• France's news in English
 

French summer holidays too long: Minister

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

‘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)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Calais travel chaos
Calais: French strikers put protest on hold
Trucks are parked on carriageways of the M20 motorway near Ashford in Kent in south-east England, on Wednesday, waiting to board ferries to France. Photo: Ben Stansall/AFP

Calais: French strikers put protest on hold

The port at Calais in northern France partially reopened on Thursday as ferry workers suspended protests that have blocked access for three consecutive days. However ferry services remained limited and strikers have threatened more action. READ  

'No error' over faulty breast implants: court
Lawyer Laurent Gaudon (R) and his clients who received the faulty implants at the start of the trial in 2013. Photo: Gerard Julien/AFP

'No error' over faulty breast implants: court

A French appeals court on Thursday found German safety standards body TUV had "fulfilled its obligations" in certifying breast implants that were found to be faulty and sparked a worldwide scare. READ  

French are happier than Brits, study suggests

French are happier than Brits, study suggests

If numerous previous studies and surveys are to be believed, the French are a morose bunch suffering from a "collective depression". But a new study suggests the French may have been misunderstood. READ  

GPS helps blind French hikers cross mountains
Photo: Frederick Florin/AFP

GPS helps blind French hikers cross mountains

Five hikers, all blind or partially-sighted, crossed a mountain range in eastern France last week thanks to an innovative GPS system that developers hope can help millions of people with vision problems. READ  

Calais travel chaos
Calais: French strikers threaten to up the ante
Could the Calais crisis be about to get worse? File photo: AFP

Calais: French strikers threaten to up the ante

As the head of a British truckers association says the army should be brought in to clear the blockade of Calais, French strikers have threatened to step up militant action in the days to come. READ  

Half of France now on alert as mercury hits 40C
The heatwave continues to scorch most of France. Photo: AFP

Half of France now on alert as mercury hits 40C

UPDATED: France's weather agency has issued further warnings across the country as temperatures topped 40C in some parts. READ  

Blind teacher in France told to supervise exams
The woman was told to supervise an exam, even though she can't see. Photo: AFP

Blind teacher in France told to supervise exams

A blind teacher in southern France was baffled to be called in to supervise students during a an exam. Despite her appeals that she wasn't est suited, her school forced her to do it. READ  

French air traffic controllers call off strike

French air traffic controllers call off strike

Relief for air passengers on Wednesday as French air traffic controllers called off a planned two-day strike that was set to cause travel chaos across Europe on Thursday and Friday. READ  

Ryanair takes on French air traffic controllers
Ryanair has launched a petition to try to ban strikes by air traffic controllers. Photo: AFP

Ryanair takes on French air traffic controllers

Budget airline Ryanair has called on members of the public across Europe to back its new campaign to stop French air traffic controllers going on strike. It comes as a planned strike in France was called off at the eleventh hour. READ  

The best places in Paris to escape the heatwave
Grab a book and find some shade. But where? Photo: AFP

The best places in Paris to escape the heatwave

Paris is not the most pleasant place to be in the midst of a sweltering heatwave, but that doesn't mean you have to stay at home in front of an electric fan. Here are the best options for how to get out but keep cool. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Ten beaches in France where you'd love to be during the heatwave
Calais chaos: Travellers left to curse 'striking French'
Society
Why the French are right to strike (but perhaps not burn tracks)
National
It's getting hot in here: France set to bake under 'intense' heatwave
National
Dreading the heatwave in France? Here's how to survive the sun
Why France doesn't have much to lose from a Grexit
National
Frenchwoman dies as bungee jump ends in tragedy
Travel
The most beautiful French villages you've never heard of
National
Can we really feel any sympathy for French taxi drivers?
National
Here's what we know so far about the suspect in France's factory attack
Trouble in France as taxi drivers' anti-Uber protests turn violent
Feigned French shock over US spying is not fooling anyone
Gallery
When Franco-American relations turn sour - Ten transatlantic scraps
Spying on French presidents: What the Wikileaks documents reveal
Sport
Dozens fall violently ill after 'mud race' in France
How a genetically modified 'jellyfish-lamb' ended being eaten in France
Culture
Ten must-visit movie scene locations in Paris
National
Paris to return historic squares to the people
Forget Nutella here's eight things the French should really give up
Sport
What the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris would look like
National
Video: See the cat that hitched a ride on a plane and lived to tell the tail
It's time to lay off the French - They are not that rude
National
Just look at what France has given the United States over the years
Health
France's creaking health service must change if it wants to stay world's best
National
French warn UK: 'Brexit could be your Waterloo'
Features
Waterloo 200 years on: Why it's still a taboo for the French
Europe commemorates 200 years since Waterloo
National
Waterloo: What you need to know about Napoleon
French told stop eating Nutella to save planet
Is it time for France's empty churches to be turned into mosques?
National
How John Lennon's song of peace led to a race row in a French school
French people told to stop scoffing Nutella in order to save planet
Society
French school teacher shows his pupils porn film
National
IN PICTURES: See the blaze that ravaged a French basilica
Video: Tourists shocked by Calais migrants scramble
Society
French family gets letter... 138 years late
The French words the English language needs to steal right now
Bupa
Sponsored Article
Healthcare: 9 questions every expat should ask
Travel
13 ways France aims to become more welcoming to tourists
Education
Expat parents protest changes to admissions for Paris bilingual schools
Education
Test yourself: Just how good is your French grammar?
Travel
France to spend 'hundreds of millions' on tourism
National
French mum's Facebook post about her daughter Louise has gone viral
Land for €1 per square metre - could this be the best bargain in France?
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

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 Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

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

3,582
jobs available