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Holidays in France

French people love their holidays and take them regularly – money permitting of course! Most French employment contracts provide a generous several weeks’ worth of holiday entitlement each year and on top of that there are the many public holidays. The classic French family holiday is 2-3 weeks taken by the sea starting the first full weekend in August – and the vast majority of French people take their holidays in France. Paris usually empties of locals at that time and roads all over France are busier than usual at weekends with families travelling. Alpine skiing is also hugely popular and school holidays in February are staggered in order to try and reduce the pressure of numbers on the slopes and to make sure everyone can get there for what’s usually a week. Christmas and New Year are also popular and although traditionally only the main days were taken, the urban French are increasingly adopting the British practice of taking off the period from Christmas through to New Year as part of their holiday entitlement. Public holidays are frequent though the best-known of these outside France, Bastille Day, is rarely a time for mass celebration apart from one or two major parades and events. Most French people are not inclined towards Nationalism, so the day is often passed in quiet meals with family and friends and you won’t see much flag waving. You can enjoy all of the above through the Withlocals experience.

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The Typical Holidays by Month – public and private in France

  • January. New Year’s Day. Some people may go skiing as part of their annual holiday entitlement.
  • February. Some schools and universities will close for 1-2 weeks. Many families will head to the ski slopes.
  • March. No public holidays.
  • April. Good Friday (Eastern areas of France only) plus Easter Monday.
  • May. Labour Day, Victory in Europe Day, Ascension and Whit Monday. Subject to the weather, this is the time of year French families will starting visiting the countryside for picnics, walks and cycling etc.
  • July. Bastille Day (the national day of France). Many schools and universities will close down for anywhere between 8-10 weeks.
  • August. The Assumption. August is also the month where families will typically take their 2-3 week holiday by the sea.
  • November. All Saints’ Day and Armistice Day (1914-1918).
  • December. Christmas Day and Saint Stephen’s Day (eastern areas only).



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Typical Holidays in France

Points to note:

If a public holiday falls on a Thursday, many companies will also take off the Friday in order to create a long weekend called a “Pont” (bridge)

Many local towns and regions will take an unofficial holiday day here or there, with respect to local custom and tradition. These are informal and hard to document – you will simply need to listen to what the locals tell you!

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