There are 11 French public holidays (UK Bank Holidays). Most businesses, shops and offices will be closed, though some supermarkets and bakeries may be open in the morning. Restaurants may or may not be open but check in advance. Many tourist attractions will be shut or have limited opening hours.
Of these, eight have fixed dates while three are associated with religious associations, so dates vary each year. For instance, Ascension falls 40 days after Easter.
If one of these public holidays falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, the French take the Monday or Friday as a bridge (faire le pont) to make a long weekend. This adds up to several 4-day weekends in the year.
French public holidays that fall on a Sunday are celebrated on Monday. But if the holiday falls on a Saturday, there is no time off in lieu.
Regional holidays in Alsace-Moselle were granted in 1832, when that part of France was under German rule. When the region became France after World War II, the additional days were kept.
Know your French public holidays!
While I do know most of the French public holidays, I did get caught out badly on Assumption Day. It’s not a holiday in the UK and I had forgotten that France still celebrates certain religious holidays. We had no bread that evening!
How the French Celebrate Christmas
|French Public Holidays 2021|
|January 1||New Year’s Day||Jour de l’an||Official|
|January 6||Epiphany||Epiphanie||Not official|
|February 14||St Valentine’s Day||Le Saint Valentin||Not official|
|January-February-March||Carnival||Mardi Gras||Many cities take days off to celebrate|
|April 2||Good Friday||Vendredi saint|
|April 4, 5||Easter Sunday/Monday||Pâques||Official|
|May 1||Labour Day||Fête du Travail||Official|
|May 13 (40 days after Easter||Ascension Day||Jour de l’Ascension||Official|
|May 8||VE – Victory in Europe Day||Fête de la Victoire 1945||Official|
|June 21||Father’s Day||Fête des Pères||Not official|
|July 14||Bastille Day||Fête Nationale||Official|
|October 31||Halloween||Halloween||Not official|
|November 1||All Saints Day||La Toussaint||Official|
|November 2||All Souls Day||La Commémoraison des fidèles Défunts/Jour des morts||Not official|
|November 11||Armistice Day||L’armistice de la Première Guerre Mondiale||Official|
|December 25||Christmas Day||Noël||Official|
|December 26||St. Stephen’s Day||Deuxième jour de Noël||Only in Alsace-Moselle|
More about France’s Public Holidays
Tourist Office of Metz in Moselle