Holidays and Festivals

There are 11 national public holidays in France that are an important affair for families to spend time together and celebrate the occasion. The French Riviera is no different, true, in the main tourist areas many of the bars, restaurants and tourist attractions remain open, however, in smaller towns and villages you will find little going on so you need to be aware of the dates for bank holidays in France. If a public holiday falls on a weekend then unlike the UK the following Monday is not given in lieu with the exception of Easter and Whit Monday, however, if it falls during the week then many places will incorporate it with the weekend before or after the date to form a long weekend.

National holidays for 2011 as follows:

New Year´s Day - January 1 After the revelry of the previous nights’ celebrations much of the Riviera will be closed on New Year’s Day including restaurants, museums, shops, supermarkets, banks and post offices, public transport will be limited and taxis will be fewer and more expensive. It would be wise to check with your Hotel that their restaurant will be open so you don’t find yourself trawling the streets looking for somewhere to have dinner.
Good Friday - April 22 Not an official national holiday in this region but many businesses will close for a long weekend over Easter.
Easter Sunday - April 24 Celebrated throughout France with many attending Mass in the various churches and cathedrals on the Riviera and in Monaco.
Easter Monday - April 25 A national bank holiday much like New Year’s Day where most businesses will close.
Fête de Travail (Labour Day) or Fête du Muguet - May 1 This is a holiday that many forget outside of France and can find themselves on holiday not realising that many businesses close for much of May to incorporate all the days off, particularly in the North of the country or in smaller towns across the Riviera. Most shops and supermarkets will close although you may find some operating restricted hours, check with Hotels that their restaurant is open or that restaurants nearby will be serving, public transport will also be operating a limited service. It is traditional to give your loved ones a small bouquet of Lily-of-the-Valley for good luck and you will see people selling these in the streets.
Victory day or Victoire 1945 - May 8 Celebrating the end of WWII, the military generally parade across the country and wreaths are laid at memorials.
Ascension Day - June 2 This holiday is celebrated 40 days after Easter and therefore the date changes annually, as a religious holiday Mass is held in churches and cathedrals across the Riviera and Monaco. As it falls on a Thursday this year expect many businesses to close for a long weekend.
Whit Monday - June 13 Another religious holiday the day after Pentecost with many businesses taking a long weekend.
Fête Nationale or Bastille Day - July 14 France’s National Day celebrations are always a big event with lots of fireworks, military parades and local celebrations going on in towns and villages. Restaurants and bars often have special menus, parties and live music to remember the beginning of their republic and the end of the monarchy.
Assumption Day - August 15 A Catholic holiday where many take the day off to attend church and have meal with their family.
All Saints Day - November 1 Traditionally families visit the graves of their relatives and loved ones and lay Chrysanthemums as a memorial. Many shops, restaurants and museums will close and there will be a restricted timetable for public transport.
Armistice Day - November 11 Remembrance Day is important in France marking the end of the First World War in 1918 and there are church services, military parades and memorials all over the region. Not all businesses close even though it is still a national holiday in France and Belgium although it is wise to check.
Monaco´s National Day - November 19 Monaco celebrates it’s national day with a Mass at the cathedral, a parade past the palace and the Royal family and fireworks over Port Hercule the night before.
Christmas Day - December 25 There isn’t much open on Christmas Day anywhere on the Riviera and if you are looking for a restaurant it is necessary to book well in advance.
Boxing Day - December 26 Boxing day isn’t an official national holiday in France although many businesses will remain closed.