The French annual calendar is punctuated with eleven bank holidays, as well as a number of religious, civil and commemorative celebrations. Holidays and celebrations in France play an integral part of France’s popular culture.
Public Holidays in France
The French observe 11 official public holidays. 5 of them are civil holidays (New Year’s Day, May Day, Victory in Europe Day, Bastille Day and WWI Armistice Day) and 6 have a religious origin based on the Catholic faith (Easter Monday, Ascension Day, Whit Monday, Assumption Day, All Saints’ Day, and Christmas).
In addition, people living in the two départements of Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin in Alsace and in the Lorraine département of Moselle enjoy two public holidays: Good Friday and St. Stephen’s Day. This is due to historical reasons when the three départements were returned to France in 1918.
Our pages on PUBLIC HOLIDAYS IN FRANCE
Celebrations in France
Every season has its share of celebrations and festivals. Here are some of the most popular in France.
Our pages on FRENCH CELEBRATIONS AND FESTIVITIES
School Holidays in France
School holidays (les vacances d’été) play an important part in the tourism industry in France. Their dates are set by the Ministry of Education (Ministère de l’Éducation nationale) and vary depending on the zones the schools are located. There are three school zones in France which are not contiguous in order to facilitate the access to sport resorts and tourist sites. Therefore, the winter and spring holidays do not take place at the same time whether a school is based in Paris, Strasbourg or Toulouse, thus relieving the pressure on skiing and Mediterranean resorts.
The zones gather regional education authorities known as “académies” in French.
Zone A includes the “académies” of Caen, Clermont-Ferrand, Grenoble, Lyon, Montpellier, Nancy-Metz, Nantes, Rennes and Toulouse.
Zone B includes the “académies” of Aix-Marseille, Amiens, Besançon, Dijon, Lille, Limoges, Nice, Orléans-Tours, Poitiers, Reims, Rouen and Strasbourg.
Zone C includes the “académies” of Bordeaux, Créteil, Paris and Versailles.
Corsica and the Overseas départements and territories of France apply different school holidays times. Like in Australia and New Zealand, the school year in the French territories of New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna starts in late January and finishes early December.
The French school calendar includes five periods of holidays:
The summer holidays are the longest and the most awaited by pupils and teachers. The two-month break starts in the beginning of July and ends early September.
Autumn holidays or All Saints holidays (les vacances d’automne or de la Toussaint) last two weeks around the beginning of November.
Christmas holidays (les vacances de Noël or de fin d’année) last two weeks and include Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Winter holidays (les vacances d’hiver) are two weeks long and take place between the second week of February and the first week of March.
Spring holidays (les vacances de printemps or de Pâques) do not always encompass Easter. They take place between the second week of April and the first week of May.
Seasons of the year
France is situated in the Northern Hemisphere and as its fellow European neighbouring nations, goes through a cycle of four distinctive seasons. Click on the images below to reach our dedicated pages on the seasons of France:
When we think about the seasons of France, we can’t help but have the beautiful book of Vicki Archer in mind! In 1999 Vicki and her family made a lifelong dream a reality when they bought a seventeenth-century property in Saint-Remy-de-Provence. In her book ‘My French Life‘ Vicki shares an insider’s view of life in France, telling her personal tale of taking risks, facing challenges and falling in love with all things French…
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