In many larger towns and cities shops closing for a period anywhere between midday and 14.30 may be less common these days, but here in Bayeux, as in most of Calvados, businesses close for lunch for at least 90 minutes, except of course for those most important to the French; that’s boulangeries and pharmacies but not banks!
This is one of the practicalities of day to day living in France that many newly arrived from the UK find somewhat exasperating and difficult to come to terms with. However, it does have its advantages: roads and motorways are quieter, parking over the lunch period is normally free, out of town supermarkets remain open but will be less busy – although the pay-off for this may be far fewer checkouts open.
But this week it has taken on a greater significance for me. With the start of building work on the former car park adjacent to my apartment uncannily coinciding with the start of our current bout of glorious weather, never have I been so appreciative of the long lunch hour. It is an all too brief opportunity to throw open the windows and balcony doors while we too have lunch before the unwelcome hour of 14.00 approaches and all must be closed again to protect ourselves from the thunder of pile driving and excavations that will continue through the summer afternoon.