Back to school, back to work, back to life.
La rentrée means much more than just ‘back to school’. The word also signifies a return to social and professional normality after an extended break. This September, after 18 months of life under restrictions, la rentrée has a special significance.
Starting late August, parents in France usually anticipate la rentrée scolaire by filling their childrens’ backpacks with an extensive and very precise list of school equipment from the nearest hypermarket. The result is a heavy load for young shoulders.
During les grands vacances, those same parents will often have been re-filling their own mental and emotional backpacks. At rentrée social gatherings, bronzed mums and dads swap stories of relaxing vacations while the kids were staying with their grandparents at the beach. For a short and dreamy September period, the summer break edges into extra time – as half-read novels are completed, joggers keep up the improved fitness and few alarm clocks are set.
The same warm glow briefly extends to the workplace. Relaxed, energised professionals are fit and ready for the long stretch until the year end. Rooftop after-work cocktail parties are well-frequented and employees are, quite suddenly, happy to chat to strangers in elevators. In this annual ritual of regeneration, rentrée resolutions are made and broken – just like at New Year, but with September’s morning dew in place of January’s frost.