Paris airports offering summer vacationers dance lessons while they wait for their flights to New York or Buenos Aires.
France has many summer traditions. First, there’s the summer vacation almost everyone in France takes –up until recently, before globalization crept in, le tout Paris was MIA in August, with shops and restaurants closing their doors up to an entire month. Then there are newer traditions like Paris Plage, the man-made beach installed along the Seine in Paris as a surreal consolation prize to those Parisians stuck in town.
This weekend, the first of the official vacation season in France, will see millions clogging French roads, train stations and airports. For air travellers at least, now there’s a new summer happening in France, to make people leaving on vacation feel like they’re there before they board their flights. . Expecting 1,200,000 international travellers to leave France this week alone, Paris airports Roissy Charles de Gaulle and Orly are glad to provide something unexpected to make people smile instead of grumble about the long waits. So Paris airports are offering free dance lessons to travellers every weekend all summer long.
200,000 passengers are expected daily at Charles de Gaulle airport until next Sunday, the biggest in France, with 900,000 this weekend alone. That’s a lot of frazzled French vacationers. The director of Hall 2E and 2F points out that most are not seasoned travelers but French who may only come once a year to Paris airports and he wants them to have a good experience. He added that these French vacationers also typically arrive earlier for their flights and have more time to kill. Many also have already travelled for hours from other parts of France just to get to a Paris airport.
So in the the waiting area at international departure gates in Paris, it’s au revoir boredom, boujour disco ball.
The dance lessons last 15 minutes. Students hear music and instructions from teachers through headphones, so as not to disturb other passengers who are working or trying to sleep. Classes run all day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on busy summer weekends. On the dance card are oriental dance, mambo, modern jazz, rock’n’roll, tango salsa and hip hop, tailored to pasengers’ destinations. Hip hop pupils in Paris are bound for New York, while tango students are leaving France for Argentina. It’s all to get French vacationers in the holiday spirit, and reduce stress both for them and for overloaded French airport employees.
So far, most French passengers, even the wallflowers, have greeted the dance lessons with hard-won smiles and approval. Anything that breaks up the tedium of the long journey to fun is welcome. The dance lessons, which started in Paris airports Charles de Gaulle and Orly in June, have already instructed over 4,000 outbound travellers from France. Paris airports are expecting many more toes to be tapping as the tourist season in France ramps up this weekend. Only now, they’ll hopefully be tapping in rhythm, not in impatience.
Travellers can learn to dance in France before their flight every weekend until the end of the summer holidays.
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