|French Public and School Holidays 2021|
Happy New Year. January is with us once more and as in previous years, here is my annual post with all of the public holidays, school holidays and other notable dates (and how they are celebrated) in France, for 2021.
This is a post I have been writing for over five years and it always fills me with the excitement of a new year, planning new holidays and looking forward to summer adventures in France. This year, it seems a little at odds with our current Covid-19 uncertainty to be looking at holiday dates, especially with a view to planning a get away, but it seemed worthwhile updating it for 2021, even if school terms may be subject to changes and interruptions if France goes into another period of confinement.
As I write this there are strict controls in place on who can travel to France from the UK, due to Covid-19, and as this is likely to remain in place for most of the winter ski season, please do check with the relevant authorities before planning your 2021 holiday.
Public Holidays in France 2021
1st January, New Year’s Day, jour de l’an
4th April, Easter Sunday, Pâques
5th April, Easter Monday, lundi de Pâques (note there is no Good Friday holiday in France unless you live in Alsace or Moselle areas)
1st May, Fête du Travail (a Saturday this year)
8th May, Victory in Europe Day, Victoire 1945 (a Saturday this year)
13th May, Ascension Day, Ascension (note schools will have an extra day off on Friday 14th May for the bridge pont)
24th May, Pentecost Monday, lundi de Pentecôte
14th July, Fête Nationale
15th August, Assumption Day, Assomption (a Sunday this year)
1st November, All Saint's Day, Toussaint
11th November, Armistice Day, Armistice 1918
25th December, Christmas Day, Jour de Noël (a Saturday this year) (note there is no Boxing Day holiday in France on 26th unless you live in Alsace or Moselle areas)
Faire le pont
With the exception of the holidays linked to Easter: Easter Monday, Ascension Day and Pentecost Monday, the above dates are the same every year and the holiday is always observed on the actual date rather than being moved to the nearest Monday as the UK would do. Public holidays can therefore fall on weekends; to make up for this it is not uncommon for people to faire le pont (make a bridge) if a holiday falls on a Thursday (Ascension Day) or a Tuesday, by taking off the Friday or Monday to give themselves a four-day weekend. This will be part of their annual holiday entitlement, or the hours need to be made up, so while most businesses will be open on bridge days, some staff shortages can be expected. In 2021 four public holidays fall on Saturdays (1st May, 8th May and 25th December) or Sundays (15th August), and only two have the option of bridging to a weekend (13th May and 11thNovember). It is worth noting that in many areas of rural France, although some opening is becoming more common, most shops are likely to be either closed or only open in the mornings on public holidays.
Other dates to note
6th January, Epiphany, celebrated in France with a Galette des Rois (see here)
20th January, winter sales begin, soldes d’hiver, sales are regulated in France and the winter sales run from 20th January to 16th February (a little later than normal, thanks to Covid-19)
2nd February Candlemas day, Chandeleur, celebrated in France with pancakes (see here)
16th February, Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras when carnival time begins in France and pancakes and beignets (similar to doughnuts) are eaten.
28th March, clocks spring forward an hour to Central European Summer Time
28th March, Palm Sunday, Rameaux a day where our local boulangeries bake something different (see here)
28th May, Neighbours’ Day, fêtes des voisins
30th May, Mother’s Day, fêtes des mères
20th June, Father’s Day, fêtes des pères
21st June, world music day, fête de la musique, celebrated with free concerts in towns and villages all over France
23rd June, summer sales begin, soldes d’été, and will run until 20th July
26th June to 18th July, Le Tour de France
31st October, clocks go back an hour to Central European Time (although this up for debate)
In France the schools are split into three zones and most of the holidays are staggered so not everyone is trying to hit the ski slopes or beaches at the same time, although be prepared for extra traffic on the roads on all Saturdays during the school holidays, or better still avoid driving on these days.
Here are the dates for 2021:
The winter holiday is from 6th February to 8th March.
Zone A gets the first two weeks, Zone C the middle two and Zone B the last two.
The spring holiday is from 10th April to 10th May.
Zone A gets the first two weeks, Zone C the middle two and Zone B the last two weeks.
The summer holiday for all zones is from 6th July until 2nd September.
The October holiday for all zones is from 23rd October to 8th November.
The Christmas holiday for all zones is from 18th December to 3rd January 2022.
Whether you are new to life in France, or just hoping that at some point in 2021 enough normality will return to ensure you are able to make plans to travel to France on your holidays, I hope you find this blog useful for planning your trip in the quiet weeks outside of the French school holidays.
The deal has been done and from 1st January 2021 there are many things that have changed for British citizens who wish to travel to France. Detailed information can be found on the following links provided by the British Embassy in Paris, but I have summarised the basics for you.
To visit France, you will need a valid UK passport that has at least six months left on it, and be able to prove you have enough money for your stay, if asked. Your passport may be stamped, and you will need to use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when arriving. More details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/france
You can visit France for up to 90 days in every 180 days without a visa. This includes holidays and business trips. If you want to stay in France for longer than 90 days in any 180-day period, you will need to apply for a visa. Full details can be found here: https://uk.ambafrance.org/BREXIT-all-visa-related-provisions
Food and customs
You will no longer able to bring meat or dairy products into the EU from the UK, so don’t be tempted to pack any blocks of Cheddar or Stilton, or packs of bacon, to help you survive your French holiday. The full set of regulations can be found here: https://ec.europa.eu/.../animalproducts/personal_imports_en
There are also changes to the volume and value of certain goods that you can bring to France from the UK, for items such as alcohol, tobacco, fuel and medicine. Please find full details here: https://www.douane.gouv.fr/.../volume-and-value-based...
EHIC and travel insurance
A UK-issued European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will remain valid until it expires. Your EHIC gives you the right to access emergency state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in the EU. You can find the latest travel advice here: https://www.gov.uk/.../uk-residents-visiting-the-eueea...
If you need a replacement for an expired EHIC, you will get a new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) instead. You can find more information, including how to apply, here: https://www.nhs.uk/.../apply-for-a-free-ehic-european.../.
A GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. It will not cover the costs of private medical healthcare, so you are advised to ensure you have travel insurance to cover all your healthcare needs.
A current EU pet passport issued in Great Britain will no longer be valid for travel. To bring your pet to France, you will need an Animal Health Certificate, signed by your vet no more than 10 days before travel. Full details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/.../pet-travel-to-europe-from-1...
Surcharge-free data roaming will no longer be guaranteed. However, mobile operators including Three, EE, O2 and Vodafone have stated they have no current plans to change their mobile roaming policies and all operators must inform you when charges are about to go over a monthly threshold: https://www.gov.uk/.../using-your-mobile-in-eu-and-eea.... You should contact your operator for more details.
UK driving licences
These will continue to be recognised in France until at least 31st December 2021.
I really do hope you are able to enjoy a safe holiday in France at some point this year.
Please feel free to share this post with your French loving friends and family.