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French public holidays

May is always a rather complicated month: I tend to forget which days are public holidays. Also, people often build a little mini break round these. If Thursday is a holiday, for example, people will often faire le pont – take days leave on the Friday.

We start with the Fête du travail, which I’m glad to say is still on 1st May – although as it fell on a Saturday this year, the Monday became the Vacance de Printemps. Then there is the Victoire des alliés on 8th May. And then – strange for a nation proud of its laicity – Ascension day on the 13th and Pentecôte on the 24th.

As my cleaning lady, Edith, usually comes on Mondays, the month of May is somewhat fractured. I’m looking forward to her coming on the 31st after two Mondays absent!

Pentecôte caused me yet more stress this year as I ran out of money. (I have had an expensive couple of months with hefty house bills.) My pensions usually arrive from the UK into my French bank on about the 20/21st of the month and when they didn’t arrive, I had to spend a parsimonious weekend.

By Tuesday 25th they were still not there and in some panic, as the French banking system is much tougher on overdrafts, even authorised one), I rang my bank, now sadly relocated to Ganges. I have two accounts, one for current expenditure and the other just for regular payments like tax and utility bills. Mélanie told me that I should transfer money immediately to the second, where there is no right at all to be overdrawn. Luckily by Tuesday night the pensions finally arrived.

Why, I asked Mélanie, was there this hiccup in the money arriving from the UK. I knew it was a public holiday weekend, but surely all this was automated? Ah no, she said, there is still someone somewhere in France who is authorising the transfer of the money into my account, and yes, it was only Monday that was Pentcôte, but there were many staff having an extended late May holiday. So now I know: make sure I have funds in my two accounts throughout the holiday month of May!

Oh no, I’m supposed to be taking a cake to tea with friends tomorrow. I’ve just remembered that it is the Fête des Mères. Will there be any cakes left at the patisserie?

Roll on Tuesday the 1st of June.

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