Public holidays in France and public holidays in the US can’t be compared. France wins every time. Let’s look at days off in the USA. Back in New York, I’d count down the days to the next public holiday that would mean I’d be off from work. But aside from the biggies like Christmas, New Year’s, Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July, I found myself at the office. In France though, public holidays mean that your office is closed and you can spend the day kicking up your feet and catching up on TV. Or emails. Or take some time out to clean. Ha ha ha.
Public holidays in France
Today is France’s Labor Day, but May 1 is also La Fête du Muguet (Lily of the Valley Day) and the first of the public holidays in France this month. Tom is home today and currently taking advantage of some extra ZZZZs. Later in May, there are three more public holidays and I’m sure Tom has a countdown at work…
In the US, my job wouldn’t give off for Presidents Day, Veterans Day, etc., but in France, a holiday is a holiday and most people don’t work on these French bank holidays.
Because it’s a public holiday in France, all the stores are closed — including banks, post offices and just about everything else aside from the movies. A few boulangeries are open in the morning only, but everything else is closed today. In general for public holidays in France, some supermarkets might be open (the law allows them to be open only a few holidays) but things are closed today. Completely. Well, aside from places in tourist areas. So if you need groceries or anything else, you just have to wait until tomorrow. Unlike the US where certain stores or banks are still open on holidays (My TD Bank, for example always had lobby hours even if it was a holiday), that’s definitely not something you’d find in France. The French take their holidays seriously and know how to relax!
I’ve written before on the lenient vacation time Tom gets at his job and when you add in the 11 French bank holidays, you have a lot of opportunities for long weekends! Did I mention that I like living in France?
The French also do something called “faire le pont,” which literally means “make the bridge. If one of the French bank holidays falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, for example, they’ll take off the Monday or Friday and go on a long weekend. It’s very common in France to take a long weekend away with a partner or family.
Here’s a list of the 11 public holidays in France 2018:
Monday 1st January – New Year’s Day (Jour de l’An)
Monday 2nd April – Easter Monday (Lundi de Pâques)
Tuesday 1st May – Labour Day (Fête du Travail)
Tuesday 8th May – VE Day – (Fête de la Victoire 1945)
Thursday 10th May – Ascension Day (l’Ascension)
Monday 21th May – Whit Monday (Lundi de Pentecôte)
Saturday 14th July – Bastille Day (Fête Nationale)
Wednesday 15th August – Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (l’Assomption)
Thursday 1st November – All Saints’ Day (La Toussaint)
Sunday 11th November – Armistice Day (Armistice 1918)
Tuesday 25th December – Christmas Day (Noël)
Also, as I mentioned above, May 1 is also Lily of the Valley Day and we’ve already had someone come door to door (it’s raining) to sell us a little bouquet of the white muguet flowers. It is a French tradition to give the flowers to loved ones, and you can often find the muguets at florists and supermarkets several days before.
On May 1, kids and teens sell them in the street. This French tradition seems to have come about on May 1st, 1561, when King Charles IX of France was given a bouquet of lily of the valleys as a gesture of prosperity and good luck for the year ahead. So let me extend a virtual bouquet to you right now. 😉