Friday, 27 April 2018

May Mayhem - it's Holiday Month!

France seems to have so many bank holidays that I just can’t keep track of them.  Often the only advance notice I get is when I see a sign on a supermarket door stating that they will be ‘exceptionally open’ on a certain date – which is a sure sign that just about everybody else will be closed that day and it is a public holiday.  I don’t even know how they manage to find the time to work the 35 hours a week that they are all complaining about, when most places are closed on Sundays, lots of places are closed on Mondays, and as many places as possible seem to close at lunchtime.

In the UK, if a public holiday falls on a weekend it is shifted to a Monday - in France, if Mayday is on a Sunday then that is just your back luck that you get a ‘day off’ on a day that you would not be working anyway.  But the french do find a brilliant way to compensate in other ways; if the public holiday falls on a Thursday or a Tuesday, ie close enough to a weekend, they then take the day in between and call it a ‘bridge’ – therefore taking 4 days off in a row!

May is always a minefield of public holidays – with some years as many as 5 falling in the same month. This year there are ‘only’ 4 – but if you count all the ‘bridges’ there is every possibility that some people will manage 15 non-working days this month! 

This reminds me of an occasion several years ago when I asked a french lady what the public holiday was for on 30th November.  Immediately understanding that I was English (I’ll never lose my accent…) she informed me that it was ‘Zee festival of zer Deaf’.  It was only several hours later that I realized she was trying to tell me it was the Festival of the Death – more commonly known as ‘All Saints Day’!