Public Holidays in France

Are you going on holiday to France? Do you want your trip to coincide with one of France’s public holidays? Read about all the public holidays in France on this page.

France has several annual public holidays, some of which have their roots in the Catholic religion in France, while others are more secular and supposed to commemorate specific historic events of great importance to the nation of France. Public holidays, or Jours Feries as they are known in France are celebrated in different ways depending on the specific holiday and the region of France you happen to be in.  All public offices and schools are closed in France on public holidays, in addition to cinemas to museums and shops; however, for the most part cinemas and restaurants in France remain open on public holidays.

An interesting feature of public holidays in France is that if they happen to fall on a Tuesday or Thursday, the French like to bridge their holidays to the nearest weekend, taking the day in between off and effectively creating a four day holiday.

In addition to national public holidays in France which are celebrated by the entire country, practically every region in France has its own holidays and festivals which are celebrated locally.

Winter Public Holidays in France

Two major public holidays are celebrated in France during the winter season; Christmas and New Years Day, which fall on the 25th December and January 1st respectively. Celebrations for Christmas and New Years Day are very similar to those held in most other countries. Boxing Day, which is on the 26th of December, is not a public holiday in France; however, it is celebrated in the Alsace region of France where most businesses remain closed.

Spring Public Holidays in France

Easter, which falls annually at some time in late March or early April is a public holiday in France. Many of France’s subsequent public holidays that occur later on in the year are indirectly tied to Easter. Good Friday is not a public holiday in France although people in Alsace tend to take the day off on this day.

Mat Day, which occurs on May 1st, is international Labour Day and a public holiday in France. People in France traditionally give lilies to each other on this day which is supposed to bring good luck.

A week later, on May 8th, Victory Day or Victoire as it is known in French is celebrated. This public holiday in France commemorates the allied victory in Europe during the Second World War.

Some time towards the end of May, exactly 40 days after Easter, the public holiday of Ascension Thursday is celebrated.  This is followed by Pentecost and Whit Monday, both religiously inspired public holidays which occur on the 7th Sunday and Monday after Easter.

Summer Public Holidays in France

Probably the largest public holiday on the French Calendar is National Day or Bastille Day as it is often known abroad. The 14th of July commemorates the day in 1789 when the French public stormed the Bastille Prison in Paris, an act that was instrumental in igniting the French Revolution. Bastille Day is widely celebrated in all French cities and Towns with people out in the streets and fireworks displays at night.

Autumn Public holidays in France

November 1st is All Saints Day, a public holiday in France with Catholic roots. November 11th is a public holiday in France because it commemorates the day Armistice was signed at the end of the First World War.

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