Wednesday - The best kept secret
France ’s best kept secret has a name and it’s not croissant or wine or some other delectable treat, but instead it’s Wednesday. A day in the middle of the week that doctors and dentists in America have been taking off for ages without any known reason to their patients. In the south of France primary school kids have no school on Wednesday and depending on class schedules, the middle and high school kids conclude their classes by noon.
You then ask, “Do you think that is a good idea?”
Well yes, after living it for over a year I find it to bring balance to the parent’s lives and the kids. Wednesday originally was designed for a day to allow for religious education but since the French aren’t very religious it has become the day for activities. Dance lessons, karate, soccer, art, music, horseback riding and anything else you desire are offered on Wednesdays (in addition to other days).
Many working parents arrange their work schedule so they have Wednesday’s off (with the 35 hour work week that is manageable). On Wednesdays kids get up a little bit later allowing them to hang out in their pajamas an extra 30-60 minutes, almost giving them the impression they have a mini vacation in the middle of the week. On Wednesday’s homework can be done at a leisurely pace first thing in the morning, at noon, or at the end of the day. It’s a day when extra time can be spent discussing misunderstood concepts or time to be used to promote new learning.
In our case after a slower morning and breakfast we head off for Uzes for dance class from 10-11. I (and sometimes Jean) walk the few blocks to our favorite café for café crème and the International Herald Tribune until Zoé finishes dance. After dance we head back to the center of Uzes to shop in the Wednesday organic farmer’s marché, strolling around after dance with our straw basket, Zoé and I buy fresh tomatoes, olives and the winter champignon. Being the marché we usually run into a few people, kiss three times on the cheek and get a warm feeling once again what a great day Wednesday is.
Then as a treat we have tea in Salon de Thè. Zoé always likes to pick table #5 when it’s just her and me, but today Jean decided to come alone and we sat at the round table #4. Their new Christmas tea was offered and so we indulged in a pot each.
At Salon de Thè we ran into two new friends and chatted for awhile over our tea before they picked up their son from middle school. Another couple enjoying Wednesday.
After shopping in the Biologic marché we stopped at one of our favorite lunch places on the corner of Rue du Gambett. Tables placed symmetrically on the sidewalk with a small single file isle available for those passing by receive the noon fall sun. Sitting outdoors for lunch is always preferred and happens until the cold mistral winds drive us inside.
Today is one of those glorious fall days when the sun shines and the leaves blow slowly from the trees gathering in piles for the kids to jump into. Why not, it is Wednesday! Families all around us are out for lunch. Moms and Dads with kids, moms with kids, and dads with kids. Whoever was lucky enough to not have to work is out enjoying the day.
After lunch we head home to change our clothes for Karate and get in a few minutes of homework. The rest of the afternoon is spent finishing homework and hanging out, maybe watching a video, taking a walk or reading a book. It is time for the kids to repose themselves as they say in France for the rest of the week.
Wednesday’s provide that respite in the week so come Friday Zoé is not exhausted but eager to go to school on Saturday morning. It is that extra day that always seemed to make the week feel so long. With Wednesday’s we no longer have that dread of Monday’s one so often feels on Sunday night, because we know on Sunday night we only have two more days until Wednesday, Not to speak of Tuesday night being an extra benefit with no school on Wednesday.
So what’s the tradeoff you ask? Not much we think. Summer is a bit shorter by two weeks and Zoé does have school on Saturday morning, but not all schools do. But with so many Saturday vacation days for special fêtes and two week holidays four times a year, it doesn’t seem to be a big compromise.
So with one of the best educations in the world and a country that has a higher productivity rate than US working fewer hours you wonder if Wednesday is the answer? It’s worth checking into. Meanwhile we will enjoy our Wednesday’s.