Quick Tip: May Holidays aka the Worst Time to Visit France?

None of the holidays have to do with the May Riots. I just thought it was apropos since my birthday is in May


This was one of those things that was hard to get used to at first, but then it became a part of life, and I have not really thought about it since. Every year I take a week long vacation for my birthday anyhow so I always miss May holiday 2 and 3. However if you’re in Paris (or France in general) in May it will definitely affect you. 

France has four bank holidays (férié) in the month of May. Yes, it is a crazy amount of public holidays in a 31 day span. It’s definitely a lot more than any other month, and it can affect your everyday life because bank holidays mean everything but essential businesses are shut down too. If you’re hoping to get anything done you’ll have to wait. 

The best year for bank holidays are when they land on Monday and Friday because the French turn it into a long weekend (faire le pont) so if you work for a French company, or have a spouse who does, most people will plan short vacations. I think they even do it when it lands on a Thursday. I just remember a lot of hectic, chaotic energy around those times because as an American I’m used to being able to do what I want when I want because nothing ever closes, and in France it’s topsy turvy land, convenience be damned. 

The holidays themselves are Labor Day or May Day on May 1st (this is when you buy those little white flowers, Muguet, that are sold on the street), Victory Day on May 8th, Ascension Day 40 days after Easter, and Whit Sunday 50 days after Easter. Mark your calendars because those are the days when you won’t be able to get anything done, and most businesses are closed. May Day being a particular one because that's French Labor Day and workers are legally entitled to have it off (paid). 

Most of the time the French can't even remember what day is what. I remember asking a few people and they would be like "don't forget the holidays but I don't know what day...". You’ll curse what the French consider the best month of the year. And as a May baby, and an American millennial, so it’s our belief that the entire month of your birth is a 30 day (31 for May) celebration of you, I really hate to dislike the month of May. #TaurusEnergy

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