Why viaducts are so important to the French in the month of May

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
Why viaducts are so important to the French in the month of May
Photo: AFP

The month of May in France is the month in which we celebrate work, the history of France, the world and religion. But let's be honest the French appreciate the month of May for its bridges and viaducts - and we are not talking about river crossings.


In France, you can extend your mini-break by either making a bridge or a viaduct (faire le pont or faire le viaduc).

But what exactly is the difference between a pont and a viaduc? As any engineer will tell you, a viaduct is just that little bit longer. In architectural terms, the bridge crosses the river or the obstacle, whilst the viaduct crosses the river but also overhangs some land.

In holiday terms, this means that you make a bridge by taking holiday on a Monday if the bank holiday is on a Tuesday. 

However if the public holiday falls on a Wednesday, you do a viaduct by taking off the Monday and Tuesday -- or the Thursday and Friday as holiday. Two for the price of one. And who doesn’t like a two day working week paired up with five days off?


Marches and muguet: Why May Day is so important in France  Photo: AFP

This May there are two public holidays that fall on a Wednesday, and they're just around the corner. 

Next Wednesday, May 1st the French get the day off for Labour Day and on Wednesday May 8th, they get another public holiday for Victory in Europe Day (end of WWII). 

And then at the end of the month the French get a pont (a bridge). Thursday May 30th is public holiday to celebrate Ascension so many workers will take the Friday off, indeed many schools are closed to make that long weekend.

And while there are no more bridges or viaducts until the public holiday on Thursday August 15th, Monday June 12th is a public holiday for many workers in France. So they'll get another chance at a long weekend.

Unsurprisingly, French people love their bridges and viaducts and this tradition is a huge boom to national tourism. Many people will go away for a short break.

On these weekends, Paris can feel like it does in mid-August when most of the locals are at the beach.

Although it may not last much longer if the rumours about French President Emmanuel Macron's plans to cancel a public holiday in France in order to finance his reforms

French words to know:

bridge - le pont

viaduct - le viaduc

holidays - les vacances

public holiday - un jour férié



Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also