Sunday, January 30, 2022

The official village nosey parker

French Village Diaries recensement 2022 the official village nosey parker
Poking around the hidden corners of the village

The official village nosey parker

In the last ten days, I’ve covered over one hundred kilometres on my bike just noseying around our commune. In addition to the main village where the Mairie is situated, the commune is a collection of six small hamlets, with over two hundred properties, covering an area just over twenty kilometres squared. 


I’ve poked my nose into gardens, driveways and narrow lanes I’ve never before noticed. I’ve peered into letterboxes, noted whether shutters are always closed and whether cars come and go. In short, I’ve been a real village nosey parker. I’ve rung doorbells, knocked on doors and been welcomed into stranger’s homes - surprisingly often by dressing gown clad mamies and papis. I’ve met new people, caught up with those I’ve not spoken to in a while and shared a smile and a chat with those who don’t see many visitors. Welcome to the world of the census agent.


Recensement de la population - 2022

In France, the census is carried out on a rolling five-year basis, with different communes of under 10,000 residents being counted each year. For the larger towns and cities, a percentage of the districts are counted each year and the data extrapolated. 


My friend, and local author, Alison Morton, who is more knowledgeable on the Romans than the Romans, has this to say on the history of the census, which she’s kindly let me share:


The censor in Ancient Rome was a magistrate responsible for maintaining the census, supervising public morality, and overseeing certain aspects of the government's finances.


The power of the censor was absolute: no magistrate could oppose his decisions, and only another censor who succeeded him could cancel those decisions. The censor's regulation of public morality is the origin of the modern meaning of the words censor and censorship.


This might have made me feel rather important if it weren’t for the reality check of knocking on doors and trying to drum up enthusiasm for the occupant to fill in their census forms. This is the fourth census since we’ve lived here, and I think it says something that I am the fourth different person to be the census agent. This year, INSEE (French national statistics office) are encouraging those who can, to fill in their questionnaires online, thus reducing the contact risk of the agent having to sit at every kitchen table as forms are completed. While I am enjoying the social contact and organisational aspect of the role, I have to admit my covid contamination riskometer is being tested to its limits and my smile has sometimes slipped behind my mask. 


The census runs from 20th January to 19th February and to date, I’ve had a response rate of just over 50%. There are 18% of houses that are empty or second homes, which aren’t counted, and I’m still waiting for the remaining 30% to reply. I’ve certainly had more warm welcomes from the older people and more empty promises to fill in the online questionnaires from the younger residents. I also noticed that it was those who are recent arrivals to the village who were among the first to respond. 


French Village Diaries recensement 2022 the official village nosey parker
Have you seen this Ewok?

My reputation as the funny (mad) Englishwoman on her bike has been reinforced and I must look quite a sight at their door hidden beneath a cycle helmet with fleecy under hat, mask and cosy coat, juggling gloves, pens, glasses and my bright red clipboard. Some days the temperature hasn’t risen above -3ºc and even with two pairs of gloves, my fingers have been like blocks of ice. January seems a cruel month to hold the census and it could be a long three weeks until it comes to an end.


When your commune holds its census, please spare a thought for the census agent and fill in your form online. It’s easy to do and really doesn’t take too much time. The more people counted, the more money your commune will receive from the State, so the healthier the budget the council have to work with. Thank you.


You might enjoy checking out some of Alison Morton’s books, so I’ve added their Amazon links to the bottom of this post.


From the Writing Desk my interview with Alison Morton 

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Book review of Tree Sacrifice by Harriet Springbett

French Village Diaries book review Tree Sacrifice by Harriet Springbett
Tree Sacrifice by Harriet Springbett

Tree Sacrifice by Harriet Springbett


A suicide pact. A new responsibility. A desperate bid for harmony. 


As Rainbow leaves Brocéliande forest after the events of Tree Slayer, she learns that a much greater challenge faces her. Exasperated by mankind's disrespect for trees, the One Tree has set a terrible event into motion. Rainbow is strictly forbidden from intervening, but thousands of trees across France could die unless she does so. 


Her search for guidance will take her to England, where a startling discovery makes sense of her gift and opens new perspectives. She must take the hardest decision of her life. But will her and Eole's sacrifices be enough to save the French forests? 


Unknown to Rainbow, help is close by. But it lies in a different world, a parallel world where mankind lives in unity with trees. There, Druana must decide whether she's prepared to risk everything to rebalance her world. 


Will Druana and Rainbow ever meet? What would be the cost? For everything gained, something must be lost. 


My review

It was a delight to be back with Rainbow and Eole in the third, and final, step of their mission to save the trees of France and fight for a world where humans can live without destroying trees. Many things have changed since we left them in Tree Slayer, for Rainbow, for Eole, and in their lives outside of their special tree partnership. Rainbow needs to learn to prioritise the tasks ahead of her, as well as learn the importance of patience. Eole is struggling to understand where he fits in. Despite nothing seeming to go to plan, Rainbow and Eole are a good team who balance each other well, something that is tested in this book more than in the last book.


This might not be a book written for adults, but there was plenty to keep my interest and keep me guessing as to how it would end. It deals well with complex adolescence emotions and relationships, as well as decision making and responsibility, along with an engaging storyline that touched my tree soul. There were so many little details that I loved in this book from Druana sinking her bare feet into the soil and connecting with the tree roots, to Rainbow’s sense of calm and peace as she melts into the trunk of a tree. I might even have detected a bit of inner jealousy as I was reading.


This is a book to make you think about trees and our relationship with them. It’s as refreshing as time spent in a forest glade watching the patterns as the leaves dance in the sunlight and feeling the breeze on your face. If you are anything like me, you’ll want to hug the next magnificent tree you come across. I’ve even been looking up Brocéliande (a Brittany forest full of myth and legend) and I hope one day to cycle my bike there and feel a little of the tree magic Harriet has created in this series. 

French Village Diaries book review Tree Sacrifice by Harriet Springbett
Brocéliande Forest, Brittany


This is the third and final book in the series and although I am sad I won’t get to visit Rainbow again, it came to natural end I was happy with. Sometimes if we feel we don’t belong, it’s not that we are odd, just that we haven’t found the right people to hang around with. I’d love for this book to become the book to read for teenagers (think Harry Potter but with so much more than just magic), who then go on to set up their own TreeWise associations, following Rainbow’s lead to save our trees and planet.


The young adult genre might not be your usual read, but I’d encourage you to read the Tree Magic trilogy and share it with the young people in your life.


You can read my reviews of books one and two by clicking on the links here:


Book review of Tree Magic

Book review of Tree Slayer


Purchase Links  

Author Bio

Although Harriet Springbett always wrote stories in her West Dorset home, she qualified and worked as an engineer. During a Raleigh International expedition in Chile she realised writing and discovering life were more important to her than her career. She moved to France, where she studied French at Pau University and then worked as a project manager, feature writer, translator and TEFL teacher. She now lives in Poitou-Charentes with her French partner and their teenage children.


Since her first literary success, aged 10, her short stories and poetry have been published in literary journals and placed in writing competitions, including a shortlisting in the renowned Bath Short Story Award. She leads writing workshops, has judged the Segora international short story competition and blogs (very irregularly). Her publisher, Impress Books, now has 3 of her novels and she’s working on her fourth.


Author Social Media 






Video interview about the series 


You might also like to read my France et Moi interview with Harriet here.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Winter warmers

French Village Diaries winter warmers I'm with Ovo
Wrapped up warm on a winter bike ride

I’m with Ovo

If I mention UK news headlines this week and the phrases ‘embarrassing’, ‘poorly judged and unhelpful’, you might think I’d be referring to Boris’s ‘bring your own booze’ garden party, but you’d be wrong. The less said about that clown the better.


Ovo Energy, a UK based energy supplier, have also been in the news for a ‘keeping warm without upping your heating’ blog post, that they have now withdrawn. Their novel ideas included, putting on another jumper, eating porridge, doing the housework, hugging a pet or hula hooping with your kids. Well, no shit sherlock, this isn’t news - my wise old Dad said pretty much the same thing forty years ago, whenever I complained my bedroom was too cold. It was either “put another jumper on”, or “get outside and rake up some leaves, that will warm you up”.


Obviously, as a teenager I wasn’t interested in listening and I certainly wasn’t interested in moving my body to create heat. Back then I was much more into reading and complaining than exercising. Moving to a large, draughty house with a cantankerous old boiler, combined with the reality that France did get cold in the winter, meant I soon remembered Dad’s words and learned how to keep warm. If we heated our house to a constant 20º, not only would it cost many more thousands of euros than we have, but with only two of us floating around, mainly using one or two rooms at a time, it would be ever so wasteful. I don’t do wasteful. Most of what Ovo wrote in their blog, I’ve been practicing and writing about for many winters.

French Village Diaries winter warmers I'm with Ovo
Hug a pet - Mini turns 14


Layer like an onion 

I am never to be found without a vest from October to May, and for most of the really cold months, I’ll wear a vest under a thermal long-sleeved vest and any number of additional layers on top, all carefully tucked in. Exciting editions to our wardrobe this season include fleecy lined walking trousers, from sports chain Decathlon, ideal for those extreme randonées with a wind chill well into the -ºc’s. Obviously, with Mini having celebrated her fourteenth birthday this week (that’s about 103 in equivalent years), if it’s that cold outside, we won’t be out walking, but these new buys have ensured we’ve kept warm indoors. Combined with the thermal socks (from Decathlon again) tucked into my fur-lined boot/slippers, my toes are toasty and I’ve no need for any E.On Energy socks – another UK news oops this weekend (it must be the week for it).

French Village Diaries winter warmers I'm with Ovo
Winter vegetable soup


Porridge and soup 

I have been writing a regular five-hundred-word article for The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, a local English language magazine, for ten years now and looking back in my archives to January 2013, I was singing the praises of what I called ‘porridge and soup’ season.


“Winter has arrived, the days are short, the trees are bare and the temperatures have plummeted, but am I down? Well sometimes, I have to admit, yes, I am. It is at this time of year that my thoughts turn to comfort food. Gone are the vibrant coloured salads of summer that cheered up my plates with home grown delights but have no fear for we have arrived at what I call ‘porridge and soup’ season.”


Winter food should be different from summer food, that is the beauty of eating seasonally. The vegetables available now are perfect for thick soups made with homemade pork broth and warming curry spices, that put a fire in my belly all afternoon. Porridge oats are another favourite for us and I’m sure anyone who grew up in 1980’s Britain must remember the Ready Brek (finely milled porridge oat cereal) advert? Who didn’t want a warm orange glow around them as they walked to school on a cold and frosty morning?

French Village Diaries winter warmers I'm with Ovo
Trying out my Hula Hoop for the first time in 2020


Hula hooping

In March 2020, just before you-know-what hit us, my Deux-Sèvres Monthly article was all about ‘hoop and soup’.

“Always happy to find a healthy distraction from the mundane monotony of life, I’ve got a new exercise obsession. Thanks to a couple of nutty friends, I am now the proud owner of a hefty hula hoop, and when I say hefty, I mean 1.2kg of weighty hoop that massages you (think thumps) as it rolls around. Once you have mastered the moves and get past the awkward stage where you look like you’ve stuck your fingers in a plug socket, it’s a really fun way to exercise.” 

Ovo are right, it's also a great way of keeping warm and I often use it as a pre-yoga warm up over winter. Our other top tip for keeping warm is to get out on the bikes. Even if I get home with cold, red cheeks and nose, the rest of me is nice and warm whatever the temperature outside, and the colours on crisp winter sunset bike rides are a tonic for the mind as well as the body.


If there is one thing I could have told my younger self, it would be ‘to be more active’, so I’m with Ovo and agree with what they were saying, even if they maybe could have phrased things better. Another positive of these ideas is Susie Kelly’s Best Foot Forward, one of the first books I read and reviewed on the blog and her story of a long-distance walk from La Rochelle to Geneva, inspired by the need to move to keep warm during cold French winters. To think this book wouldn’t have existed if she’d just turned up her heating, is quite sad.

French Village Diaries winter warmers I'm with Ovo
A chilly morning view from the orchard


Temperatures have been below 0ºc these last few days, with crisp clear nights, heavy frosts and sunny days, but I’d much rather this than warmer, wetter weather.  

Sunday, January 9, 2022

One week in, counting my hats and blessings, among other things

French Village Diaries one week in, counting my hats and blessings, among other things
Silly hats for story time 

One week in, counting my hats and blessings, among other things


If you told me it was the 29th January today, I’d have believed you, as it’s been so busy, I can’t believe the new year is only just over a week old.


I do love a hat (as these silly photos from the library last year show) and I seem to have worn many different ones this week, the first one being my accountant hat. This is not one I feel overly comfortable wearing these days, but one I have to dust off each quarter end to prepare the company figures for our French accountant. I’m pleased to say it’s almost ready to go back into its hat box once again. 

French Village Diaries one week in, counting my hats and blessings, among other things
My bear hunt story time hat

On Tuesday I got to put my full-time Mum hat back on as Ed came home to spend the week with us. This hat is one of my old favourites, slightly weathered and worn in places but always a pleasure to wear. I have to admit though, it slipped slightly yesterday, as when Ed left to go back to Poitiers, I packed him off with lots of fresh vegetables and some sensible tins, but totally forgot the galette des rois that I’d bought for him and Pearl. This frangipane filled, puff pastry delight, eaten in France for the Epiphany is always a family favourite here.


On Wednesday and Thursday, it put a big smile on my face to wear my village volunteer hat once again, as it hasn’t had much use since Covid-19 hit. It was my turn to open the library on Wednesday, where I also trialled a French vocab session with an English friend, and on Thursday our little team folded, stapled and delivered the first village magazine of the year.


French Village Diaries one week in, counting my hats and blessings, among other things
My Queen's story time hat

On Friday it was the turn of my supportive wife (and translator) hat as Adrian had his first outpatient cardiologist appointment, following his week in hospital last year. With the current Covid-19 situation being seriously scary here in France, we weren’t sure I would be allowed to accompany him in, but aside from scanning our vaccinations certificates at the main door, there were no restrictions. This was just as well as I also have a Niort hospital tour guide hat, so knew exactly where we needed to be, which was more than he did. I had all the paperwork ready and did most of the talking, right up to delivering him safely to the nurse and cardiologist who would supervise his bike stress test. I then sat outside and lost myself in an adventure book (cycling in the Pyrenees) while he pedalled away as if his life depended on it. 


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, cycling doesn’t stress Adrian out, it relaxes him, so it was no surprise to be called back in and told to take him home and not to bring him back. They had never seen anyone produce such high numbers, or be in such good physical shape, and the cardiologist has cancelled his follow-up appointment that was scheduled for later this month and doesn’t want to see him again. This was brilliant news to start the new year with. I’m used to hospital visits as a translator, but it’s been quite a different experience with it being for Adrian, so I’m happy to leave that hat to one side for now.


French Village Diaries one week in, counting my hats and blessings, among other things
My clowning around story time hat

I’ve also been fitted for a brand new hat this week, my census agent hat. In France, all communes of under ten thousand habitants carry out a census every five years and employ an agent to ensure all the households get the information required to complete the questionnaire. I’ve attended my first training session and started making my way, by bike, around all the roads in the village, checking off house numbers and letterboxes on my list. The great thing about the census this year is that for the majority of households, all that will be required of me is to drop their unique access code in their letterbox later on this month. The only direct contact will be with those who don’t respond in the allowed time, or those who can’t use the online system. This will be the first time a census has been carried out since Covid-19, so minimising the amount of contact, will reduce the risk to us all. This new hat seems to fit quite nicely and is turning out to be an interesting one to wear.


French Village Diaries one week in, counting my hats and blessings, among other things
My cycling helmet (with warm hat underneath)

Then there is my trusty cycling helmet that has accompanied me to the Mairie, to the library and around the village whilst counting houses. I never go out on the bike without it, even if it is only a few kilometres around the village, which is about all I’ve managed each day as there has been so much going on.


With a new mini-job to keep me out of trouble, an unexpected week with Ed and a healthy husband, it’s been a good start to the year. 


Do you have a favourite hat you like to wear? 

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Book review of The Woman Who Came Back to Life by Beth Miller

French Village Diaries book review The Woman Who Came Back to Life Beth Miller
The Woman Who Came Back to Life by Beth Miller

The Woman Who Came Back to Life by Beth Miller


It’s never too late for a second chance at happiness…

Pearl Flowers 
has been hiding away for so long that she has forgotten what real life is like. Her quiet routine in a woodland cottage in France is a sanctuary, far away from her past life running a beauty salon. But even when she is sitting at the foot of a beech tree with her drawing pad, surrounded by birdsong, her mind is never still. If she keeps herself distracted and far away, her past can’t hurt her… can it?

But then an unexpected phone call throws her calm world into chaos. Back in the UK, her estranged father Francis is dying. She hasn’t seen him for decades since he pushed her away and destroyed their family. And on his death-bed, Francis leaves her a gift – a diary, written in a code that only Pearl can understand.

As she begins to read her father’s diary, Pearl discovers that for forty years he had been thinking of her almost every day. And as she reads on, secrets begin to emerge from the pages causing her to question everything she thought she knew.

Reeling from the diary’s revelations, Pearl realises that the only way to heal and find true happiness is to face the past. But is she ready to confront her deepest secret, the one she’s been running from all this time?

This utterly tear-jerking and heartwarming novel is for anyone who knows it’s never too late to find happiness. Fans of Matt Haig, Mike Gayle and Camille Pagán will fall in love with this beautiful, feel-good story.


French Village Diaries book review The Woman Who Came Back to Life Beth Miller
The Woman Who Came Back to Life 


My review

Families can be strange things and often when upsets occur, everyone has their own feelings on who is right, and who is in the wrong, that ricochet through the generations. Pearl is about to discover that even when it’s too late to talk in person, and even after decades of hurt, things can change, if you are open to those changes.


The raw emotions that Pearl experiences as she relives past traumas through her late father’s diaries, felt very real as I read it. It took bravery to open these old wounds, but with it came a different understanding of the hurt and pain she’d carried with her for her adult life. 


This is a book that is packed full of difficult family situations, for so many of the characters, from divorce, loss and adoption, to forgiveness, reconciliation and love. My emotions were all over the place. With the sadness and upsetting situations, this wasn’t a book that raised my spirits, but it was one that made me think about relationships and how we treat those around us. It is also a cleverly crafted journey of recovery, where understanding and forgiveness lead the characters on to new beginnings. 


Like Pearl, I’m happy to shut myself away in my French hideaway, but this book has highlighted the importance of extended family and the sad fact that since Covid-19, we’ve missed out on seeing our families in the UK. I found it a complex and compelling read, and once I’d started it, I had to know how it would end. It was also one of those unusual books where I couldn’t second guess where it was going to take me, and it was certainly different from many of the books I usually read.


Purchase Links  






French Village Diaries book review The Woman Who Came Back to Life Beth Miller
Beth Miller

Author Bio


I have been told that I write like a tall blonde, so that's how I'd like you to picture me.


I've published five novels. The most recent, 'Starstruck', came out in August 2021. The previous one, 'The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright', was a top twenty Kindle bestseller. I've also published two non-fiction books. I work as a book coach and creative writing tutor.


Before writing books, I did a lot of different jobs. I worked in schools, shops, offices, hospitals, students' unions, basements, from home, in my car, and up a tree. OK, not up a tree. I've been a sexual health trainer, a journalist, a psychology lecturer, a PhD student, a lousy alcohol counsellor, and an inept audio-typist. I sold pens, bread, and condoms. Not in the same shop. I taught parents how to tell if their teenagers are taking drugs (clue: they act like teenagers), and taught teenagers how to put on condoms (clue: there won't really be a cucumber). I taught rabbis how to tell if their teenagers are druggedly putting condoms on cucumbers.


Throughout this, I always wrote, and always drank a lot of tea. I'm now pretty much unbeatable at drinking tea.


Author Social Media 


Twitter @drbethmiller 


Instagram @beth_miller_author 



Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Book review of The Girl from Paris by Ella Carey

French Village Diaries book review The Girl from Paris Ella Carey Bookouture
The Girl from Paris by Ella Carey

The Girl from Paris by Ella Carey


Vianne rushes through the crowded streets of Paris as the German bombs begin to fall. As she rounds the corner she sees the familiar spires of the old church burst into flames. Too late, she realizes that her mother and sister are trapped inside…

Paris, 1918. The end of war is in sight, and young seamstress Vianne Mercier is longing for the day when she can stop sewing military uniforms and start creating the beautiful dresses that she has been dreaming up in her head.

But just when it seems like peace is within reach, Vianne’s mother and sister are killed in a terrible air raid. To make matters worse, Vianne’s brother has returned home a changed man. Controlling and cruel, he presents Vianne with an ultimatum; give up her dreams of becoming a designer, or be forced onto the streets, penniless and alone.

With nothing left for her in Paris but sad memories, she decides to sail for New York. Determined not to look back, she throws herself into her new life—spending her days sewing dresses for wealthy Upper East Side women, and her evenings dancing the Charleston to Duke Ellington in the new downtown clubs. When Vianne meets handsome Italian Giorgio Conti, he encourages her career, and she feels safe for the first time since she lost her family.

Then news of a terrible accident compels Vianne to suddenly return to France, where she discovers proof of a wartime secret that changes everything she thought she knew about her family. Facing the threat of sickness and ruin, the people who forced Vianne out of her home now suddenly need her help.

Will Vianne find the courage to follow her heart, return to New York and her life with Giorgio? Or will duty bind her to the family she had left behind and force her to remain in France?

From Amazon Charts bestseller Ella Carey comes an utterly gripping and emotional historical wartime novel about the terrible choices people made during humanity’s darkest days. Fans of Fiona Valpy, Rhys Bowen and The Nightingale will adore this novel.


French Village Diaries book review The Girl from Paris Ella Carey Bookouture
The Girl from Paris blog tour poster


My review 

Having enjoyed other novels by Ella Carey, I was looking forward to being back in her take on historical Paris, and I wasn’t disappointed. I took to Vianne straight away. I felt the love of her parents, the sadness at her loss and the hurt when she is left to fend for herself. The pain and trauma of the First World War haunting her memories of a happy childhood in Paris. It is her determination and ambition to design beautiful dresses that drives her forward, and I felt the excitement, following her journey from Paris to New York, where life is full of new promises for new beginnings. 


Pushing her grief to a hidden place inside, Vianne embraces all New York has to offer, the hard work and new friendships, as well as the temptations. However, her past in Paris is not quite what she thinks it is and once we got a first taste of the mystery unfolding, I devoured the pages to discover the truth. Family secrets, no matter how many miles divide, have a habit of coming back.


Vianne was one of those characters who I really wanted to do well, to overcome the odds stacked against her and become a success in the world of couture. I loved the descriptions of the cut and flow of the gowns, the beading and the sequins, and reading this book, I felt the 1920’s fashion era come to life. 


This book will take you from Paris to New York and the Highlands of Scotland, with some unexpected twists and mysteries to be unravelled. The more you read, the more the surprise names turn up. 


Despite the traumas this book has a beautiful message and is a must read for those who have a thing for the 1920’s, fashion, romance and family dramas. It’s another great read from Ella Carey.

Purchase Links 



Audio Links



French Village Diaries book review The Girl from Paris Ella Carey Bookouture
Ella Carey


Author Bio


Ella Carey is the USA Today and Amazon charts bestselling author of eight novels of historical fiction, including the Secrets of Paris Series, published with Hachette imprint, Bookouture. Ella’s novels have reached over one million readers and have been translated into fourteen languages. Ella has recently signed a six book deal in Germany and a nine book deal in Denmark. Ella’s latest novels are A New York Secret, and The Lost Girl of Berlin, both published with Bookouture in 2021. The Girl from Paris is the third novel in this new series, and will publish in January, 2022. Ella has a music degree in classical piano, and an arts degree majoring in English and history. Her novels have been shortlisted for ARRA awards. 


For further information: 

Saturday, January 1, 2022

French public and school holidays 2022

French Village Diaries public and school holidays in France 2022
French public and school holidays 2022

Happy New Year. 


January is with us once more and as in previous years, here is my annual post with all the French public holidays, school holidays and other notable dates, plus how they are celebrated here in France, for 2022. 


Nothing much seems to have changed from when I wrote a similar post last December, as we once again find ourselves living with strict Covid-19 controls in place, concerning who travel to France from the UK and the rules they must follow. 


I can only hope that travel and holidays in 2022 become easier for us all, but please do check with the relevant authorities before planning your 2022 holiday travel. The UK government update this information page on their website on a regular basis:


Public Holidays in France 2022

1st January, New Year’s Day, jour de l’an (a Saturday this year)

17th April, Easter SundayPâques

18th 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 Sunday this year)

8th May, Victory in Europe DayVictoire 1945 (a Sunday this year)

26th May, Ascension Day, Ascension (note schools will have an extra day off on Friday 27th May for the bridge (pont)

6th June, Pentecost Monday, lundi de Pentecôte

14th July, Fête National

15th August, Assumption Day, Assomption 

1st November, All Saints DayToussaint

11th November, Armistice DayArmistice 1918 

25th December, Christmas Day, Jour de Noël (a Sunday this year) (note there is no Boxing Day holiday in France on 26th unless you live in Alsace or Moselle areas)


Faire le pont

Except for 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 leave 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 2022 four public holidays fall on Saturdays (1st January) or Sundays (1st May, 8th May and 25thDecember), and three have the option of bridging to a weekend (26th May, 14th July and 1stNovember). 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)

12th January, winter sales begin, soldes d’hiver, sales are regulated in France and the winter sales will run from 12th January to 8th February (this may be subject to change, depending on current Covid-19 restrictions)

2nd February Candlemas day, Chandeleur, celebrated in France with pancakes (see here)

1st March, Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras when carnival time begins in France and pancakes, or beignets (similar to doughnuts) are eaten.

27th March, clocks spring forward an hour to Central European Summer Time

10th April, Palm Sunday, Rameaux a day where our local boulangeries bake something different (see here)

27th May, Neighbours’ Day, fêtes des voisins

29th May, Mother’s Day, fêtes des mères

19th 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

22nd June, summer sales begin, soldes d’été, and will run until 19th July

1st July to 24th July, Le Tour de France, with a planned depart in Copenhagen and a finish in Paris

24th July to 31st July, Le Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, the inaugural women’s Tour de France begins in Paris and finishes on the Planche des Belles Filles in the Vosges 

30th October, clocks go back an hour to Central European Time (although the future of this is up for debate)

French Village Diaries public and school holidays in France 2022


School Holidays

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 2022:

The winter holiday is from 5th February to 7th March. 

Zone B gets the first two weeks, Zone A the middle two and Zone C the last two.


The spring holiday is from 9th April to 9th May. 

Zone B gets the first two weeks, Zone A the middle two and Zone C the last two weeks.


The summer holiday for all zones is from 7th July until 1st September.


The October holiday for all zones is from 22nd October to 7th November.


The Christmas holiday for all zones is from 17th December to 3rd January 2023.


Whether you are new to life in France, or just hoping that at some point in 2022 enough normality will return to ensure you are able to make plans to travel to France on your holidays, I hope you find this useful for planning your trip in the quieter weeks outside of the French school holidays. 



Please see my post from last year (click here) detailing the changes that Brexit brought in regarding travel between the UK to the EU.


I really do hope you are able to enjoy a safe holiday in France at some point this year. 


If you have found this post useful, please feel free to share it with your French loving friends and family.