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We share the 2020 French public holidays with you as you many not have realised just how many there are

Avoid public holidays when travelling to or from your European motorhome trip

March 4, 2020

It’s that time of year when all of our clients are firming up plans to come and collect their campervans for this year’s European adventure and I have been asked three times this week “When are the French public holidays?”.

We share the 2020 French public holidays with you as you many not have realised just how many there are

We share the 2020 French public holidays with you as you many not have realised just how many there are

Canny clients who have tried to travel to or from our depot on a French public holiday (“Jours Fériés” in French) have learned to avoid them so I thought I’d publish them here and also remind everyone to avoid travelling on these days if at all possible.

I have only shown the dates for France but do bear in mind every European country has some common but also some different dates so if you are travelling between EU states, do check out the public holidays in each country (e.g. if you travel from the UK to France by Eurotunnel or fly in from Italy, it’s worth avoiding making the journey to or from us on public holidays in both countries).

Public holidays are fun in France but try and avoid using public transport if you can

Public holidays are fun in France but try and avoid using public transport if you can

The reasons we suggest you avoid these days is that public transport services will be limited/oversubscribed/expensive, many businesses are closed (in France, even the supermarkets typically close so you cannot stock up on provisions) and trying to get taxis or a table in a restaurant is near impossible. Oh, we are closed too!

There are lots of public holidays here in France celebrating everything from Easter to Bastille Day, here are the dates for the rest of this year:

Friday 10th April – Good Friday *
Monday 13th April – Easter Monday
Friday 1st May – Labour Day
Friday 8th May – Victory Day
Thursday 21st May – Ascension Day
Sunday 31st May – Whit Sunday
Monday 1st June – Whit Monday
Tuesday 14th July – Bastille Day
Saturday 15th August – Assumption Day
Sunday 1st November – All Saints’ Day
Wednesday 11th November – Armistice Day
Friday 25th December – Christmas Day

*Good Friday is only observed in the Alsace region.

Easter Monday is just one of the many public holidays when business close each year

Easter Monday is just one of the many public holidays when business close each year

One other thing to tell you about public holidays here is that if the holiday falls midweek, the French tend to “Fait le Pont” (make the bridge) which means they close or take the days off which separate the holiday from the weekend so if the holiday is on a Tuesday, they won’t go to work on Monday and if it is on a Thursday, you won’t see them on the Friday. Many businesses will randomly close without any published warning and you’ll arrive to find a note on the door so if you are relying upon a service and there is a midweek holiday in that week, do check they are not planning to “Fait the Pont”.

Bastille Day is one of the most widely celebrated public holidays in France

Bastille Day is one of the most widely celebrated public holidays in France

You’ve gotta love the French for their slavish commitment to time off. These public holidays are taken in addition to the 35 hour working week and the statutory 25 days of paid holiday they get each year. It drove us crazy when we first arrived and we felt it was impossible to function here but 20 years on we are taking those days off too and have gone truly native. That much time off makes our hosts very easy to live with and relaxed so it is very much part of the reason we all enjoy being here so much. Don’t mock it, you’ll all be doing it soon!

Don’t be afraid to be here in your campervan for public holidays as they are generally great fun when you are amongst the French. Just try and avoid travelling by public transport on these days if you can.

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