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French expression of the day: Faire le pont

French phrase of the Day is Faire le pont
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
This is a vital part of French culture and planning often starts early.

Why do I need to know faire le pont?

Because extra-long weekends are the best.

What does it mean?

Faire le pont literally means ‘to do the bridge’ but it actually refers to taking a day off between a public holiday and the weekend to enjoy an extra long break.

In France some public holidays change day from year to year – if they fall on a weekend that is bad luck as you get no extra time off work, if they fall on a Monday or a Friday then you get an extra long weekend and if they fall on a Tuesday or a Thursday you get to ‘do the bridge’.

The expression appeared during the French Second Empire (1852 -1870) and had the same meaning at the time.

It comes from the French word pont (bridge) to symbolise linking two days off. In the same way as you cross from one river bank to the other on a bridge, you cross from a Thursday to a Saturday or from a Sunday to a Tuesday.

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See also on The Local:

Use it like this

Tu fais le pont ce week-end ? – Are you taking a long-weekend this weekend?

Personne n’a pu faire le pont l’année dernier en France à cause de la Covid, et c’est bien dommage. –  Nobody was able to go away on a long weekend last year in France because of Covid, and that’s too bad.

Synonyms

Chômer – to stop working because of a national bank holiday (can also mean to be unemployed, however être au chômage is more commonly used)

If you’re feeling extra crazy and want to take not one but TWO days off, you are not doing le pont but le viaduc. Faire le viaduc (do the viaduct) means taking two days off (either the Monday and the Tuesday or the Thursday and Friday) around a public holiday that falls on a Wednesday.


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