Public holidays in France, called fêtes or jours fériés are very important to the French with national holidays and several religious and traditional celebrations held annually.
National Holidays, (known in the UK as Bank Holidays), in France consist of 8 days of holiday which have fixed dates, and three days of national holidays which are associated with Easter and which have changeable dates every year. It’s worth noting that if a public holiday occurs on a Tuesday, many workers in smaller businesses will take the Monday off too, and if it falls on a Thursday it’s common for people to take Friday off to make for a nice long weekend called “faire le pont” (making a bridge).
Traffic on the roads often increases at these times and there may be limited métro and bus services available. Banks, post offices, as well as most offices, stores and some museums are closed on national holidays – check before you go. Don’t forget that in many areas all shops will be closed on a public holiday so pick up your extra bread and goodies before hand!
Fixed Public Holidays that fall on a Sunday in France are celebrated on the following Monday.
For workers there is no time off granted in lieu when a Public Holiday falls on a Saturday.
Fixed Public holidays France
1 January – New Year’s Day (Jour de l’an)
1 May – Labor Day (Fête du Travaille/ Prremier Mai)
8 May – WWII Victory Day (Fête de la Victoire 1945; Fête du huitième mai)
14 July – Bastille Day (Fête nationale)
15 August – Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Assomption)
1 November – All Saints Day (La Toussaint)
11 November – Armistice Day (Jour d’armistice)
25 December – Christmas Day (Noël)
Changeable public holidays in France
Easter – Pâques
Ascension Day (held 40 days after Easter Sunday)
Pentacost/Whit Sunday (held 50 days after Easter)
Regional holidays in France
Officially regional holidays in France actually only apply to Alsace-Moselle (including Strasbourg – the seat of the European Parliament). The additional days of regional holidays were granted in 1832 when the region was under German rule. When the region was returned to France at the end of World War I the additional days were retained and remain in force today.
Alsace-Moselle Regional Holidays
26 December- Saint Stephen’s Day
Employee holiday leave in France
Under French law everyone is entitled to five weeks holiday per year. Most of them seem to take much of their time off in July and August when the children are on holiday from school. At this time you’ll find that roads, trains, ferries and airports are incredibly busy with the influx of foreign holiday makers plus a high proportion of French citizens on the move for their annual summer break.
Shops and businesses will close on public holidays and surprisingly so will some restaurants so if you’re in France on a public holiday, prepare ahead and book restaurants in advance to make sure they’re open or buy supplies from shops the day before.
See here for 2013 Public holidays in France
See here for 2014 Public holidays in France