Shall we ‘faire le pont’?


Step over those days (©Henning Studte)”>

If someone asked you “Shall we faire le pont?” how would you react? Is this a pick-up line? Why am I being asked about making a bridge? I’m not an engineer… there must be a mistake!  Well, no mistake at all… we all do this from time to time, it’s just that the French have a name for it.

May is a wonderful month to go to France: the flowers are blooming, the sun usually shines: there is a saying “en avril, ne te découvre pas d’un fil, mais en mai, ôte ce qui te plaît” – In April, don’t take a thread off (keep your clothes on), but in May, take off whatever you want.

But May is also a glorious month for the French because of all its numerous holidays (un jour férié); here are the dates for 2010:

– May 1st – Labor day

– May 8th – Victory of WWII

– May 13th – Ascension (Christian holiday – 39 days after Easter)

– May 23rd – Pentecôte (Christan holiday – on a Sunday, 50 days after Easter)

Now, the true problem is that French people have a habit… “ils font le pont”, Literarily “they make the bridge”. What it means is that, say you have a holiday on a Tuesday, you will not work on Monday, so that you get a longer weekend… Same goes for Thursdays (then Fridays are off).

What to do with all this free time? Staying in character, we end with the French who have the ideal proverb: en mai, fait ce qu’il te plait (in May, do exactly as you please).

But be aware that this means that if you go to France in May, many shops, museums, administrations etc… are closed on these days. Be also very careful to read the small lines should you enrol in a language program in May… And after all those warnings, I’ve been in France in May and well…it was as France always is, wonderful!

About the Contributor

Judy MacMahon

Experience FRANCE beyond the CLICHÉ with MyFrenchLife is for Curious Savvy Francophiles wherever you are. Meet Francophiles in France, online, and/or wherever you live. You’re very welcome to join us - Judy MacMahon -

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