Ascension Day In France. What Is It And What Do People Do?

Ascension Day in France is a religious holiday + bank holiday in May. Here’s what you can expect and what people do on this day.

By Annie André ⦿ updated January 11, 2024  
scension-Day-France WHAT and WHEN is it?
scension-Day-France WHAT and WHEN is it?

When is Ascension Day?

Ascension Day is always on a Thursday, exactly 40 days after Easter.

Since Easter is a moveable feast (i.e. the exact date of Easter changes from year to year), so does the exact date of Ascension Day.

Although Ascension Day usually occurs in May, it can also occur in June, but it’s rare. The last time this happened was in 2011 and the next time Ascension will occur in June is 2038, 2079 and 2095.

Ascension dates by yearWhat to expect on Ascension Day?

Don’t plan on being very productive on Ascension Day in France because it’s a public holiday.

  • Businesses may be closed or have special modified hours. The exception is in larger cities such as Paris, Montpellier, Lyon, etc., where boulangeries and grocery stores may stay open.
  • Essential services such as law enforcement and hospitals continue to function normally.
  • Buses and some trains may run on a modified less frequent schedule.
  • Banks and post offices are closed and some restaurants even close.
  • Kids have no school: Since Ascension Day is always on a Thursday, kids receive a four-day weekend called “le Pont,” the bridge. In this case, it would be called “Pont de L’Ascension” (Bridge of Ascension).
  • Many workers also take a four-day weekend. 

For a complete list of all French holidays, celebrations and school breaks, check out this article which includes dates and a timeline. 

You might be interested in reading about all the other holidays in France in the month of May and why May might be the worst month of the year to visit France. 

What is Ascension Day?

Ascension Day is a religious holiday that marks the end of the Easter season and commemorates Jesus Christ’s ascension into heaven, according to the New Testament of the Bible.

After Jesus died on the cross, he rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples and to more than 500 others and taught them about the kingdom of god. 40 days after his resurrection, Jesus and his disciples went to Mount Olivet, near Jerusalem and promised his followers that they would soon receive the Holy Spirit. He then instructed them to remain in Jerusalem until the Spirit had come. Then Jesus blessed them, and began to ascend into heaven. The account of Jesus’ ascension is found in Luke 24:50-51andActs 1:9-11.

What do people do?

Just like the US, Canada and the UK, some Christians in France attend special church services to mark the ascension of Jesus to heaven. Some small towns hold cultural or sporting events the following weekend.

Even if you are not a practising Catholic or Christian, you will enjoy a day to relax with your family and friends.

Make sure you have enough food in the fridge since most food stores may be closed on Thursday and possibly Friday too, it just depends on the town or city.

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Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a 'petite commission' at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my links. It helps me buy more wine and cheese. Please read my disclosure for more info.

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Annie André

Annie André

About the author

I'm Annie André, a bilingual North American with Thai and French Canadian roots. I've lived in France since 2011. When I'm not eating cheese, drinking wine or hanging out with my husband and children, I write articles on my personal blog for intellectually curious people interested in all things France: Life in France, travel to France, French culture, French language, travel and more.


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