Good news for holidaymakers: most French national holidays in 2019 will take place on weekdays, leading to four three-day weekends, and many chances to “bridge” to four- or even five-day breaks.
In France, national holidays or bank holidays (“jours fériés”) are taken on the day they fall, rather than being moved to the nearest weekend, or the nearest Monday, as happens in the UK.
This leads to a practice called “faire le pont” – literally “doing the bridge”.
This happens when the national holiday falls just one day before or after the weekend, such as on Thursday or Tuesday.
Workers may choose to take an extra day off to “bridge” or join the national holiday to the weekend, giving them four days off in a row (the national holiday, the extra day off, and the weekend).
Some workers may even choose to take two extra days off, for example, when the national holiday falls on a Wednesday, giving them five consecutive no-work days.
In some cases, the extra day or days off may be deducted from the worker’s holiday allowance, but in others the company may give staff one day “free”.
In 2019, only the July 14 national day will take place on a weekend (Sunday), in contrast to 2018, which saw July 14 fall on a Saturday, and the November 11 Armistice holiday fall on a Sunday.
This means that four three-day weekends will be possible: the Easter weekend of April 22 and Pentecost on June 10 fall on a Monday; while Toussaint on November 1 is a Friday and the Armistice of November 11 falls on a Monday.
Two four-day “bridges” from Thursdays will be possible: the Ascension (May 30) and the Assumption (August 15).
For those wanting even more, three five-day “bridges” from Wednesdays will be possible, as the Fête du Travail (May 1), 1945 Victory Day (May 8), and Christmas Day (December 25) all fall mid-week.
With 11 national days in 2019, France wins out over the UK, as England and Wales have just eight bank holidays, including two in April and two in May. Scotland has nine, and Northern Ireland has 10.
[So what that really means, is don’t expect to get anything done in May 2019. Ed]