Fermé = Closed = August in Paris

Yesterday marked the day that France went on holiday for a month. While not a national holiday, it is part of the way of life when you get 5-9 weeks of vacation a year. And when no one else in your country is working, it makes it hard for you to get any work done too – so you may as well join the club and enjoy a little vacation. From now through the end of the month Parisians start fleeing, it can be a bit eerie (and hard to find a sandwich or fresh baguette) at times, but it also is this wonderful ghost town feel that lets you see another side of the city. Just about every other storefront had one of these signs to announce their fermeture (closing). These were some of my favorites.
This store not only closed for the month, they also emptied the entire store. It also appears that they extended their vacation (and had no time to reprint the sign).

The sheer handmade nature of the signs bring me joy. Business is second to balance (aka vacation). And you better believe these people are not glued to their blackberries while on holiday.

There is no need to write the ‘Plat du Jour’ when you’re closed for a month for estivale (summer).
Even the dentist is getting in on making homemade signage. However, he could pick up a pointer or two from his fellow Frenchmen when it comes to the length of his holiday.

I learned the hard way this morning that it seems that in August most post offices don’t open until 10:30 (rather than their usual 8am). The picture above is from Picard, the frozen food specialty store, which is closed during lunch time at this particular location.

I hadn’t noticed this super long holiday until today when everyone else joined the “on holiday” club.
Even mainstream chain stores from grocery stores to phone stores [above] may be closed. At least sometimes they’re kind enough to tell you alternate locations.

This is the best designed sign I came across. They sure seemed jazzed for their holiday…and they promise to come back with lots of energy!

This last one has to be my personal favorite. I love that they will be closed August 1st to 19th, but they don’t re-open until the 22nd. Also, they spelled restaurant wrong (even in French) – they must really have needed a vacation!

Looking for things to keep you busy in Paris this summer? Check out this post!


  • i love this post. now i’ll send you one of the A9 leaving Montpellier, or of the beach, or the Friday night summer wine festival.

  • I love your collection of signs, although I’m sad to see some of my favorite markets and restaurants disappear for the month.

    For those who are looking for somewhere to eat in August, we’ve been collecting closing dates over on Paris by Mouth and have created a calendar showing what’s open when:


  • Great sign collection! Yes, they are everywhere now. Things are so quiet outside, it almost makes me wish I were staying in town… Alas, I am not, either. My sign would say, “Outta Here!! Be back soon…”

    My fave is the Team Tibet one with their “Long live vacations!” exclamation and their crazy Tibetan hats, lol. I love people who think outside the typical! :D

  • I love Paris in August. This is when I first came to this city. This is when I fell in love. All one year ago.

    Do you know of the movie Paris au Mois d’Août? And the song that goes with it by Charles Aznavour?
    And there is one great song by Barbara, too – altough in German: Paris im August.

  • I’m a long time lurker – I love your posts!

    I’m wondering if you can explain some of the vocab that I saw repeatedly:
    “conges annuelles”, I’ve gathered is “vacation” but isn’t that “vacances”?
    “estivale” – summer, right? but why not ete? pardon my lack of accents.
    “exceptionnellement ferme” – I’m really confused with this one! exceptionally closed?!

  • Hi JFB,

    Thanks for speaking up. You are correction, vacanes = vacation, however, there are several ways vacations are handled from holidays to breaks. “Conges annuelles” more refers to annual days off (it just happens to be a lot of days off). Estivale is a new one to me, but it’s a way of saying ‘summertime.’ A French friend found the “exceptionnellement fermé” particularly amusing. It basically means “hey, we’re usually open, but we just happen to not be open this month” (at least they were kind enough to list a nearby store).

    I’m sure to pick up more in the coming weeks (and new vocab). It’s actually amazing how many ways there are to say one is “on holiday.” I also love the handwritten design style from a graphic standpoint :)

    Hope this helps!

  • This is great, both the signs and your commentary. I’m coming to Paris later this month and am excited to be in the city when it’s quieter. I can’t wait.

    Vive l’aout!

    And, I will fortunately be there for la rentrée, when I get to gaze upon the frightening tans of luxe Parisians.

  • Love your blog – found it thanks to David Lebovitz and twitter – I just wish America would follow France and take Aug off – we r headed to Paris next week and then Provence can’t wait hope somewhere delicious will be open.

  • We have had a very terrible “Samedi Noir a few years ago, 350 km of bouchon from Lyon to Montpellier and a broken down radiator.
    Now we miss this time and go n for vacation later in August.

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