By law, France is a strongly secular state which strictly forbids religion becoming involved with the state in areas such as the law, government, education, national surveys and so on. It also guarantees absolute freedom of worship to all religions. It is notionally a Roman Catholic country but there cannot be, by law, an ‘official religion’. In reality, most French people of European origin do not regularly practice any religion and atheism or agnosticism is widespread. The calendar is full of Christian religious festivals of historic origin though and Christmas, Easter, All Saints, the Assumption, Ascension and Pentecost are all public holidays. There are many others including Mayday, Bastille Day and Armistice Day. Most of these are usually public holidays and an excuse for various festivities, displays, concerts and partying. France also has Europe’s largest Muslim population, estimated at around 10-12% of the population. Originally largely from North Africa, today they also come from the Middle East. So, Muslim festivals, such as Eid Al-Fitr, are widely celebrated in those areas with substantial Muslim populations. There is also a large African population from Francophone Africa and they may also have their own festivals in some towns or cities. Local tours through Withlocals will help you discover the best festivals in your chosen area.
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