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- the connoisseur's guide to France
SERVICE IS SUSPENDED......... don't be caught out.
holidays in France, when most things are closed
The following days are public holidays ("jours
fériés") in France,
when most shops tend to be shut. Many tourist attractions
remain open during Spring and Summer public holidays. On
Christmas, New Year's Day, 1st May and 14th July, virtually
shops are closed. On other public holidays, some shops, notably some
out-of-town superstores, local foodstores, bakeries and shops in busy
city centres, may remain open, at least for part of the day. There is
no hard and fast rule.
Monday (in 2022
: April 18th) (though not Good Friday
except in Alsace),
- May 1st
- La fête du travail, labour day. A Sunday in 2022.
- May 8th
- Armistice day, World War II
Thursday (in 2022 26th
(Lundi de Pentecôte) (in 2022
14th, French national holiday, Bastille day. A Thursday in
15th, Summer holiday day - Assumption day. A Monday in 2022
1st, Toussaint, All souls' day
11th, Remembrance Day, Armistice of World War I
(though not Boxing Day, December 26th). Sunday in 2022
Unlike in the UK, when a public holiday falls during a weekend in
is no extra compensating holiday on the following Monday. However, "le
pont" - the bridge - is a popular French institution, and when a public
holiday falls on a Tuesday or a Thursday, many workplaces remain closed
for the Monday or Friday too, meaning that certain services will be
closed for four days. However, shops and banks and post offices tend to
open normally when there is a "pont".
Note also that most public
are closed on TUESDAYS - but this is not always
Normal shopping hours and closing times
The standard shopping day in France, from Monday to Saturday, starts at
9 a.m. and finishes at 7 p.m.
Most large stores and shopping malls will remain open all day, with
some outlets in them opening earlier and closing later. Most
traditional shops, specially in smaller towns, will close for two hours
at lunch time, from 12.00 to 2 p.m.. Some will close for longer,
specially those that remain open longer in the evening.
Many small and independent shops are closed on Monday
morning, some stay closed all day on Mondays, notably those that have
been open all day on Saturday. Opening patterns may depend on the town,
though decisions remain ultimately with individual shops.
in France, when most shops are closed
Don't expect to find shops open in France on Sundays. Sunday in France
is still for most people a day of rest, and most shops are not allowed
to open, except in specific locations at at certain times of year.
Sunday is a day for window shopping in French towns, for most of the
year. Large shops are now allowed to open on Sundays in
resorts (including parts of Paris) in the holiday period (which in
Paris means all year); elsewhere, in the cities, Sunday opening
is only allowed on a limited number of Sundays in the run-up to
Nonetheless, small corner shops and essential
services (such as
boulangeries, small supermarkets) can open on Sundays if they want to,
and indeed Sunday is
the busiest days of the week for many patisseries. So in any town, it
is usually now possible to buy fresh bread and groceries on a Sunday,
particularly on Sunday morning. More information on the Shopping in France
In recent years, French shops and shoppers have been
demanding more freedom to open on Sundays. Since 2015, shops have beeen
given more freedom to open on Sundays - notably garden
centers furniture stores and shops in tourist areas.
Sunday shopping in Paris
Paris now has seven "tourist zones" -
including the Champs Elysées, the rue de Rivoli, the boulevard Saint
and the Marais, where shops can open on Sundays. In
addition big Paris department stores Galeries Lafayette and
Marais are open Sunday.
On the outskirts of Paris two large shopping centres ("zones
commerciales") are open on Sundays. One
at Les Clayes sous bois, near Versailles, is
the largest fashion factory outlet village in France. La
Vallée Village Chic
is a large factory outlet shopping village near Disneyland.
Other tourist locations
More and more shops are now open in tourist
defined as places where tourism is a major activity - during their
tourist season; which means that nowadays, in seaside resorts, Paris,
and even in small country towns,
essential supermarkets, shops that cater largely for tourists,
and and some other shops now open on Sundays. Sunday opening
often just Sunday morning, so it is best not to plan a shopping trip
anywhere in France on a Sunday afternoon, except in the busiest tourist
train services operate more or less as normal on Sundays; suburban and
urban transport operators, including the Paris Metro, run a lighter
service, particularly on Sunday mornings.
Particularly in small provincial towns, many shops are closed on Monday
morning - so don't plan a big shopping trip on a Monday morning if you
are on holiday in rural France. A lot of French provincial museums and
monuments are also closed on Mondays. However supermarkets tend to be
open as normal on Mondays, even in small towns.
This is the day on which a lot of museums
and national monuments are
closed. It is particularly the case with national monuments and
museums, such as the Louvre and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Many businesses, administrations and shops will actually shut down
completely for a week or two in Late July or early August, though shops
are unlikely to close during this period in tourist areas. The closure
of public administrations during August can be particularly frustrating.
disruptions to normal service
jams and congestion:
and barricades France has the reputation of being a
country prone to strikes. In actual fact, it is not
a country where
strikes are particularly commonplace; it is just that they tend to
occur in high-profile sectors, in places where they are very visible
and affect the lives of millions of ordinary men and women; i.e. in
public services and in the transport sector.
Public transport is a sector frequently affected by strikes,
bring rail services or airports to a halt nationally or regionally; and
all kinds of workers in France have a habit of blocking roads, ports
and railway lines in defence of their objective. Such events are
strongly mediatized, but actually relatively rare. Foreign
find it hard to understand why blockades are not quickly dispersed by
the police; but this is part of the French way of life, a legacy of the
Revolution and the spirit of the "barricades". Increasingly, police are
brought in to disperse blockades, but generally not until after the
striking workers or students have had time to make their point.
For information about travelling in France, and avoiding problems and
traffic jams, see the Driving in
page. Roads are also particularly busy on weekends
that mark the start of end of school
particularly school holidays for the Paris region.