A few years ago in an unusual heat wave struck during the summer in France, nearly 15000 people were killed Most of these victims were elderly people who lived on their own alone and lost their lives to extreme dehydration. French Vacations narrates the story of five of these people, in a parallel style, through Abass a middle age florist who is the main link in the story.

Abass is an Iranian political refugee who has been living with her old mother in Paris for many years now. He owns a flower shop in which he also delivers flower to the door of the elderly people who have difficulty to come to the shop. While delivering their order Abass also help his elderly loyal customers with some small duties while visiting. Out of kindness, he takes their garbage out, does small shopping for them on the way to their homes, etc…

One of his regular customers is a blind old man. He asks Abass to bring him different flowers to his apartment to smell and choose the one he likes. He smells the flowers, asks Abass to describe their shape and their colours, and ask about the different meaning each flower might convey. Then he chooses one of them to send to an old lady who used to be his ex-lover.

However, despite the old lady feeling lonely and depressed, she keep rejecting the flowers and sends them back to him.

Requested by the blind old man, Abass takes him to his ex-lover’s house and leaves them alone to talk and reconcile. The old lady welcomes the blind old man initially, but as soon as their conversation gets heated in the subject of love the blind man is thrown out of the house. In their loneliness they both lose their lives to the heat of the summer at the end of the story.

Valeria is another customer of Abass. She is an old lady whose doctor has given her little time to live. She is so scared of being left alone when she dies, that she starts to practice the moment of her death and organises for a nice funereal ceremony for when she is no longer in this world. She lays down in her coffin and a rented lift-truck carries her coffin down from her apartment window on the 5th floor to the street. Down in the street, her friends are waiting for her arrival to say farewell to her. Every one of them is also holding some flowers in their hand that Abass has prepared for them. There is also a musical crew present that practice the march Valeria has chosen for her funereal. At the end of each practice day, Valeria walks out of her coffin and hugs and thanks her friends for their attendance. This practice for the funeral is carried out every few days to make sure that every thing goes to plan on the actual day. However, the day that Valeria finally passes away everything goes wrong. Her friends and the music crew miss her funeral. The street is quiet and there are only two officers standing next to a fire truck trying to bring her coffin down the window. They carry her coffin to the cold room where other elderly people, who have died out of the recent heat wave struck, are kept waiting to be buried.

The third customer is an old lady who lives with his cat alone. She is waiting for her daughter and granddaughter to come and stay with her for the summer holidays. She has filled her house with flower for their arrival. However, neither her daughter and granddaughter arrive nor Abass who was suppose to bring some new flowers for her. In fact, on the way to his customer’s house, Abass is hit by a car and is unconscious in the hospital. The abandoned old lady is now dead in the heat of his house and the sound of her cat, that is stuck in the apartment, is heard from outside.

The last customer of Abass is an old guy who suffers from Alzheimer. He leaves the home and gets lost everyday and asks people on the street for his son. Whenever, he ends up in front of the flower shop, Abass takes him back to his house. Little by little the Oldman thinks Abass is his son by mistake…


Mohsen Makhmalbaf

Cinema Soleil

SAGA Films