La rentrée is a big deal in France. Early September marks the re-entry of the local French after a long vacation period, which is often the full month of August. The term is mostly associated with students going back to school for the new academic year (la rentrée scolaire). But it is also used more broadly. Government’s gears start turning again—or, noticeably, not—as administrators return to their duties (la rentrée politique). The French parliament reopens (la rentrée parlementaire). Movie theaters shift to more serious films (la rentrée du cinema). Bookstore shelves sag with the weight of publications that have been carefully timed for release in September (la rentrée littéraire). Restaurants and shops that had been shuttered for weeks reopen for business. Most tourists have gone home, but streets are crowded with locals returning to work and school. It’s a hectic time with a dash of madness as everyone scrambles to resume their normal activities. And yet it’s often accompanied by a sense of optimism and fresh beginnings.
I like the term very much. There’s nothing quite like it in English. But la rentrée is a useful way of labeling the sudden shifts in rhythm and mood that occur this time of year. I’m tossing the magazines, books, recipes and other expectations that I never got around to reading or doing. I’m clearing the way and getting organized for new priorities and activities. And I know to expect a jumble of feelings.
Today is hotter than most we’ve had all summer, but there’s no doubt that a new season has begun. I wish you a good fall and smooth transition. Bonne rentrée!