French National Holidays

Before arriving in Paris, it is good to know what to expect and that includes knowing when the French national holidays are. The French are lucky enough to have 11 national jours feriés every year where everything shuts down and absolutely no one goes to work.

The civic calendar was first instituted in 1582 and Bastille Day was incorporated 10 years after the event in 1789. Armistice Day was added to the list in 1918, Labor Day in 1935, and finally Victory Day in 1945.

National holidays

During the month of May, there are French national holidays almost every week, so be prepared. Stores, banks and museums tend to shut their doors for days at a time which can make being a tourist quite hard work. It is advisable to call museums, restaurants and hotels in advance to make sure they will be open.

Also good to know: when a holiday falls on Tuesday or Thursday, the French often take Monday or Friday off, which is known as faire le pont (to make a bridge). Banks and public offices close at noon on the nearest working day before a public holiday.


Holiday (French)

Holiday (English)

January 1

Le Jour de l’An

New Year’s Day

March 28

Le Lundi de Pâques

Easter Monday

May 1

La Fête du Travail

Labor Day

May 5


Ascension Day

May 8

L’Anniversaire de la Libération

Anniversary of the Liberation of Europe (or Victory Day)

May 16

Le Lundi de Pentecôte

Whit Monday

July 14

La Fête Nationale

Bastille Day

August 15


Feast of the Assumption

November 1

La Toussaint

All Saints’ Day

November 11

L’Armistice 1918

Armistice Day

December 25

Le Noël


In true public holiday fashion trains and roads near major cities tend to get seriously busy on these days.

Not coincidentally, the French national holidays also happen to be the time when service unions (such as transporters, railroad workers, etc.) like to go on strike — they've made something of a tradition of it. If you are planning a trip for the last week of June or the first week of July, be careful and check that everything is still running.

By law, every French citizen is entitled to take 5 weeks of vacation every year. Cleverly most of the workforce (including doctors) decide, and are allowed, to take their summer vacations in July or August so consequently lots of things can be closed then.

All of France takes to the roads, railroads, boats, and airways in a desperate dash for the cost which makes traveling in France during August the stuff of nightmares. You have been warned.