This last August my family and I, spent a week in a Gîte (rural rental house) in the Loire Valley. Château country! The Gîte we stayed in, number 436, was in the town of Crouy-sur-Cosson, ten kilometers from Chambord. During our vacation we visited 8 Châteaux, Chambord, Cheverny, Chenonceau, Blois, Amboise, Fougères-sur-Bière, Villesavin and Beauregard. Along with 3 museums, Clos Lucé (where Leonard da Vinci spent the last few years of his life, just a few kilometers from Amboise.), Maison de la Magie Robert-Houdin (a museum of magic just across from Blois) and the Tintin museum (on the grounds of Cheverny).
The end of the vacation month, August, means La Rentrée (back to school or work.). This year there was more talk about La Rentrée 2003, than La Rentrée 2002. The government decided to cut back 3,000 to 4,000 posts in the education sector. Reason: there were 15,000 less students this year then last year. Of course this does not sit well with teachers, students and parents. As the week of the La Rentrée progressed the government did some back tracking, stating that there would be no reduction of teaching positions.
September also brings with it La Vendange, grape harvest. This year I helped out two of my brother's in-laws, Michel and Thierry, with their Vendange. There were twenty of us or so, mostly family and friends. Michel's winery, Domaine de l'Echelette is near Tournus. Thierry has a few hectars, a hectar being 100 meters by 100 meters, just next to Michel's domaine. Thierry is growing grapes as a way to supplement his farm income.
France leads Europe in the number of people killed on its roads each year, over 8,000 last year. The government is starting to act, on September 17th there was a meeting of all interested parties: government ministers, car manufacturers, and safety organizations. This being France there was a lot of talk, with no decisions. But the government promised to vigorously enforce the law of the road. Speaking from personal experience the vast majority of French drivers exceed the speed limit. Also a reasonable distance of security between cars is not observed. I am often overtaken on the Autoroute (Highway) by cars doing over a 100 mph.
Five Paris firefighters were killed September 14th. All of the firefighters were under thirty years of age, one was on his first call. A pocket of gas exploded in the building where they were fighting the fire. French President Jacques Chirac and other dignitaries, including firefighters from New York, attended the funeral.
Convicted, for his role in the deportation of Jews during the Vichy government three years ago, Maurice Papon was set free on September 18th. He was serving a ten year prison sentence for his crimes, but was set free for health reasons, he is 92 years old. Only the eighth person set free under a new law that grants release for humanitarian reasons, if two independent doctors feel that a prisoner's health is at stake by staying in prison.