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LIVING IN FRANCE

Why 2022 is a bad year for public holidays in France

France is generous when it comes to public holidays, with most months having at least one. But 2022 is a bad year for those hoping for time off work - here's why.

People relax on the beach in the French city of Nice.
People relax on the beach in the French city of Nice. They will not have many mid-week public holidays to do so in 2022. (Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP)

In total there are 11 public holidays every year in France, 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.

All national holidays are taken on the day they fall on that year, rather than being moved to the nearest Monday as is the case in many other countries – this means that if the festival is on a Saturday or a Sunday, there is no extra day off.

2022 is a bad year for public holidays across France as four of them fall on the weekend – as was also the case in 2021. Ironically, 2020 was a good year for holidays – although we were confined indoors for most of them. 

The complete list of 2022 public holidays:

  • Saturday, January 1st: New Year’s Day
  • Monday, April 18th: Easter Monday
  • Sunday, May 1st: May Day
  • Sunday, May 8th: VE Day
  • Thursday, May 26th: Ascension Day
  • Monday, June 6th – Pentecost*
  • Thursday, July 14th – Bastille Day
  • Monday, August 15th – Assumption
  • Tuesday, November 1st – All Saints
  • Friday, November 11th – Armistice Day
  • Sunday, 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

When to faire le pont

The best way to salvage 2022 from a public holiday perspective is to faire le pont – a French expression used to describe the practice of using up one day of annual leave to form a ‘bridge’ before or after a public holiday to create a four-day weekend.

In 2022, there are only three holidays where it is possible to faire to pont – Ascension on Thursday, May 26th, Thursday July 14th for the Fête nationale (aka Bastille Day) and All Saints Day on Tuesday, November 1st.

There are, however, two holidays that fall on a Friday or a Monday, making it possible to take an extra day and still create a four-day weekend – Assumption on Monday, August 15th and Armistice Day on Friday, November 11th. Easter Monday and Pentecost always fall on a Monday and instead change the dates from year to year.

There are no public holidays falling on a Wednesday in 2022, which means there are no opportunities to faire le viaduc – an expression which means taking two consecutive days of annual leave off either before or after the public holiday to finish with a five-day weekend.

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TRAVEL

Driving in France: What is télépéage and how does it work?

Ever seen those drivers who avoid the queues at toll booths and driving straight through? Here's how they do it.

Driving in France: What is télépéage and how does it work?

If you’re driving on French autoroutes one of the things you need to know is that they are not free – you will have to pay regular tolls, payable at toll booths known as péage.

Usually, drivers pick up a ticket from a booth at the start of their journey, then pay the required amount at a booth at the end of it – or when they move onto a different section of autoroute – based on the distance they have travelled.

But the toll booths themselves can be busy, especially during the summer, and long queues sometimes build up.

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

This is where automated pay systems – known as télépéage – come in, especially for those who use the motorway network regularly.

As well as allowing you to pass straight through péages without stopping for payment, it’s also very useful for owners of right-hand drive vehicles, who may otherwise find that they’re sitting on the wrong side for easy and speedy payment.

Here’s how it works

Order your télépéage badge online

Click on the Bip&Go website here and follow the instructions to order a scannable personalised device (up to a maximum of two per account for private users). You will need to set up an account to arrange electronic payment of charges.

The website is available in English, French, German or Dutch.

You will need to supply bank details (IBAN number), address (for delivery), mobile phone number (to activate your account) and the vehicle’s registration details.

Your badge will be dispatched to your address within 48 hours from the opening of your online account. You can have the device sent to addresses outside France, but allow longer for it to arrive. 

If you’re in France, you can also pick up the device at one of Bip&Go’s stores, if you prefer – you will need need your bank details, proof of identity and a mobile phone.

Attach your badge 

Place your device on on the windscreen to the right of the rearview mirror. It is activated and ready to go. Then, simply, drive.

At the péage

All toll booths are equipped with the sensors that recognise that the vehicle is carrying the necessary device. At most, you will have to stop briefly for the device to be recognised and the barrier to lift.

You will also be able to drive through certain booth areas without stopping. These are indicated by an orange t symbol on the overhead signs. The maximum speed you can pass through these booths is 30kph.

Payments

Payments are processed automatically. You can monitor the amounts you have to pay on an app.

Do I need separate badges for motorway networks run by different companies?

No. The badge allows holders to travel on the entire French motorway network, no matter which company manages the motorway, and you can also use it to cross a number of toll structures in France such as the Millau Viaduct, the Tancarville Bridge or the Normandie Bridge, and pay to park in more than 450 car parks. 

Is it only valid in France?

No, with certain packages, you can also as easily travel on motorways in Spain, Portugal and Italy, and use a number of compatible car parks. You can even use them on Italian ferries.

Okay, but how much does it cost?

Subscriptions to the Bip&Go service depend on what type of service you want. A fixed price rolling subscription is €16 a year – plus toll charges – but assumes you’re a regular user of French motorways. 

A pay-as-you-go subscription is €1.70 for every month the badge is in use – plus toll charges – and carries a €10 additional fee if the badge is not used in a 12-month period.

How much are the toll charges?

They depend on the road you’re on, how far you travel along it, and the vehicle you’re driving.

Heading from Toulouse to Biarritz along the A64 will cost a total €23 in fees for a private car and if you’re driving all the way from Calais down to the Mediterranean coast expect to pay around €70 once you add up the various tolls along the way.

You can find out tariffs for autoroutes on the website of France’s official autoroute body AFSA – where you can also calculate the cost of your journey – including fuel.

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