• France edition
 
French summer holidays too long: Minister
File photo of holidaymakers on the Côte d'Azur. Photo: Nicolas Beaumont

French summer holidays too long: Minister

Published: 25 Feb 2013 10:55 GMT+01:00
Updated: 25 Feb 2013 12:58 GMT+01:00

France’s Education Minister Vincent Peillon has once again incurred the wrath of teaching unions, this time by stating his intention to cut the country's sacrosanct school summer holidays to six weeks by 2017.

‘Les grandes vacances’ – the two-month summer break from school, is a tradition that runs deep in France. But it appears to be under threat.

On Sunday, Education Minister Vincent Peillon floated his intention to cut the length of the holidays from eight to nine weeks, down to six.

“We should be capable of having six weeks [school holidays] - that’s enough,” Peillon told BFMTV.

The Socialist minister also proposed “zoning” for the summer holidays. This is a system, already in place for winter and Easter holidays, where France is split into geographical ‘zones’, each with a different start and end date for the holidays.

Zoning was introduced in 1964, to prevent overcrowding on beaches and ski resorts, as well as other tourism-related problems.

The reaction to Peillon's announcement has been swift from France’s teaching unions.

"It's absolutely incomprehensible," Sébastien Sihr, secretary-general of SNUipp-FSU, France’s main teachers’ union, told The Local on Monday. "One minute he is propising to reform the school day, the next its the calender year. The parents, local authorities and the teachers cannot understand what is going on.

"It is not a taboo subject for us, but the whole school calender and timetable needs to be looked together," he added.

Christian Chevalier, secretary-general of the SE-UNSA union said “You don’t announce something brutal like this in that way,” said .

Referring to Minister Peillon’s apparent lack of consultation with teachers’ unions, he added “It's a great way to get everyone to dig their heels in against you,” Chevalier told financial daily Les Echos.

The proposal has gained support in some quarters, however. President of the ‘Fédération des Conseils de Parents d’Élèves’ (Federation of councils for the parents of school pupils), Jean-Jacques Hazan told BFMTV that he welcomed the minister’s idea.

“Nobody can afford to go away on holidays for eight or nine weeks,” he said. “And it’s a social reality that more than 3 million children never actually do,” added Hazan.

Peillon has had a frosty relationship with teachers’ unions lately, over his plans to increase their working week from four to four and a half school days – a move which has led to nationwide strikes by French schoolteachers.

Later in his TV appearance on Sunday, Peillon backtracked, denying that he had said he wanted to cut the holidays, and adding "six weeks holidays is the ideal model, but we'll have to have a long period of consultation."

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Assad using chemical weapons: Hollande
French President Francois Hollande pictured on April 20th 2014. AFP Photo: Thomas Samson

Assad using chemical weapons: Hollande

France has "information" but no firm proof that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime is still using chemical weapons, President Francois Hollande said Sunday. READ () »

PSG on course for double after cup triumph
PSG's galaxy of stars celebrate their French League Cup win over Lyon. AFP Photo/Franck Fife

PSG on course for double after cup triumph

Paris Saint-Germain won France's League Cup on Saturday, beating Lyon 2-1 in the final at the Stade de France to secure the first leg of a likely domestic double. READ () »

Freed journalists back on French soil
Francois Hollande welcomes French journalists Didier Francois, Edouard Elias, Nicolas Henin and Pierre Torres at the Villacoublay air base southwest of Paris. AFP Photo/Thomas Samson

Freed journalists back on French soil

Four French journalists taken hostage in Syria arrived home on Sunday to an emotional reunion with family and colleagues after spending 10 months in captivity in the world's most dangerous country for the media. READ () »

French reporters held captive in Syria set free
Didier Francois, Edouard Elias, Pierre Torres and Nicolas Henin. AFP Photo / Chris Huby/ Haytham Pictures/ Torres Family / Benoit Schaeffer

French reporters held captive in Syria set free

Four French journalists held captive in Syria for almost a year were free and "in good health" on Saturday, President Francois Hollande told AFP, saying they would be back in France within hours. READ () »

Euro hunt for French girl ends in her hometown
Europe-wide search for missing French girl ends in her hometown. Photo: AFP

Euro hunt for French girl ends in her hometown

A Europe-wide hunt for a missing 15-year-old French girl ended in her hometown on Friday where she was located with a 48-year-old family friend who was suspected of abducting her. Police believed the friend was suicidal. READ () »

French MP proposes puppy custody law
A French lawmaker wants puppies looked after in case of a divorce. Photo: Robbee/Flickr

French MP proposes puppy custody law

Who gets custody of a dog after a divorce? A French lawmaker has proposed a bill to create a legal framework to answer precisely that and other tricky questions surrounding pets. READ () »

Threat letter to French mosque praises far right
A mosque in the Paris suburbs has gotten a threat tied to the recent election of far-right National Front mayor. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Threat letter to French mosque praises far right

After pork products turned up in the mailbox of a suburban Paris mosque along with a threatening letter praising the town's recently elected far-right National Front mayor, muslims are concerned about a "worrying" local shift. READ () »

'Slavery' protesters slash hundreds of Velib' tires
Hundreds of Velib' bike tires slashed in 'slavery' protest. Photo: Cyril Folliot/AFP

'Slavery' protesters slash hundreds of Velib' tires

Far-left activists slashed the tires on over 360 Velib’ bikes in Paris this week in protest of the ‘slave’ labour the programme’s operator uses to repair vandalized bikes. The vandals could themselves end up 'slave' labour. READ () »

New scandal means more bad news for president
France's president was smacked with his administration's latest embarrassing scandal. Photo: Alain Jocard/AFP

New scandal means more bad news for president

The latest blow to struggling President François Hollande came on Friday when a close aide quit over allegations he'd used taxpayer money to support a posh lifestyle and appeared to have breached conflict of interest barriers. READ () »

French bank bosses to explain 'indecent' pay
France's economy minister wants bank bosses to explain their "indecent" pay. Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP

French bank bosses to explain 'indecent' pay

France’s economy minister, outraged by huge pay hikes the bosses of the country’s biggest banks have awarded themselves in the past year, called the chiefs to a meeting to “explain” their “indecent” pay. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
VIDEO: Take a look inside Paris’s first luxury hotel for cats
Education
French parents are the most laidback about their kids' education. True?
Tech
What do French TV viewers complain about the most? Yes it's English
Business & Money
French tax declarations: The key points to remember
Gallery
French slang: Everyday words you need to know (but use cautiously)
National
Paris cops told to ‘purge’ Roma from posh neighbourhood
International
VIDEO: ‘Anti-French’ Cadillac ad sparks anger in France. See why.
Features
Buying property in France? Here's 10 things you need to think about
National
What will the future map of France look like? The answer lies within.
Politics
'The 27 French regions aren't the problem, it's the 36,000 towns'
Culture
Ex underage call girl Zahia picked to embody Marie Antoinette
Gallery
Buying a house in France? Ten things you need to think about
Advertisement:
National
France bans work emails after 6pm! Sadly it's not quite true.
Opinion
Reader Rants: Why don't the French do charity? Is it down to taxes?
Society
VIDEO: The Paris zoo is back but this time the animals are in charge
National
This will be the most expensive road in France - Only €1.66bn for 12km!
Society
Only in France? Gourmet pensioners party lands village in hot water
National
What's the worst thing to do when you realise you're on the wrong train?
From showers to kissing: Anglos tell Twitter what's weird about France
National
'A big quake will hit France and there will be casualties' - Scientist warns
Culture
After all the dozens of books is France still worth writing about?
Sponsored Article
Why it pays to avoid banks when making overseas transfers
Opinion
Paris or the suburbs - where would you live?
National
VIDEO: Walk the line - crossing the Seine on a tightrope
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se