France - National Holidays
During public holidays (jours fériés) all government offices and some department stores are closed. If you are not sure if a particular shop is open on a holiday, give them a call in advance.
Public and private schools follow the holiday programme set by the Ministry of Education. France is divided into three groups, each with different dates for the holidays.
- Group A:
Caen, Clermont-Ferrand,Lyon, Montpellier, Nancy-Metz, Nantes, Rennes, Toulouse
- Group B:
Aix-Marseille, Amiens, Besançon, Dijon, Lille, Limoges, Nice, Orléans-Tours, Poitiers, Reims, Rouen, Strasbourg
- Group C:
Bordeaux, Créteil, Paris, Versailles
Most business offices are closed during August.
- January 1st
New Year's Day is always a day off for everybody. All shops are closed except bakeries, which open in the morning.
Schools and universities are closed for two weeks. Holiday dates depend on Group (A, B or C). These are Winter holidays and many French people go skiing.
- Easter Monday
Schools, most of the shops and companies are closed. You can do some shopping only in the morning.
- Easter Holidays
Schools and universities are closed for two weeks.
- May 1st
Labour day. Nobody works except bakeries which are open in the morning.
- May 8
Public holiday, commemorating the end of the Second World war. Nobody works except bakeries which are open in the morning.
- May (at the end of the month)
Thursday of the Ascension is a Catholic holiday. Nobody works except bakeries which are open in the morning.
- July and August
Summer holidays for all children and teenagers.
- July 14
National Holiday. Celebrations commemorating the seizing of the Bastille by the people during the French Revolution in 1789. This day is a public holiday where military parades and fireworks take place everywhere in France.
- August 15
'Assumption of the Virgin Mary' is a Catholic and public holiday. Only bakeries are open in the morning. .
- November 1st
'Toussaint' or 'All Saints Day' is a Catholic and public holiday. Only bakeries are open in the morning.
'All Saints Holidays', One-week holiday for children and teenagers.
- November 11th
Armistice 1918. Commemorating the end of the first world war.
- December 25
Christmas Day is a public holiday. It is even difficult to find an open bakery!
Christmas holidays. All schools and universities are closed for two weeks.
As American culture is ever present in the world through marketing products, some feasts like Halloween, Thanksgiving…are now celebrated in France as well. Most French people like going to dinner in restaurants.
Feast of kings, Candlemas, Valentin's day, Shrove Tuesday, Aprils fools day, Mother's day, Father's day, music feasts are celebrated by most French people. These feast days are marketing days, as we say in France!
- Feast of Kings
A religious feast on January 6th. Special cakes called 'galettes des roisare' sold in the bakeries and contain a small surprise called fève'. The person who gets the 'fève' in the cake is crowned King or Queen for the day with a paper crown.
- Candlemas, February 2
A traditional day to eat pancakes.
- Valentine's day, February 14th
Day for lovers. All restaurants are usually full and you need to book a table in advance.
- Shrove Tuesday in February
Celebrated with carnivals. All schools organize their own carnivals.
- April Fool's Day , the first day of April
A day of fun when people play tricks on their friends and children try to stick paper fish on the backs of people e.g.
- Mother's Day
Celebrated on the last Sunday of May. At school children prepare a little present for their mothers.
- Father's Day takes place on the 3rd Sunday in June.
Children prepare a little present for their fathers.
- Music fest on June 21st
Celebrates the start of summer. In the evening streets are full of people who listen to concerts with professional and amateur musicians.