Banks, schools, and stores are closed, the streets are quiet, and the metro is running on a modified schedule. That's right, it's a national holiday in France. May 1st is a sort of Labor Day for many countries across the globe, including France. To celebrate workers rights and the start of the vacation season, Parisians will sleep in, visit family, demonstrate in the streets, and exchange Lily of the Valley bouquets. They might also relish the fact that today marks the start of a long string of national holidays. Next Thursday is a jour férie too, and thanks to a recent move by the French government, Monday the 12th, which marks the Christian holiday of Pentecost, has regained its national holiday status.
I say regained because a couple of years ago this day lost its férie status. You can imagine what a scandale the change caused; France is understandably very attached to its national holidays and generous vacation time. While the official reinstatement bill has not yet been signed, the mere fact that it's nearly a done deal is enough to close schools and other government offices. Those French workers whose private sector offices have decided not to close will be among the unlucky few who have to drag themselves to the desk on the 12th.
With so many long weekends on the horizon, many Parisians will take this opportunity to flee the city in search of some fresh air, rest and relaxation. Never one to miss the chance to participate in the local culture, I too am heading out of town. I'll be spending the next three days in Brussels, and therefore will unfortunately not be able to post again until Monday. In France, even blogs are entitled to a national holiday.