In France, like most countries, les grandes vacances (the big holidays) is an important annual event. Every summer, the French take weeks off work to head away on holiday. Schools close for two months, shops close and even many boulangeries.
When are they?
The French summer holidays begin when schools break up and last until la rentrée (school start), which this year is July 3rd (or 4th if the school has Saturday classes) until Tuesday September 1st.
What happens during the grandes vacances?
Basically most of France takes a holiday which means there's a lot of people moving around the country. Which can mean a lot of traffic on the roads on certain days, especially Saturdays throughout the holidays.
How bad is traffic going to be?
Bison Futé, the government-run site that monitors traffic levels, has classified traffic for those leaving for their holidays in Paris this weekend as red – the second highest level – which means the situation on the roads will be “very difficult”.
The rest of the country is classified as orange – which means the situation on the roads will be “difficult” on Friday and Saturday.
Traffic in the other direction – with people coming back from holidays – will however be largely as normal across the country all weekend.
Source: Bison Futé.
A of next week, roads will become even more crowded.
From July 14th to August 15th, roads will be between 30 to 70 percent busier than usual, according to the French highway association Asfa
Bison Futé has marked the following dates as days to avoid: July 11th, August 1st and 8th for going on holiday and August 22nd and 29th for coming back.
Keep up-to-date with the situation on their website here.
Is everyone going by car?
Not everyone, but this year – due to the coronavirus health crisis – many people say they will choose the car above other means of transport to avoid crowding in trains or planes.
National rail operator SNCF has said it expects its train ticket sales to drop by 20 percent this summer compared to last year.
In July, the operator said it expected about 50 percent of its normal sales levels, while August would be a slump down to only 15 percent of normal levels.
Where are the French going this year?
More people than usual are looking for peace and quiet when booking their summer getaways, and France's more secluded areas have reported a surge in demand from tourists – both international visitors and French residents – eager to explore less popular destinations this year.
What do the kids do?
The grand parents are normally in demand in the summer, but due to Covid-19 fears, grand parents may understandably not be offering themselves as babysitters this summer. Local authorities run holiday clubs at schools known as centres des loisirs which will be heavily in demand this summer.