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Holiday Effects in France?

Old Feb 14th, 2013, 01:03 PM
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Holiday Effects in France?

Just learned that we will be in France during three national holidays in May: May Day, WWII Victory Day and Ascension Day. Other than the prospect of bigger crowds I'm wondering if this might also affect business closings. I'm concerned because Rick Steves (in his 2010 book on France) mentioned that May can be bad - without giving details) In addition, I nearly went mad trying to schedule an online rental car drop-off in Avignon for May 9 of this year. Kept getting the message: "Drop Off location closed." According to Auto Europe this was because May 9 is Ascension Day. But, a few days later I attempted essentially the same online scheduling and had no problem! Does anyone have experience with holiday closings in France or any further comments? Thanks!
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Old Feb 14th, 2013, 01:51 PM
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I was amazed that ascension day is a holiday in France - but we were there several years ago and a lot of places were closed. Who knew? (I know most people in France are technically catholic, but mainly anti-clerical, and who would think the government would celebrate such an obscure religious holiday?)

May Day is Labor Day (serious holiday) in all of europe.

Don't know about the other.

I would go to websites of a couple of major sites and see what they say.
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Old Feb 14th, 2013, 02:20 PM
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There are actually four: Mayday, VE Day, Ascension and Whit Monday (May 20).

Of them, only Mayday is a legally decreed national day off (though that doesn't necessarily affect whether things open) . The other three are widely observed, but through agreements between employers and unions or staff associations. So observance will vary by organisation, and sometimes from year to year.
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Old Feb 14th, 2013, 03:24 PM
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In regional areas, lots of shops, supermarkets, services, banks, restaurants will be closed or have limited hours for most of those holidays...but each will vary depending on their individual policies. And also bear in mind some French people like to 'faire le pont' or build a bridge to create a long weekend out of them, especially small business or local shops. So for Ascension Day (Thurs) you may find some local things closed on Friday as well. The major tourist attractions should be open though, possibly excepting on May Day...check their websites.
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Old Feb 15th, 2013, 01:27 AM
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The French take their holidays seriously, for sure!

There is a good May Day post that you can search for above. It goes back several years, so there is a variety of information about the many things that will be closed in Paris certainly and about labor union parades and transportation. I think many of the public museums are closed or have limited hours, but I believe we went to the Jacquemart-Andre. Google is your friend here.

On Ascension Day, a lot is closed or opens late. Bakeries usually open briefly in the morning, but many/most shops will be closed with the exception of tiny convenience shops owned by immigrants. Parks will be full of Parisians as will large restaurants, particularly ethnic restaurants, and brasseries. Many/most bistros and smaller restaurants will be closed. Cafes will open but late. Our corner cafe, for example, didn't open until 10, so we had to eat breakfast at our hotel.
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Old Feb 15th, 2013, 02:29 AM
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The May holidays besides May 1st can mostly be ignored by tourists, except for the fact that municipal museums are closed on holidays (Carnavalet, Petit Palais, Palais de Tokyo, etc.) -- national museums and most shops will be open.

Paris does get a bit more crowded for some of this stuff because quite a few other European countries share the same holidays.
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Old Feb 15th, 2013, 03:04 AM
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Other than May Day the store closings are spotty. Usually signs are posted a few days before advising of closure or short hours.

The more active the tourist area, the more things will be open.
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Old Feb 15th, 2013, 07:10 AM
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As far as the car drop-off goes, I don't know why people don't just call AutoEurope instead of driving themselves crazy with the website - they have about the most customer service-friendly people on the planet. They would have told you that, even if the dropoff location is closed, there's a dropoff box there where you can always leave the keys and insurance packet.
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Old Feb 15th, 2013, 07:46 AM
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If you drop the car off, be sure to take detailed photographs of it with the date stamp on your camera turned on so you can prove the condition at the time you left it. Photos of gas gauge and mileage meter are also in order. A bigger problem is some countries than others, but it will take five minutes and possibly save you a lot of grief.
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