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POLLUTION

REPORT: Coronavirus lockdown causes huge dent in Paris pollution levels

The slowdown of life in the capital following the coronavirus lockdown has seen pollution levels tumble, according to a new report.

REPORT: Coronavirus lockdown causes huge dent in Paris pollution levels
Photo: AFP

France's stay-at-home orders to combat the coronavirus outbreak have produced a 20 to 30 percent decline in overall air pollution levels in Paris, according to a report from the region's air quality monitoring agency.

The lockdown has taken countless cars and delivery trucks off the roads since coming into effect on March 17, and massively reduced the number of flights at the two airports serving the capital.

The Airparif report said that just two days after the self-confinement began, it registered “a 20 to 30 percent improvement in air quality in the Paris metropolis, after nitrogen oxide emissions dropped by more than 60 percent.”

Major thoroughfares saw the biggest improvements, with pollution levels falling to those normally seen only in the city's parks.

“This decline in air pollution was accompanied by a drop in carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, underscoring the links between these two problems and the joint benefits for the climate of any improvement in air quality,” Airparif said.

It noted, however, that the lockdown had not led to marked declines in so-called PM2.5 and PM10 particles, the smallest and most harmful air pollutants, which can penetrate deep into the lungs and even enter the bloodstream.

Airparif said increased home heating as colder weather set in, combined with continued agriculture activities in surrounding areas, had kept the particulate levels from declining.

“But thanks to the sharp traffic declines, the levels did not increase to alert levels, which would probably have been the case in normal conditions,” it said.

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LIVING IN FRANCE

Why 2023 (especially May) is a great year for holidays in France

Did you know that there are good years and bad years for holidays in France? Well 2023 is a good year, very good in fact . . .

Why 2023 (especially May) is a great year for holidays in France

France is pretty generous when it comes to jours fériés (public holidays) – in total there are 11 public holidays every year, apart from in Alsace-Lorraine where people get 13 days off for historical reasons (that’s explained here).

However all public holidays in France are taken on the day they fall on that year, rather than being moved to the nearest Monday as is the case in some other countries.

This creates the concept of ‘good years’ and ‘bad years’ for holidays, and we’re happy to report that 2023 is a good year.

Faire le pont

If the holiday happens to falls on a Saturday or a Sunday, then workers don’t get any extra time off work and the holiday is ‘lost’ – both 2021 and 2022 saw a lot of lost holidays for this reason.

If the holiday falls on a weekday then most workers get the day off.

If it falls on a Monday or a Friday it means a nice long weekend, but if it falls on a Tuesday or a Thursday then people can faire le pont (do the bridge) or take one day of their annual holiday entitlement to create a nice four-day break. 

2023

In 2023, only two of France’s 11 jours fériés fall on weekends – New Year’s Day (Sunday) and Armistice Day (Saturday).

December 25th is the only official holiday day over Christmas in France – December 24th and 26th are normal working days – and in 2023 that’s on a Monday.

Only two holidays in 2023 fall on either a Tuesday or a Thursday, so you will not have many opportunities to faire le pont this year. Holidays that can be ‘bridged’ in 2023 are Ascension Day on Thursday, May 18th, and Assumption, on Tuesday, August 15th.

There is one opportunity to faire le viaduc (take two days off to ‘bridge’ to a Wednesday) and that is All Saints Day on November 1st.

May

May always has two holidays – May Day on May 1st and VE Day on May 8th – but there are two other spring holidays whose dates change each year – the Christian festivals of Ascension and Pentecost.

This year both of these fall in May, giving a whopping four public holidays, all of which are on week days (although not all workers get Pentecost as a day off, some practice ‘solidarity day’ instead).

Pentecost: The French public holiday where people work for free

Here is the full list of 2023 holidays in France:

Sunday, January 1st – New Year’s Day
Monday, April 10th – Easter Monday
Monday, May 1st – Worker’s Day
Monday May 8th – V-E Day
Thursday, May 18th – Ascension Day
Monday May 29th – Whit Monday (Lundi de Pentecôte – for some workers only).
Friday, July 14th – Bastille Day (Fête Nationale)
Tuesday, August 15th – The Assumption (l’Assomption)
Wednesday, November 1st – All Saints’ Day (Toussaint)
Saturday, November 11th – Armistice Day
Monday, December 25th – Christmas Day

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