la rentrée

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la rentrÉe

La rentrée means “the return/reentry”. It has a few other definitions but most of the time it’s used in French to mean “back to school” or, in a larger sense, “back to the routine/back to work after summer vacation”.

La rentrée is a huge moment of the year in France. It’s not just about students getting back to school; it’s about everyone coming back from summer vacation – or at least transitioning from the calmer days of summer into fall. Autumn in France tends to be a period where, with the exception of a few days off, most French people work hard in the lead-up to the end-of-year holidays. So, while some might see la rentrée in a positive, optimistic light, it usually turns out to be a fairly stressful period, especially those first few weeks of September.

La rentrée is frequently used as a shortened form of the phrases la rentrée scolaire or la rentrée des classes (back to school/back to class). But there are several other types of rentrée that you might hear or see specifically referred to.

For instance, la rentrée littéraire refers to the fact that many books by established French authors are published during la rentrée, after summer vacation. La rentrée politique is when a political establishment is back in session after vacation, or when a candidate makes their reappearance on the political scene.

If someone is returning to a regular activity (work, studies, etc.) after being away for a while, but it’s not particularly because it’s the rentrée period, you’ll probably more likely hear this as la or une reprise (coming back/starting again).

Meaning

  • back to school
  • back to the routine/work after summer vacation

Alternative forms

  • la rentrée scolaire (back to school)
  • la rentrée des classes (back to school/classes)
  • la rentrée littéraire (publishers’ release season for popular French authors)
  • la/une rentrée politique (when a political body resumes activity after a vacation/when a candidate reappears on the political scene)

Synonyms

  • la/une reprise (a return to a regular activity. Note that this does not have exactly the same context as la rentréeune reprise can happen at any time, in any circumstances, to an individual as well as a group)

Example sentence

Elle est stressée parce que c’est la rentrée.

She’s stressed out because it’s back to the routine/back to work/back to school.


Le prof se prepare pour la rentrée des classes.

The teacher is preparing for back to school.


Bonne rentrée !

Have a good school year/Good luck with back to school!/Welcome back to work/Good luck with getting back to work!


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