Academic planners should rightly be taken to court for crimes of calendar character assassination.
It’s their fault, after all, that so many of us approach September with back-to-school dread and despondency; the end of good times replaced by an inevitable slog of hard graft.
But it shouldn’t be that way. In fact, now is when all the fun begins. Across southern Europe, the weather is balmy, blissful and far more comfortable with temperatures hovering in the mid-to-high 20s. Now the boiling heat of summer has reduced to a gentle simmer on the continent, sightseeing is a joy, beach strolls are possible at midday and deep blue seas are their most swimmable (around Tenerife and Sardinia, the waters are reaching their temperature peak).
A harvest of new food and flavours also makes this the tastiest time of year to travel. Vineyards in France, Portugal and Italy are ripe for picking, sending the scent of sweet fruit drifting through the countryside. From the coast to the mountains, villages honour a bounty of crops with jubilant festivals and restaurant tables are laid with ingredients.
A mood of gratitude and appreciation is as warming as the soft, low-key sun. Dangling in the sky, her rays strike the skin at just the right angle making it forever feel like gin o’clock. And with the sunset happening at a more manageable hour, there’s more time to wave her off, dine and still have a comfortable sleep.
The light is arguably at its most magical in this moment, oiling the creative cogs of photographers and artists who’ve always cherished the slow segue of summer into autumn. From the fuchsia hues cast over Provence, to the amber dawns awakening Alpine peaks, colours are intense and captivating. Celebrating their last hurrah, landscapes are lively and vivid. And in the perfect marriage of warmth and light, wildflowers enjoy their last dance before falling to the ground like confetti.
So let’s learn to love the “after summer” season and give it the respect it deserves. And if you need still more reasons why now is the best time to go on holiday, we’ve shared a few ideas on the following pages.