Today is a public holiday in the UK, however, In France, although we also have our equivalent of May Day, we apply different rules as to how public holidays, or Jour Feries, are taken. We also have a lot of them in May, so if you are travelling to France to view property it pays to know what is what.
In France the day's holiday is taken on the day on which it falls. We have no 'lieu day'. So, yesterday was May 1st and that was when we took our equivalent of Labour Day (Fete du Travail) even though it was a Sunday. Today we are back to work as normal - or, as normal as Monday is in France - it is frequently taken as a day off by owners of small business who have worked on the Saturday.
To compensate for this, we make up for 'lost' days of holiday by 'making the bridge' (on va faire le pont) whenever a public holiday falls on a Thursday or a Tuesday. Basically, if there is one day of the working week between the day's holiday and the weekend those who can do so tend to make a long weekend of it. This will happen next weekend when Ascension Day takes place on Thursday 5th May. Many people will treat the period from 5th to 8th May inclusive as a holiday - so expect a lot of shops and services to be closed - especially smaller ones, where the owners do not employ staff. This principle tends to be fairly rigorously enforced and even Christmas Day is taken on the day on which it falls with everyone back to work as normal the next day (unless of course it falls on a Thursday......).
Traditionally on May 1st children gave their mothers bunches of Lily of the Valley - a flower which is in bloom about now
French holiday dates for the rest of this year are as follows:
May 5th Ascension Day (Jeudi d'Ascension)
May 8th Commemorating 8th May 1945
May 16th Pentecost (Lundi de Pentecote)
July 14th Bastille Day or the Fete Nationale
August 15th Assumption Day (Assomption)
November 1st All Saints' Day (La Toussaint)
November 11th Armistice
December 25th Christmas Day (Noel)