Monday, April 29, 2013

1 May - Labor Day (Fête du premier mai)

 May 1st / 1st Mai - Fête du premier maie
As in many places in the world, May 1st is Labor Day. It is an official day off in France,  national jour ferié (holiday). (In fact, much of the month of May seems to be an official holiday in France.) People give their friends a small bouquet of lily of the valley for good luck and the labor unions organize parades.

Labor Day was first instituted in 1935. During the month of May, there is a holiday nearly every week, so be prepared for stores, banks and museums to shut their doors for days at a time. It is a good idea to call museums, restaurants and hotels in advance to make sure they will be open.
Frenchman caricature
Trains and roads near major cities tend to get busy around the national holidays. Not coincidentally, this also happens to be the time when service unions (such as transporters, railroad workers, etc.) like to go on strike – something of a tradition, in fact. Travelers would do well to check ahead, particularly when planning a trip for the last week of June or first week of July!