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French ministers take 'austere' summer break

Photo: AFP

In what is becoming a summer tradition, the French president has told government ministers to take just two weeks of holiday and to remain close to Paris in case they need to be called upon. FRANCE 24 surveys the ministers’ sober destination choices.

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Citing France’s protracted economic slump, President François Hollande is taking just one week of vacation this summer and has ordered his cabinet members to cap theirs at two. In addition, ministers have been told to stay close to Paris and given a homework assignment: think about what France will look like in 10 years.

Hollande’s short leash has not gone unnoticed in France, where vacations are considered sacrosanct and the month of August marks an annual exodus toward the beach and countryside, draining office buildings, factories and shops.

However, the obligatory sober summer for ministers is becoming something of a new tradition.

Nicolas Sarkozy was the first to crack the whip in 2011, telling his cabinet to choose French destinations over international ones. Just weeks into the job in August 2012, Hollande followed in his predecessor’s footsteps by telling his own ministers to stay close by and on call.

In short, as ordinary French feel the burden of the economic crisis and austerity measures, so too must their leaders sacrifice lavish holidays. All of the president’s troops must be back in Paris for a ministerial meeting on August 19. Until then, where will they be kicking back?

 

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