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HOLIDAYS

The French holiday calendar for 2021

From the perspective of French public holidays, 2021 is a bad year - here's why.

The French holiday calendar for 2021
Photo: AFP

France is generous with its public holidays with most months having at least one.

In total there are 11 public holidays every year, apart from in Alsace-Lorraine where people get 13 days off for complicated historical reasons to do with wars and Germany – find out more here.

READ ALSO These are the days off work you are entitled to in France

However there is one drawback to the French holiday calendar – all holidays 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 means that in France there are ‘good’ holiday years and ‘bad’ ones – and unfortunately 2021 is a bad one.

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

But if the holiday falls on a Saturday or a Sunday, then the holiday is lost.

In 2021 both of the May holidays – the workers’ holiday on May 1st and VE day on May 8th – fall on a Saturday, which means no extra days off in May.

The religious festival of Assumption on August 15th falls on a Sunday.

But worst of all, Christmas also falls on a Saturday. December 25th is the only official holiday day over Christmas in France – December 24th and 26th are normal working days, although many companies do allow employees extra time off over this period – so that means no extra day off for Christmas.

There’s also not much opportunity to faire le pont as four holidays fall on either a Monday or a Friday.

Holidays that can be ‘bridged’ in 2021 are Ascension Day on Thursday, May 13th and Armistice Day on Thursday, November 11th.

There is only one holiday on a Wednesday – the fête nationale on July 14th – which means only one opportunity to faire le viaduc (do the viaduct) and take two days off the create a longer holiday.

Ironically, 2020 was a good year for holiday dates, although as it turned out we spent many of them stuck in our homes on lockdown.

Here is the full list of 2021 holidays in France

  • Friday, January 1st – New Year’s Day 
  • Monday, April 5th – Easter Monday
  • Saturday, May 1st – May Day
  • Saturday, May 8th – VE Day
  • Thursday, May 18th – Ascension Day
  • Monday, May 24th – Pentecost*
  • Wednesday, July 14th – Bastille Day
  • Sunday, August 15th – Assumption
  • Monday, November 1st – All Saints
  • Thursday, November 11th – Armistice Day
  • Saturday, December 25th – Christmas

* Pentecost is a curious holiday which was once a public holiday, then wasn’t and is now a holiday for some people depending on where they work.

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

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For members

LIVING IN FRANCE

What changes in France in July 2022

Summer's here and the time is right for national celebrations, traffic jams, strikes, Paris beaches, and ... changing the rules for new boilers.

What changes in France in July 2022

Summer holidays

The holiday season in France officially begins on Thursday, July 7th, as this is the date when school’s out for the summer. The weekend immediately after the end of the school year is expected to be a busy one on the roads and the railways as families start heading off on vacation.

READ ALSO 8 things to know about driving in France this summer

Strikes

But it wouldn’t really be summer in France without a few strikes – airport employees at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports will walk out on July 1st, while SNCF rail staff will strike on July 6th. Meanwhile Ryanair employees at Paris, Marseille and Toulouse airports will strike on yet-to-be-confirmed dates in July.

READ ALSO How strikes and staff shortages will affect summer in France

Parliamentary fireworks?

Prime minister Elisabeth Borne will present the government’s new programme in parliament on July 5th – this is expected to be a tricky day for the Macron government, not only does it not have the parliamentary majority that it needs to pass legislation like the new package of financial aid to help householders deal with the cost-of-living crisis, but opposition parties have indicated that they will table a motion of no confidence against Borne.

Parliament usually breaks for the summer at the end of July, but a special extended session to allow legislation to be passed means that MPs won’t get to go on holiday until at least August 9th. 

Fête nationale

July 14th is a public holiday in France, commemorating the storming of the Bastille which was the symbolic start of the French Revolution. As usual, towns and cities will host parades and fireworks – with the biggest military parade taking place on the Champs-Elysées in Paris – and many stores will remain closed.

As the national holiday falls on a Thursday this year, many French workers will take the opportunity to faire le pont.

Festival season really kicks in

You know summer’s here when France gets festival fever, with events in towns and cities across the country. You can find our pick of the summer celebrations here.

Paris Plages

The capital’s popular urban beaches return on July 9th on the banks of the Seine and beside the Bassin de la Villette in northern Paris, bringing taste of the seaside to the capital with swimming spots, desk chairs, beach games and entertainment.  

Summer sales end 

Summer sales across most of the country end on July 19th – unless you live in Alpes-Maritimes, when they run from July 6th to August 2nd, or the island of Corsica (July 13th to August 9th).

Tour de France

The Tour de France cycle race sets off on July 1st from Copenhagen and finishes up on the Champs-Elysée in Paris on July 24th.

New boilers

From July 1st, 2022, new equipment installed for heating or hot water in residential or professional buildings, must comply with a greenhouse gas emissions ceiling of 300 gCO2eq/KWh PCI. 

That’s a technical way of saying oil or coal-fired boilers can no longer be installed. Nor can any other type of boiler that exceeds the ceiling.

As per a decree published in the Journal Officiel in January, existing appliances can continue to be used, maintained and repaired, but financial aid of up to €11,000 is planned to encourage their replacement. 

Bike helmets

New standards for motorbike helmets come into effect from July 1st. Riders do not need to change their current helmets, but the “ECE 22.05” standard can no longer be issued – and all helmets sold must adhere to a new, more stringent “ECE 22.06” standards from July 2024

New cars

From July 6th new car models must be equipped with a black box that record driving parameters such as speed, acceleration or braking phases, wearing (or not) of a seat belt, indicator use, the force of the collision or engine speed, in case of accidents.

New cars II

From July 1st, the ecological bonus for anyone who buys an electric vehicle drops by €1,000, while rechargeable hybrids will be excluded from the aid system, “which will be reserved for electric vehicles whose CO2 emission rate is less than or equal to 20g/km”.

What’s in a name?

Historically, the French have been quite restrictive on the use of family names – remember the concern over the use of birth names on Covid vaccine documents? – but it becomes easier for an adult to choose to bear the name of his mother, his father, or both by a simple declaration to the civil status. All you have to do is declare your choice by form at the town hall of your home or place of birth.

Eco loans

In concert with the new boiler rules, a zero-interest loan of up to €30,000 to finance energy-saving renovations can be combined with MaPrimeRénov’, a subsidy for financing the same work, under certain conditions, from July 1st.

Rent rules

Non-professional private landlords advertising properties for rent must, from July 1st, include specific information about the property on the ad, including the size of the property in square metres, the area of town in which the property is in, the monthly rent and any supplements, whether the property is in a rent-control area, and the security deposit required. Further information, including the full list of requirements for any ad, is available here.

Perfume ban

More perfumes are to be added to a banned list for products used by children, such as soap-making kits, cosmetic sets, shampoos, or sweet-making games, or toys that have an aroma.

Atranol, chloroatranol (extracts of oak moss containing tannins), and methyl carbonate heptin, which smells like violets, will be banned from July 5th, because of their possible allergenic effects.

Furthermore, 71 new allergenic fragrances – including camphor, menthol, vanilin, eucalyptus spp. leaf oil, rose flower oil, lavendula officinalis, turpentine – will be added to the list of ingredients that must be clearly indicated on a toy or on an attached label.

Ticket resto limits

The increased ticket resto limit ended on June 30th, so from July 1st employees who receive the restaurant vouchers will once again be limited to spending €19 per day in restaurants, cafés and bars. The limit was increased to €38 during the pandemic, when workers were working from home.

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