August is officially here, and already Paris has a different look. Not just fewer cars. It looks like there are about 50% fewer women. Men seem to be coming out of the woodwork. Traditionally and anecdotally, a majority of the wives disappear to the provinces with the kids, and the husbands stay behind, working and ... apparently roaming the streets in their spare time.
Is it my imagination, or do men in Paris change their demeanor in August? They seem more open, more friendly, more je ne sais quoi. Available? Depends on how you define the word. Yours truly had a few dinners with "separated" rascals last August. I soon learned to ask "separated for how long?"
I mention this singular observation to my friend Isabelle who lives in Brittany. "Oh, oui, it's a known phenomenon," she fills in immediately. "We locals call the summer train that arrives on Friday night from Paris le train des cocus (the train of the cuckolds). The women are here with the kids, their husbands have to stay in Paris for work. According to legend, spouses on both ends of the TGV are going about their merry way in private."
The train des cocus terminus isn't limited to Brittany. Apparently it journeys to just about any summer resort that separates husband and wife during vacation periods. Not restricted to married couples, either.