May in France is a month when you can’t move for public holidays. There’s one a week: two historical and two religious. Then the next one isn’t until 14th July, la fête nationale. We were talking about it at our yoga class today (I am the only non-French participant) and everyone agreed that it gets a bit much this month.
1st May is la fête du travail, when, ironically nobody works. This year it fell on a Friday, making a long weekend. It’s hotly pursued by 8th May which commemorates Victory in Europe in 1945 – also on a Friday this year, making another long weekend.
Next week, Ascension falls on Thursday 14th May, making an even longer weekend, when people faire le pont (make the bridge) and take Friday off as well. Finally, Whit Monday (le lundi de Pentecôte) on 25th May makes the fourth long weekend this month.
Not that I object to public holidays per se. It’s just that they could be spread out a bit more over the year. However, in France the jour férié is nearly always taken on the date on which it falls, so if it happens to be a Saturday or a Sunday, it’s bad luck.
Weather for April
True to form, the weather also follows the calendar closely and makes sure that holidays in May are rainy. Last Friday, 1st May, it bucketed down, after an unsettled week.
We have been operating our subjective weather assessment for 17 years. We assign each day a plus if it’s fine, a minus if it’s bad and a zero if it’s indifferent or we can’t decide. In April, there were:
Pluses – 18
Zeros – 8
Minuses – 4
Despite torrential rain and thunderstorms in the last week of April, it was actually one of the better ones. The chart below shows the percentage of plus days each April for the past 17 years (the line is the trend). We have had three better Aprils and one the same. And the trend is upwards.
We have been collecting rainfall stats since August 2004. This April we had 111 mm of rain, compared with the average of 92.3 mm. But it rained on fewer days than normal: eight compared to around 11. This is because when it did rain, it rained with a vengeance.
So we’re now above the average rainfall for the year to date: 335.5 mm compared to the average of 315.3 mm, i.e. 6.4% higher.
April is also the last month in which we can expect any frost, but there was none this year. Overall, we had 41 frost nights over the winter.
Finally, I can announce that the cuckoo did arrive here, but only on 12th April, which is the latest ever. Then it shut up for a couple of weeks until starting off again. All the other migratory birds – hoopoes, swallows, nightingales and golden orioles – have arrived within the normal range.
What would I do without the SF (Statistics Freak), who collects all this information?
You might also like:
Thunder and Lightning at Puycelsi
May 1st – la Fête du Travail in France
Les Saints de Glace – Myth or Reality?
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The French holidays are a pain, especially if you are like me and have to drive a truck through France. Most holidays we are parked up as we are not allowed to drive which can be a inconvenience to our customers. However i think it’s a good policy and keeps the roads clear of large vehicles on the busiest days. The other plus side is I get the chance to get out of the truck and explore the places that i normally drive straight pass. Last week i finally managed to pop into Collioure as we normally head straight for the Spanish border.
I have to say I do appreciate the weekends when the trucks are generally not allowed to be on the road. I had to take my husband to the airport on Monday a couple of weeks ago when it absolutely bucketed down and the spray from the lorries made it very hard to see, even with the wipers going full tilt. However, I realise we all have the right to use the road and I’m sure it’s frustrating to have to have enforced rest. But the policy makes it much more pleasant to drive on holidays and weekends.
Tell me about those holidays – my children are delighted, but it means I can’t get much work done! And it’s been bucketing down this weekend – let’s hope the weather brightens up in time for the next Friday off!
It’s quite disruptive having all these holidays. I’m trying to work with a French company at the moment and this month it’s impossible to get hold of anyone or get them to do anything. Alas, Friday looks thundery again, but the weather perks up on Sat and Sun.