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Les fetes (festivals)

The French enjoy 11 national jours feriés (holidays) annually. The civic calendar was first instituted in 1582; Bastille Day was incorporated in 1789, Armistice Day in 1918, Labor Day in 1935, and Victory Day in 1945. During the month of May, there is a holiday nearly every week, so be prepared for stores, banks and museums to shut their doors for days at a time. It is a good idea to call museums, restaurants and hotels in advance to make sure they will be open.

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Trains and roads near major cities tend to get busy around the national holidays. Not coincidentally, this also happens to be the time when service unions (such as transporters, railroad workers, etc.) like to go on strike - something of a tradition, in fact. Travelers would do well to check ahead, particularly when planning a trip for the last week of June or first week of July!

There are also many regional festivals throughout France which are not included in our calendar. ViaFrance hosts an excellent site which lists fairs and festivals, traditional ceremonies, as well as sporting events, concerts, and trade shows for all regions throughout France.

Under the law, every French citizen is entitled to 5 weeks of vacation. Most of the natives take their summer vacations in July or August, and many major businesses are then closed. All of France takes to the roads, railroads, boats, and airways. Consequently, traveling in France during August is generally not recommended for foreigners.

Public Holidays

1 January New Year's Day (Jour de l'an)
1 May Labor Day (Fête du premier 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)
26 December 2nd Day of Christmas (in Alsace and Lorraine only)

Moveable Feasts

Religion: Christian (Western)

Feast 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Good Friday* 9 April 25 March 14 April 6 April 21 March 10 April
Easter (Pâques) 11 April 27 March 16 April 8 April 23 March 12 April
Easter Monday 12 April 28 March 17 April 9 April 24 March 13 April
Ascension (l'Ascencion) 20 May 5 May 25 May 17 May 1 May 21 May
Pentecost (la Pentecôte) 30 May 15 May 4 June 27 May 11 May 31 May
Whit Monday 31 May 16 May 5 June 28 May 12 May 1 June

*In Alsace and Lorraine only.

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

Metal workers have the holiday of St. Eloi, July 24 (Festival of St. Eloi - French Basque).

Note that when a holiday happens to fall on a Tuesday or Thursday, many French workers may take the Monday or, respectively, Friday, off as well. This is not official and does not apply to institutions such as banks or government, but is sufficiently commonplace to cause difficulties doing business on occasion





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Property update 21-03-09 16-02-10

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