Monday, May 11, 2015

Too many public holidays in May?

The month of May in France is perhaps best known for the number of public holidays that occur - four in total starting with May Day (Workers) on 1 May, 8 May (end of war in Europe), Thursday 14 May (Ascension day) and finally Pentecost on Monday 25 May. Three of the holidays occur on a Friday or a Monday, enabling a long weekend for those who can afford it, and with Ascension day on a Thursday, many French will 'faire le pont' (literally 'make the bridge') and take Friday off and enjoy a four day weekend.

All this is occurring just a couple of weeks after the staggered Easter school holiday, where schools in different zones take their holidays at different times to ease the burden in the popular resorts (something that does not happen during the peak July and August period when everyone choses to take their holiday!)

Are there too many holidays in one month? Most would probably agree but the dates are immutable, due to outside events and religious traditions. One of the results is that some shops close and others do not, some open for just half the day or - as we now approach the third holiday this Thursday - announce that they will be opening all day with business as usual. It is all very confusing, as some public monuments and museums also choose to close, and buses and trains adhere to a 'holiday' schedule. As a result town centres can be deserted and unless the weather is exceptional many families can spend a miserable day at home waiting for life to get back to normal.........