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

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.

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

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

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Traffic warnings issued in France for Pentecost holiday weekend

Traffic authorities have warned of busy roads as people in France head off for the long Pentecost weekend.

Traffic warnings issued in France for Pentecost holiday weekend
Many French people will be heading off for a long weekend until Monday, which marks the Christian celebration of Pentecost (Pentecôte). Photo: Ludovic MARIN / AFP

Roads will be busy across most of the country on Friday as many people in France take advantage of the public holiday on Monday 24th, which marks the Christian celebration of Pentecost (Pentecôte).

READ ALSO: Pentecost: The French public holiday where people work for free

Bison Futé, the government-run website that monitors traffic levels in France, has put most of the country on orange alert (third highest) on Friday for departures, except for the greater Paris Île-de-France region and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, which were on red alert (second highest).

READ ALSO: What changes in France on Wednesday as phase 2 of reopening begins?

Photo: Bison Futé

On Saturday the whole country will also be on orange alert for departures except for the Île-de-France region, which will be on red alert. And the same will be the case on Monday for returns.

Photo: Bison Futé

Rail disruption for trains to Marseille and from Paris to Toulouse

With SCNF carrying out works at the Saint-Charles station in Marseille, there is expected to be significant disruption in trains arriving in the southern French city from Saturday 22nd and Monday 24th of May.

This includes the TER trains between Marseille and Aix-en-Provence, Avignon via Arles, Narbonne and Lyon; the Intercités between Marseille and Bordeaux (a bus service will be available on Sunday 23rd of May) and the TGV Inoui and Ouigo trains.

The Intercité line from Paris to Toulouse will also be severely disrupted due to building works. There will be no trains running on Sunday, and will restart progressively from Monday.

From Wednesday May 19th, the curfew has been pushed back from 7pm to 9pm. So if you are travelling between 9pm and 6am, you need to fill the latest version of the attestation, which can be found on the TousAntiCovid app.