Holidays in France are defined by labor laws, and we have eleven of them every year. Yes, eleven!!!
The first one is New Year’s Day. Having this day off in France is a must as many French people drink too much champagne the night before and during the early morning hours, and few of them would be fit and productive enough to go to work the first day of the year.
Why being fit and productive for work, might you ask, knowing that there are ten more holidays coming? Not to mention Friday afternoons being off for a lot of French people (also defined by labor laws). Not to mention the strikes – Most of you that have been to France have been victims of some strikes.
The trains go on strike, the buses, the metro… Hopefully not all at the same time! The air controllers go on strike, so do the garbage men, the big-chain supermarket employees, the postal employees, airport staff, hospital staff... Clearly, you had better schedule your medical emergency on the right day!
The teachers go on strike, city and state workers, nuclear power plants, electric co-ops - It goes on and on. You can actually google the calendar of current and scheduled strikes in France. It is staggering.
French people travel several times a year as they get five weeks’ paid vacation per year. I am not sure that it has a positive effect on their productivity – Statistics from reliable, official sources praise the French workers’ long-term productivity. Small and medium-size companies feel that the average French worker’s well-being is at their expense, though.
French kids are schooled 144 days a year… leaving 221 days off! Yet, France is still # 9 in overall best countries’ academic rankings just behind the United States. (Source: USNews)
Finally, the tourism industry is the winner that takes it all. Hotels, restaurants, resorts, and vacation rentals are booked weeks after weeks throughout the year.
When do the French work, if they work at all?!!! That is a question that many of you often ask. Somehow, they do, and somehow, they ARE productive, whether it is purposefully or accidentally… They just know how to go with the flow without too much (but just enough) ambition in the work place, with a “c’est la vie” attitude that makes them somewhat relaxed, a “c’est la vie” attitude that makes them… well, so… French, after all!