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.

Very small boy hunting under plants for Easter eggs
Easter Egg Hunt Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

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.

Tourist train in Limoges dressed up in Halloween colours with people and children looking on
Spooky train in Limoges © Limoges Tourisme

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!

Colmar christmas Market with lit stalls and snowy rooves
Colmar Christmas Market. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

How the French Celebrate Christmas

French Public Holidays 2021
DateHolidayFrench NameStatus
January 1 New Year’s DayJour de l’anOfficial
January 6EpiphanyEpiphanie Not official
February 14 St Valentine’s DayLe Saint ValentinNot official
January-February-MarchCarnivalMardi Gras Many cities take days off to celebrate
April 2Good FridayVendredi saint
April 4, 5Easter Sunday/MondayPâquesOfficial
May 1Labour DayFête du Travail Official
May 13 (40 days after EasterAscension DayJour de l’AscensionOfficial
May 8 VE – Victory in Europe DayFête de la Victoire 1945Official
May 31PentecostPentecôte Official
June 21 Father’s DayFête des PèresNot official
July 14Bastille DayFête Nationale Official
August 15AssumptionAssomption Official
October 31HalloweenHalloweenNot official
November 1All Saints DayLa ToussaintOfficial
November 2All Souls DayLa Commémoraison des fidèles Défunts/Jour des mortsNot official
November 11Armistice Day L’armistice de la Première Guerre MondialeOfficial
December 25Christmas DayNoëlOfficial
December 26St. Stephen’s Day Deuxième jour de Noël Only in Alsace-Moselle

More about France’s Public Holidays

Easter in France

Halloween in France

Tourist Offices

Tourist Office of Alsace

Tourist Office of Metz in Moselle