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General Comments on French Holidays

Equivalent in English of the Weekdays:
lun=lundi = Monday; mar=mardi = Tuesday; mer=mercredi = Wednesday; jeu=jeudi = Thursday; ven=vendredi = Friday; sam=samedi = Saturday; dim=dimanche = Sunday

Holidays and Equivalent in English
*jour de l'an New Years Day
*Pâques Easter,Whit Sunday + Monday
fête du premier mai Labor Day
*fête du huitième mai Victory Day
*l'Ascencion Ascencion Day
*la Pentecôte Pentecost Sunday + Monday
*fête nationale Bastille Day
*Assomption Assumption Day
*La Toussaint All Saints Day
*jour d'armistice Armistice Day
*noël Christmas
**pont "le pont" see comment below

There are eleven national holidays under the law. They are required days off for children under 18 and apprentices. Yet, only one of the holidays is designated to be day off for the adult employees, the rest being optionally so, in principle. Consequently, we mark them with an asteristk (*) in the above table. Actually, however, all eleven holidays seem generally being observed. Therefore, we color them bright and label them in our French calendars.

Holidays grayed in the calendar, and marked ** above, are les ponts. That is all Fridays that bridge a holiday-Thursday to the following weekend. Many employers and employees agree this be a day off.

There are many regional festivals in France and not included in our calendars.

The trains and roads near major cities tend to get busy around the national holidays.

Under the law, every French citizen is entitled to five weeks of vacation. Most people take their summer vacations in August. Most major businesses are then closed. France takes to the roads, railroads, boats, and airways. To travel France in August is generally not an optimal idea for foreigners.

The beginning of national holidays is the time when service unions, such as transporters, railroaders, etc. used to have a tradition to go on strike. Might the increasing international travel from other EU countries perhaps become tempting host to a similar strategy? Anyway, travelers may do well to check ahead, particularly when planning a trip for the last week of June or first week of July.

In years when Ascencion Day concurs with Victory Day, we mark only the former, thus ignoring the latter.

Beause the civic calendar was first instituted in 1582, we do not display any holidays before then. Bastille Day is phased in 1789, labor day in 1935, armistice day in 1918, and victory day in 1945.

Change to and from summer time: These two Sundays are marked peru brown in our calendars. Notice that for the spring date, the last Sunday in March is assumed to continue beyond 1997, which is yet uncertain as of this writing (20.10.97).

Bon voyage,
bon séjour en France!

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