French school holidays
French school holidays are the periods when schools in France, and all the pupils in them, have a holiday. The dates are fixed nationally by the Ministry of Education for a period of three years. Holiday dates are given as a Saturday date "after classes", as some schools have lessons on Saturday mornings, and return on a Monday morning. The fixed dates can lead to over-crowding in tourist resorts such as the Mediterranean coast and the ski resorts, and price increases and availability problems in travel and accommodations.
To alleviate this problem, holiday schedules for the "winter" and "spring" holidays in February and April, respectively, are staggered by dividing the country into three zones, notably to relieve pressure on the skiing resorts. Nevertheless, the synchronized school holiday schedules still cause some crowding effects as families head to popular holiday locations, especially in the summer at the beginning and end of the months in July and August when the traffic jams are a regular feature of the news bulletins.
Distribution of holidays
The summer holidays officially begins in early July for all state schools, and all students, whatever their age or type of school start their new school year at the beginning of September. Teachers return on the 1st of September, pupils usually on the 2nd but this might vary depending on how the weekend falls, for example in September 2012 teachers will return on Monday 3rd rather than Friday 1st, and pupils on Tuesday 4th.
All Saints holidays
All Saints holidays start on the last weekend of October before the 1st of November and last two weeks since 2012 (before it last a week and a half).
Christmas holidays last two weeks encompassing Christmas and New Year. They are always full weeks; if, as happened for example in 2011/2012, the two weeks would have meant returning to school on Monday the 1st of January the return date is Tuesday the 2nd of January.
Winter holidays last two weeks and are distributed in France depending on zones between the second week of February and the first week of March.
Easter holidays last two weeks and are distributed in France depending on zones between the second week of April and the first week of May.
The three zones (A, B and C) dictate when a school at a particular location will have its holiday. The zones are not contiguous areas of France, but are designed to split the population evenly.
Corsica and overseas departments and territories
Corsica and overseas departments and territories define differently their school calendars. Whereas it is the Ministry of National Education which decides when will be holidays in metropolitan France, Corsica, French Polynesia, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Martinique, Mayotte, New Caledonia, Réunion, Saint Pierre and Miquelon and Wallis and Futuna holidays can be adapted by decree by the local Director of Education for a span of three years.
For instance, the school year in New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna start with the beginning of the new year, in January, and end in December.
- (French) French schools holidays on the web site of the Ministry of National Education
- (English) Schools holidays of France and its overseas departments and territories