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French Holidays: Public holidays in France in 2024

French Holidays: Public holidays in France in 2024

There are many perks of working in France. Alongside generous holiday allowances and a 35-hour working week, there are 11 French public holidays (13 for lucky workers in Alsace and Moselle). Here’s when, how, and why France celebrates those much-anticipated jours fériés.

French public holidays

French holidays – what are the holidays in France in 2024?

  • Jour de l’an – New Year’s Day
  • Lundi de Pâques – Easter Monday
  • Fête du premier Mai – Labor Day
  • Fête de la Victoire – Victory Day
  • Ascension – Ascension Day
  • Lundi de Pentecôte – Pentecost
  • Bastille Day – Fête nationale française
  • Assomption – Assumption Day
  • Toussaint – All Saints’ Day
  • Armistice – Armistice Day
  • Noël – Christmas Day

Jour de l’an – New Year’s Day

January 1

The year ends with a bang and beings with a much-needed day off following the New Year’s Eve celebrations known as le réveillon de Saint-Sylvestre.

While hangovers are nursed, small gifts (étrennes) are handed to service workers and others who went above and beyond throughout the year. Hence the day is also known as Jour des Étrennes, a custom dating back to ancient Rome.

Cards and personal messages may also be exchanged, les cartes de voeux du nouvel an.

And ambitious new year resolutions are recycled from the previous year. And long forgotten before the next jour férié.

Lundi de Pâques – Easter Monday

April 10

The second French public holiday of the year arrives with the Easter Bunny.

Easter Monday is one of several jours fériés that move around the calendar. Following a day of egg hunts (chasses aux oeufs), chocolate guzzling, and blowout family banquets, it is a day to relax or walk off the previous day’s indulgences.

Fête du premier Mai – Labor Day (International Workers’ Day)

May 1

Spring is a golden time for French workers. The first of four French public holidays in May begins with the globally recognized International Workers’ Day, AKA la Fête du travail.

Also known as Fête du premier Mai (May Day celebration), it is the only French public holiday mandated for all workers; others can be moved around to fit business schedules. Consequently, you can hear a pin drop in shopping centers across France.

The day was traditionally a day of trade union protests. And still is. Not that France shies from protests any other day of the year.

May 1 is also the Fête du Muguet, marking the midpoint between the spring equinox and summer solstice.

In France, it’s time to hand out mini-bouquets of Lily of the Valley flowers to friends and family. The custom began with King Charles IX receiving the flowers as a lucky charm in 1561.

Lily of the Valley flowers are still sold in tiny bouquets across France. One of the few things you can buy on la Fête du travail.

Fête de la Victoire – Victory Day

May 8

Fête de la Victoire commemorates the day when World War II ended in Europe.

It’s a day to reflect on the traumatic period. A televised veterans parade along the Champs-Élysées recalls when General de Gaulle led the Free French Army into the capital. It finishes with a presidential wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe.

Similar events occur at war memorials in virtually every town and village across France.

Ascension – Ascension Day

May 18

Like many French public holidays, Ascension Day is a religious festival. Honoring the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven, it’s always 40 days after Easter Sunday.

Workers cross their fingers and hope the day doesn’t fall on the weekend, so they can enjoy an extra day off (France doesn’t replace jours fériés that coincide with weekends). Occasionally, that day might be in June.

Whenever the day falls, Christians head to church for services. Otherwise, it’s a day to relax and enjoy a spring day sans workplace annoyances.

Lundi de Pentecôte – Pentecost (Whit Monday)

May 29

Pentecost Monday is an oddity among French public holidays. Since the heat wave of 2004 that caused the deaths of 18,000 (mostly) elderly citizens, it is officially a day of solidarity (Journée de solidarité) when businesses lend their resources to those in need.

Employees may work with their earnings donated to worthy causes. Or instead, work on solidarity projects. Some still get the day off work, depending on agreements established with unions and employee federations.

Lundi de Pentecôte is the day after Whit Sunday and 50 days after Easter Sunday.

Employees may work with their earnings donated to worthy causes. Or instead, work on solidarity projects. Some still get the day off work, depending on agreements established with unions and employee federations.

Lundi de Pentecôte is the day after Whit Sunday and 50 days after Easter Sunday.

Bastille Day – Fête nationale française

July 14

The biggest French public holiday celebrates the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789 and the start of the French Revolution.

Officially the national holiday of France (Fête nationale française), but better known as le 14 Juillet. Or Bastille Day outside France.

Unsurprisingly, the headline event is on the Champs-Élysées. The “world’s most beautiful avenue” hosts many events. Yet none are as spectacular as the world’s oldest military parade.

Aside from attending or watching the parade, it’s another day when citizens down tools to bask in the summer sun and enjoy festivals and fireworks across the country.

Bastille Day flyover in Paris.
Chief Petty Officer Michael McNabb, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Assomption – Assumption Day

August 15

The Feast of the Assumption marks when the Virgin Mary ascended to heaven.

The day is observed in France with poorly-attended church services. Non-religious festivals are often organized the night before to make the most of a summer evening followed by a day away from the workplace.

If Assomption falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, many workers faire le pont (make the bridge) and book Monday or Friday off to enjoy a 4-day weekend. It’s a common practice for all jours fériés that fall on Tuesdays and Fridays. Good luck finding a quiet spot at the beach!

Toussaint – All Saints’ Day

November 1

November 1st is a significant date in catholic France, where Saints’ days are still widely acknowledged.

All Hallows Day, or All Saints Day (Toussaint), was an inevitable addition to a holiday schedule shaped by religion and momentous national events.

During Toussaint, families place flowers — typically chrysanthemums — on family graves and memorials. For others, it’s a welcome day away from the boss and a chance to recover from Halloween parties slowly gaining popularity in French culture.

Armistice – Armistice Day

November 11

Like other countries that fought in la première guerre mondiale (World War I), the moment the guns fell silent on the Western Front (11am) is marked by a minute’s silence. Armistice is also a public holiday in France.

Over 1.4 million French citizens died during World War 1, and the scars are still felt today. Memorials in even the tiniest villages bear multiple names of locals who died, and many events take place.

You will also see the bleuet de France on display, a symbolic blue cornflower rosette sold to raise funds for veterans’ charities.

Bleuet de France worn on Armistice Day
Bleuet de France worn on Armistice Day
Claude Truong-Ngoc / Wikimedia Commons – cc-by-sa-3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Noël – Christmas Day

December 25

A year of French public holidays ends with the biggie, Noël.

Christmas in France is celebrated much like anywhere else; extravagantly. For many, it’s the start of a week of merriment with the longest pont of the year, bridging Christmas and New Year.

Discover what Christmas in France is all about with our guide to unique French Christmas traditions.

French public holidays in Alsace and Moselle

A legacy of the complicated history of the Alsace-Lorraine region means that lucky workers in the Franco-Germanic Alsace and Moselle regions enjoy two bonus annual holidays.

Saint Etienne – Saint Stephen’s Day

December 26

Christmas is huge throughout the region, with some of the finest Christmas markets in Europe. And keeping with custom on both sides of the Rhine, the feast day of St Stephen is a public holiday in Germany, Alsace, and Moselle.

Vendredi Saint – Good Friday

April 7

Good Friday is also marked with a public holiday in Alsace and Moselle.

The day gained holiday status when the German Empire was founded after the Franco-Prussian Wars of 1870-71. At the time, it included the newly conquered territory of Alsace Lorraine.

When Alsace Lorraine returned to French control under the Versailles Treaty of 1919, German public holidays were retained.

Despite being entirely religious holidays, they are an annual reminder of the wars that shaped European history and geography for several generations. And a source of mild envy from workers in the rest of L’Hexagone.

Public holidays in French overseas departments and regions

In addition to the standard 11 French public holidays, the nation’s overseas departments and regions (DROM-COM) receive a 12th day to celebrate the abolition of slavery. Dates vary by territory.

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Dan Forsythe

A politics and history graduate with a technical writing background and based in France, Dan writes amazing articles for all things French. An insatiable traveler, Dan has crisscrossed France, Europe, and beyond. When he’s not hiking or falling down historical rabbit holes, Dan sips tea and writes technical pieces or blog posts about travel, history, and life in his adopted home.

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