In France, on a Monday, in May… must be a holiday

PentecostAnd it is. The third public holiday in as many weeks and only four days after the last one! This one’s for Pentecost (la Pentecôte), and technically it was yesterday – the Sunday. I guess as it’s a religious holiday, the date is always on a Sunday so the day off is the following day. That page at has these dates listed up till 2012 as they change slightly each year due to the fact they’re based on Easter‘s date.

Looking in town and talking to Delphine, it’s not as “strict” a holiday as the two previous ones. Super U is open all day, though I think it’s the only supermarket that is open. In Paris, the whole place will be open. In Delphine’s words:

people can take this day or not, it depends the company. It’s complicated, the government wanted to make this day working and you know French they didn’t want to so … people can be in holiday, others not.

Which makes is nice and clear… Generally, though, if you’re heading to the provinces in France and want to visit museums and go shopping, don’t come in May. A shame as the weather for the last 10 days or so (apart from a torrential downpour yesterday afternoon) has been fantastic.

Another holiday

Not for me, but for France. After last week’s Labour day, we have “Victoire”, the French version of our V-E Day. The major difference being that the French have a day off whereas we just get some newspaper headlines about how few of the soldiers who fought for us in WWII are still alive.

I did a little reading about the French public holidays and came across two useful pages – this one on Wikipedia, and this at What’s interesting to note is that, despite having around thirteen public holidays, only one is actually a guaranteed day off by law – Labour Day on May 1st. Every other one is by some kind of long-term agreement between employers, unions and so on.

One other subtle difference is that, rather than picking the nearest Monday for Labour Day, the French just take May 1st off regardless of the day of the week it falls on. For those outside the UK, the only holidays we have that are date specific fall on New Year and Christmas. Every other one, we go for the nearest Monday. Our “May Day” this year was on Monday just gone – the 5th. I’m curious to know what happens if Labour Day falls on a Sunday in France!

Regardless, we don’t get either day in the office. We have to liaise with the  UK, so couldn’t take May 1st off. And we have to liaise with the French, so couldn’t take the 5th off. Ah well, roll on the end of the month and I’ll take a few months’ break instead…