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Traveling to France in May can be a bit complicated. We have many holidays, and many extended weekends since the French "font le pont" - they will take an extra day off when there is only one day separating a holiday from a weekend, and therefore have a "long weekend". And there are many holidays in May in France.

In France:

  • May 1st is Labor Day (la fête du travail)
  • May 8th is the end of WWII
  • In May, we have a Christian holiday, l’Ascension (this year the 5th)
  • and  another Christian holiday la Pentecôte (this year it’s May 16)

What Does “Faire le Pont” Mean in French?

Now all these wouldn’t be too bad if the French didn’t have this habit of “faire le pont” – literally “to do the bridge.” This means that when a holiday is on a Tuesday or a Thursday, the day which links over to the the weekend is also off for the employees (who still get paid).

So for example, this year, Leyla’s (our 9 year old daughter) school will be closed on Thursday the 5th (Ascension) and also Friday the 6th – because it “forms a bridge” to the weekend. “L’école de Leyla fait le pont” – Leyla’s school will have a 4 day break (the 5th, the 6th, and then the weekend the 7th and the 8th).

Watch Out For May Long Weekends in France

This affects schools (read more about the French school system here) and other institutions including banks, museums, and some supermarkets…

And of course it has a tremendous influence on the price of train tickets and the traffic on the roads. You can count on major traffic jams.

This year, it’s not too bad: only one long weekend. But sometimes most weekends in May end up being long ones…

Something to be aware of when planning your trip to France!

ponts

“how much does it cost? (to the economy)
“A bag of coal, a pack of beer, lamb sausages, skewers…”
Image credits: Ouest France and Calendrier-365.fr

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Camille Chevalier-Karfis

Born and raised in Paris, I have been teaching today's French to adults for 20 years in the US and France. Based on my students' goals and needs, I've created unique downloadable French audiobooks focussing on French like it's spoken today, for all levels. Most of my audiobooks are recorded at several speeds to help you conquer the modern French language. Good luck with your studies and remember, repetition is the key!

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