French public holidays in France Explained + Timeline

All the dates of French public holidays, French school breaks and school holidays and some of France’s celebrations and festivals infographic + timeline

By Annie André ⦿ updated January 10, 2024  
A TIMELINE AND dates of publich French holidays, school break and some fun French annual celebrations
A TIMELINE AND dates of publich French holidays, school break and some fun French annual celebrations

Every country has its fair share of bank holidays, and France is no different.
Here is a complete list and timeline of France’s holidays, French school holidays, plus a few notable celebrations and festivals. Plus, learn which day is the worst day to visit France, when virtually everything is closed.

French Public Holidays in France aka Bank holidays

French public holidays, also known as bank holidays, are called  “jour férié” [JHOOR-Feh-ri-Yay].

Knowing the dates of all the holidays in France can come in handy if you’re curious about travelling to France and want to celebrate a particular one such as Bastille day on July 14th, France’s National day and the most widely celebrated.

On the flip side, knowing the dates of holidays in France can help you avoid planning a trip during a holiday when services such as public transportation, banks, grocery stores or attractions are closed or have modified or reduced hours.

There are 11 public holidays in France.

There are 11 French holidays in France, most of which are celebrated across France; however, some public holidays are only celebrated in certain regions.

For example, Alsace and Moselle/Lorraine, former German territories, have two extra public holidays, which they kept after they were returned to France at the end of WWI.

  1. They are St Stephens on December 26th.
  2. Good Friday (a moveable date). 

In the historical region of Lorraine in northeast France, has a Christmas custom where children carve grimacing beet lanterns “les Betteraves Grimaçantes,” also known as “Rommelbootzen” in German. It’s very similar to Halloween customs. You can read about it here.

Below is a list of the 11 holidays and a few celebrations. I’ve organized them all by month. 

The four day weekend: FAIRE LE PONT

When a French holiday falls on a Thursday, employees and students in France (FAIRE LE PONT), literally “To make the bridge.” It’s just a fancy way to say, take a long weekend or 4 day weekend. 

French Holidays in January

1. New Year’s ( Jour de l’an)

January 1st.

January first is a holiday that needs no introduction. Much like the rest of the world, the fun happens at midnight on New Year’s Eve. You might be interested in reading about 15 Fabulous French New Year’s Eve Traditions In France

French holidays in March and April 

2. Easter Monday (Lundi de pâques)

Moveable Feast: Can occur in March or April.

Easter Monday occurs the day after Easter Sunday (obviously. Easter Monday is always a public holiday in France. Since Easter is a moveable feast whose date changes, it can fall anywhere between Mar. 22, and Apr. 25. Its calculation is based on an ancient ecclesiological computation. The first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox on Mar. 21st is always Easter Sunday.

You can read more about French Easter Traditions In France: Atheists, Flying Bells, Chocolate Fish, And A Giant Omelette

May and June French Holidays

The month of May has the most combined public holidays and celebrations out of any other month of the year, which can be kind of a pain for tourists and locals because many businesses, services and tourist sites are closed, and public transportation runs less frequently.

6 Reasons Why May Is The Worst Month To Visit France

3. Labour Day (Fête du Travail)

May 1st.

The worst day for tourists to visit France is May 1st when most of France becomes a ghost town. 

Labour day is the only day employers in France must pay employees for the day off. All other days are at the discretion of the employer.

May first is also la fête du Muguet (Lilly of the valley celebration).

4. Victory in Europe Day (Victoire 1945)

May 8th.

Victory in Europe day, also known as VE day and V Day, commemorates the end of World War II in Europe.

What Is Victory In Europe Day And How Is It Celebrated In France?

5. Ascension Thursday (Jeudi de l’Ascension)

Moveable: Always on Thursday, it’s the 40th day of Easter.

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

Since Ascension Thursday is always on Thursday, you can always count on a wonderful four day weekend. 

6. Whit Monday aka Pentecost Monday (Lundi de Pentecôte)

Moveable: 50 days after Easter Sunday.

Pentecost is a day when Christians celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit. It’s also regarded as the birthday of the Christian church and the final celebration of the seven-week Easter period.

Pentecost Day In France: What Is it And What Can You Expect?

The Monday after Pentecost, Pentecost Monday, also known as Whit Monday, is a Public holiday in France. The date is moveable based on the date of Easter.

July French holidays

7. Bastille Day (14 Juillet) or ( Fête Nationale)

July 14th.

Bastille Day is France’s national day or Independence Day, and it’s one of the most widely celebrated holidays in France. It commemorates the storming of the Bastille in 1789.

Just like Americans see the 4th of July as a day to celebrate being American, the French see their Bastille Day or “quatorze juillet” as a celebration of being French and patriotic…Here is an interesting look at some of the similarities between France’s Independence Day vs. American Fourth Of July.

August Holidays in France

8. Assumption Day (Assomption)

August 15th.

This is a Catholic holiday that celebrates the day Mary, the mother of Jesus, is resurrected and taken bodily to heaven. Many families take this time in France to enjoy time together with family.

November bank holidays in France

Just an FYI,  Thanksgiving is not celebrated in France; however, most French people are aware of it thanks to shows like Friends. Here is what French people might find weird or surprising bout American Thanksgiving Traditions.

9. All Saints Day (Toussaint)

November 1st.

La Toussaint, or All Saints, is a Catholic holy day. It’s more of a private family affair where families place flowers on graves to honour their dead.

10. Armistice (Armistice)

November 11th.

Armistice celebrates the end of WWI. The US used to call this day Armistice also; however, it was changed to Veterans Day in 1945 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In the UK and Canada, it’s called Remembrance Day.

December French Holidays

11. Christmas (Noël)

December 25th.

Christmas needs no introduction. Starting in late November through December, traditional French Christmas markets pop up across France during Advent. 

French Christmas markets in France (you may not know).

French Version of Jingle Bells (Vive le Vent), Lyrics and Translation

An infographic with dates and a timeline of holidays in France, French school break, French celebrations and festivals in France

Celebrations and festivities in France

There are too many French celebrations and festivals to list, so I’ve only included 13: some of the more popular, notable and a couple that require a more in-depth explanation, such as Halloween.

Epiphany (Épiphanie)

January 6th.

L’Épiphanie, sometimes referred to as “La fête des Rois” Three king’s Day or “le Jour des Rois” Kings Day, is celebrated on January 6th, exactly 12 days after December 25th— the birth of Jesus Christ. Many French people partake in les galette des Rois (King cake), which you can read about here Epiphany Day And King Cake In France: How To Celebrate 3 Kings Day.

It’s also the beginning of the infamous Carnival season in France.

Candlemas (Chandeleur)

February 2nd.

On February second, while the US and Canada are celebrating Groundhog Day and waiting for the groundhog to poke its cute little head out of its hole, French people celebrate Candlemas, known as “La Chandeleur,” by eating crepes. Here is a little backstory on why it’s tradition to eat crepes on this day.

Valentine’s Day (Saint-Valentin)

February 14th.

Although not quite as commercial or “Hallmarky” a celebration in France as in some other countries like the US and Canada,  many French couples celebrate this day by enjoying a romantic dinner together or offering flowers (especially roses). There’s also a quirky French Town That Turns Itself Into A Valentine’s Day Marketing Machine.

Fat Tuesday (Mardi – Gras)

Moveable- This can occur in February or March.

Fat Tuesday, which means Mardi-Gras in French, is always on a Tuesday, precisely 47 days before Easter and one day before Lent / Ash Wednesday.

This day also marks the end of the carnival festival season.

Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) And The Carnival Season In France Explained

Saint Patrick’s Day (Fête de la Saint-Patrick)

March 17th.

Saint Patrick’s Day isn’t really celebrated in France except by expats, and some open-minded and adventurous French people who head out to their local Irish pubs, if any, exist in their town.

Where And How To Celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day In France

April Fool’s Day ( Poisson d’Avril )

April 1st.

Poisson D’avril means April Fish in French.  Kids in France love to stick a paper fish on the backs of people as a prank.

Why Is April Fools Day In France Such A Fishy Affair?

May Day (Fête du Muguet)

May 1st.

In France, May 1st is not only Labour Day, an official public holiday, it’s also la fête du Muguet.

Muguet is a Lily of the Valley flower (a small plant with large green leaves and fragrant white flowers shaped like tiny bells). It’s customary to offer “les Muguet” to friends and family. If you offer a sprig of Lily of the Valley flowers with 13 bells, it’s supposed to bring you extra good luck.

Neighbour’s Day (Fête des voisins)

Usually the last Friday of May.

Meet Your Neighbours And Make New Friends In France at La Fête Des Voisins

Mother’s Day (Fête des mères)

Last Sunday of May.

When Is Mother’s Day In France And Around The World?

Music Festival (Fête de la musique)

June 21st.

During the summer solstice, people are allowed and urged to play music in public spaces and parks throughout France during “fête de la musique”. Free concerts are also organized, where musicians play for fun. The music is usually an all-day event and can sometimes last late into the night.

Here’s the official website from the minister of culture in France.

Popular Festivals In France in June: Best, biggest and most unique ones

Father’s Day (Fête des pères)

Third Sunday of June.

Halloween (Halloween)

October 31st.

Halloween is a little controversial in France. Some French people see it as an invasion of American culture; however, it’s increasingly celebrated in France, especially in the larger cities, but it’s rare for individuals to pass out candy to trick-or-treaters. Instead, many businesses pass out candy. You can read about how we trick or treat in France here. How We Celebrate Halloween With The Kids In Montpellier, France

I’ve written two other articles about Halloween in France.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Halloween In France But Should

Why The French Hate Halloween and How To Celebrate It Anyways!

New Year’s Eve (Réveillon)

January 31.

New Year’s Eve is also a feast day called le Réveillon de Saint-Sylvestre in honour of Pope Sylvestre, the 33rd pope of Rome from the 4th century

15 Fabulous French New Year’s Eve Traditions In France

French New Year’s Eve Food Traditions: Is It Too Weird For You?

School holidays and breaks for French schools in France

The school year in France for all children begins the first week of September.

In addition to the 11 annual bank holidays, kids have five school breaks. Each one lasts around two weeks except for the summer holiday, which lasts about two months.

If you’re a parent working or living in France, it’s important to know these holiday dates so you can make your holiday plans or arrange for childcare.

If you plan on visiting France during these school breaks, be aware that many popular vacation spots will and can be overrun with French families on vacation.

1- Summer holiday (Les grandes vacances)

July to September.

Kids in France can look forward to a long summer vacation, which begins the first week of July through the first week of September.

2- All Saints holiday (Vacances de la Toussaint)

Octobre and Novembre

November 1st is “Toussaint” or All Saints Day in France (A public holiday). French students get a little over two weeks off for the Toussaint holiday, which usually begins the third Saturday of October until the First Monday after the first of November.

3- Christmas holiday (Vacances de Noël )

December and January.

The Christmas holiday break, not to be confused with the winter holiday break, lasts a full two weeks and usually begins on the Saturday before Christmas day through New Year. Kids typically return to school on the first Monday after January first.

4- Winter holiday (Vacances d’hiver)

February and March.

Winter holidays last two weeks and begin mid-February to the beginning of March. The exact date depends on your school zone, which is based on your location.

(There are three school zones; see map below for distribution).

5- Spring Break (Vacances de Printemps)


Formerly known as the Easter holiday, Spring break begins in April and lasts for about two weeks, sometimes running into May. Like the winter holiday, the exact date depends on your zone location.

(There are three school zones; see map below for distribution).

The Three School Zones in France

In Metropolitan France, the part of France that is Europe, there are three different regional school zones. The zone where you live determines the dates for the winter break and spring break

The reason behind this is purely logistical, to avoid traffic jams from everyone taking to the roads and overrunning popular tourist destinations all at once.

To get the exact dates of school breaks in France, I use this government site.

French school holiday zones in France

  • Zone A: Besançon, Bordeaux, Clermont-Ferrand, Dijon, Grenoble, Limoges, Lyon, Poitiers
  • Zone B: d’Aix-Marseille, Amiens, Caen, Lille, Nancy-Metz, Nantes, Nice, Orléans-Tours, Reims, Rennes, Rouen, Strasbourg
  • Zone C: Créteil, Montpellier, Paris, Toulouse, Versailles

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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