It was absolutely chucking it down outside (lovely weather for October) and as my friend's newly installed kitchen cupboards were bare she suggested we order a takeaway pizza for lunch. Just one problem; four of the five local pizza restaurants were closed for the summer holidays. Needless to say only the one furthest away was open.
At our local market the butcher, fishmonger, grocer and Italian epicerie are closed for the holidays as is the cous-cous restaurant and the African speciality takeaway. Seven of the ten outlets have temporarily ceased trading in a market that struggles at the best of times. The cheese shop was open but had a fraction of its usual stock and the bread I foolishly bought without thinking almost broke teeth. The boulanger opposite downed shutters several weeks ago. The newspaper kiosk is also locked and shuttered, as is the café bar next door. Paris is heaving with visitors with euros burning holes in pockets as it is every August, while stores, restaurants, cafés and bars have shut up shop until the end of the month, as they do every August.
Last week the French prime minister François Fillon hauled government ministers back from their holidays to discuss ways of giving the country's economy a kick up the derrière. Not exactly rocket science, is it?