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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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LIVING IN FRANCE

How and when to send Christmas presents from France

If you want to send Christmas presents to friends and family overseas you need to know the deadline dates and how to avoid being hit with extra charges - here's what you need to know.

How and when to send Christmas presents from France

Deadlines

First things first, you need to make sure your parcel arrives in time for Christmas, which means sending it before the deadline.

The French postal service La Poste has the following deadlines;

In Europe

If you’re sending a parcel within France, the deadline to have it delivered by Christmas is December 23rd. 

If you’re sending to the UK or Bulgaria, Cyprus, Spanish islands (eg Tenerife), Croatia, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Malta, Norway, Portuguese islands (eg Madeira) or Romania you have until December 16th.

If you’re sending to Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden or Switzerland you have until December 17th.

If you’re sending to Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands or Portugal you have until December 19th.

Outside Europe

If you’re sending to the USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand or Hong Kong you have until December 10th. Likewise if you’re sending to most French overseas territories, the deadline is December 10th.

For most other countries the deadline is December 3rd, but you can find the full list here

Private couriers like Fed-Ex and DPD have their own deadlines, although they are broadly in line with La Poste, and if you’re buying online each company has its own deadline on when it can guarantee a Christmas delivery.

Fees and customs declarations

If you’re sending parcels to another EU country then it’s pretty straightforward – just pay the delivery cost (you can check how much it will be to send via La Poste here) and make sure you send it before the deadline.

If, however, you are sending to a country outside the EU (which of course now includes the UK) then you will need to fill out a customs declaration form explaining what is in your parcel and whether it is a gift or not.

In addition to standard postal charges, you may also need to pay customs duties, depending on the value or your parcel and whether it is a gift or not. 

Find full details on customs duty rules HERE.

Banned items

And there are some items that are banned from the post – if you’re sending parcels to the US be aware that you cannot send alcohol through the mail as a private individual, so don’t try a ship some nice French wine or a bottle of your local liqueur. 

Most countries ban firearms and fireworks, not unreasonably, although be aware that this includes items like sparklers.

Sending food and plants is also often restricted with countries including Canada and Australia having strict rules and most other countries imposing restrictions on what you can send.

This also applies the other way and France bans any foodstuffs containing animal products (eg chocolate) sent from outside the EU. 

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