9 French Dates for your Diary

Steph & Chris Dagg run Notaires & Alder lakes. Through this personal Blog, Steph is going to describe her experiences of moving to France and living the dream of many UK carp anglers.

Easter Monday was the second public holiday – jour ferié – of 2011 in France. (January 1 was the first one.) It’s worth being aware of when these holidays are so that you don’t have a horrid shock when you turn up at the supermarché with a carful of hungry family and find it shut!

Here is a list of the rest of the public holidays for this year:

  • Sunday, May 1, Labour Day – everything shut
    .
  • Sunday, May 8, V-E Day – larger shops possibly open in the morning; check with tourist attractions before you visit
    .
  • Thursday, June 2, Ascension Day – small shops shut, large shops may be open in morning; check with tourist attractions. Small shops may shut the next day too
    .
  • Monday, June 13, Whitmonday – larger shops possibly open in the morning; check with tourist attractions before you visit
    .
  • Thursday, July 14, Bastille Day – shops shut; tourist attractions may be open – check in advance. Small shops may stay shut the next day too
    .
  • Monday, August 15, Assumption Day – larger shops possibly open in the morning; check with tourist attractions before you visit
    .
  • Tuesday, November 1, All Saints Day – shops probably shut; check with tourist attractions. Small shops may be shut the day before too
    .
  • Friday, November 11, Armistice Day – larger shops possibly open in the morning; check with tourist attractions before you visit
    .
  • Sunday, December 25, Christmas Day – everything shut
    .

I have read that when a public holiday falls on a Sunday in France, it is celebrated on the Monday – but I haven’t seen that in action yet. Maybe it’s just a civil servant thing. Also, if public holidays fall on a Thursday or Tuesday, small businesses may also shut on the Friday or Monday to fait le pont (make the bridge, or long weekend).

Also, be warned: small shops will have their fermeture annuelle (annual closing), usually for a fortnight, at any time during the year, but usually in July or August. This can be infuriating, but it’s the only way family businesses can get a holiday. It is prohibitively expensive to employ staff in France, so it’s more cost effective for little companies to take the hit of two weeks’ lost business rather than take on even part-time staff to cover the holiday period. ‘Entrepreneur’ may be a French word, but it’s very hard to be one in France at times.

And one final thing – do remember that most small shops will shut for two hours over lunchtime.

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