The French have 19 holidays this year, many of them religious in nature due to a large part of the country being Roman Catholic. Some are just observances such as Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Whit Sunday, Christmas Eve and New Years Eve, but the rest are actual statutory holidays. And this means that all things close down and people actually take the day off completely. They are strict about this – holidays are time for family and friends and they make sure they have lots of them.
They also make the most of any holidays that fall on a Thursday or Tuesday and plan to take the day between to make it an extra long weekend. This is called “faire le pont” or “make the bridge” from the holiday to the weekend. Smart? We think so. We started to look into this as bookings for the apartment started coming in for these “extra long weekends” and most were last minute as people decided to take a quick break out of town.
In the month of May this year there are four holidays – May 1 is Labour Day or May Day, May 8 is WWII Victory Day, May 25 is Mothers Day and May 29 is Ascension Day. Three of them fall on a Thursday, which means lots of “faire le pont” this month! No point trying to get much done as everyone will be away enjoying life!
We think these customs are awesome. Can’t wait until we live there and take part in the "joie de vivre" as the French do everyday.
For your reference, check out the list of the 2014 holidays:
Wednesday Jan 1, New Year's Day, National holiday
Friday Apr 18, Good Friday, Local holiday
Sunday Apr 20, Easter Day, Observance
Monday Apr 21, Easter Monday, National holiday
Thursday May 1, Labor/May Day, National holiday
Thursday May 8, WWII Victory Day, National holiday
Sunday May 25, Mother's Day, Observance
Thursday May 29, Ascension Day, National holiday
Sunday Jun 8, Whit Sunday, Observance
Monday Jun 9, Whit Monday, National holiday
Sunday Jun 15, Father's Day, Observance
Monday Jul 14, Bastille Day, National holiday
Friday Aug 15, Assumption of Mary, National holiday
Saturday Nov 1, All Saints' Day, National holiday
Tuesday Nov 11, Armistice Day, National holiday
Wednesday Dec 24, Christmas Eve, Observance
Wednesday Dec 25, Christmas Day, National holiday
Friday Dec 26, St. Stephen's Day, Local holiday
Wednesday Dec 31, New Year's Eve, Observance