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May 1

Faire le Pont! – May Holidays in France

France, just like every other country, has many holidays throughout the year.

It is best to leave the planning of your viewing trip to the experts at Cle France but if you are going to plan your trip and see multiple houses then be careful to avoid les jours fériés as these may catch you out. Estate Agents in France work so hard they are keen not to miss the opportunity of a Bank Holiday day off and making the bridge is a common practice for most business so let us explain.

With the creation of new holidays every year (such as National Doughnut Day — faites une croix dans vos calendriers [mark your calendars]! It’s June 2nd this year!), it seems that there’s something to celebrate every day. Whether you believe in celebrating doughnuts or not (and let’s be honest, you should as you only live once!), there are certain holidays that are nationally recognised.

May Bank Holiday Dates

Image courtesy of Eric Rocheblave.

These holidays, called les jours fériés, are public holidays, and public servants, employees in the public sector, and students generally have the day off!

This year, France has 13 public holidays. Can you name them? Answers are at the bottom of the post!

Of those 13, 5 take place in May. That’s a lot of days off! That’s almost 40% of days off in one month. Do you know the expression faire le pont? It literally means “to make the bridge,” but it refers to the idea of going from one end of something to another more than actually making a bridge. What it means is to make a long weekend. If a holidays falls on a Tuesday or a Thursday, the French “make a bridge” to the next week.

For example, if the holiday is on Thursday, it doesn’t make much sense to come to work Wednesday, have off Thursday, return to work Friday, then have the weekend off. So what they do is have off Thursday AND Friday, plus the weekend. A four-day weekend! They font le pont from Thursday to Monday.

So what are the holidays this month? Let’s take a look!

Le 1er mai – La Fête du Travail – Labor Day

This holiday is sometimes called La Fête du Muguet. Le Muguet (lily of the valley) is picked and given to loved ones. Don’t want to pick any, or don’t have access to a field ? Don’t worry – there are stands on the road where you can purchase them. There are even regulations that allow organizations to grow and sell these flowers without taxes.

In the streets, you’ll see parades celebrating workers rights.

Le 8 mai – La Fête de la Victoire / le Jour de la Libération – Victory Day

This holiday is to celebrate the end of the Second World War and freedom. Freedom’s not just an American value :-p On this day in 1945, Charles de Gaulle announced the end of the war.

Many people attend church services on this day, and they watch the parades after. The atmosphere is generally quite happy.

Le 9 mai – Ascension

This is the 40th day of Easter and marks the day that Jesus Christ ascended to heaven after being crucified.

Some Christians attend special church services, but most people don’t do anything specifically related to the holiday. Since it’s a four-day weekend, many people may take a mini vacation.

Le 19 mai – Pentecôte – Pentecost Sunday or Whit Sunday

This is another religious holiday in May. Since it’s on a Sunday, the fact that everything is closed is nothing new. Some Christians will attend church services. Traditionally, trumpets will be blown during the service. This represents the wind that blew when the spirit descended into Jesus’s followers.

For many others, it’s just like any other weekend, except they don’t have to go to work the next day.

Le 20 mai – Lundi de Pentecôte –Pentecost Monday or Whit Monday

This day follows Pentecost Sunday. Much like the previous day, not a lot is done anymore. In fact, the French government decided to remove it from their list of national holidays around 10 years ago.  It was reinstated again after the death of many elders during a heatwave. The new holiday, called the Day of Solidarity, is to bring awareness to elderly people with disabilities. Some people do work on this day for no wages, and their money is donated to organisations. Not everyone does this, though.

Happy Holidays!

1. Jour de L’an (1er janvier)

2. Pâques (le 9 avril)

3. Lundi de Pâques (le 1 avril)

4. Fête du Travail (1er mai)

5. Fête de la Victoire 1945 (le 8 mai)

6. Ascension catholique (le 9 mai)

7. Pentecôte (le 19 mai)

8. Lundi de Pentecôte (le 20 mai)

9. Fête nationale (le 14 juillet)

10. Assomption (le 15 aout)

11. Toussaint (le 1er novembre)

12. Armistice 1989 (le 11 novembre)

13. Noël (le 25 décembre)

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Blog submitted by: Alex at The French Property Network - Cle France.

This blog was originally posted on The French Language Blog pages.

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Mar 27

How do the French celebrate Easter?

Actually it is not that different to Easter celebrations in other mainly Christian countries, the French however as you would expect also have their own individual Easter traditions. Perhaps it may come as no surprise that given France's obvious culinary talents, many of the Easter traditions include and involve food.

Easter is an important holiday in France and there are lots of traditions that go with Easter so be sure to wish all your friends and colleagues an enthusiastic 'Joyeuses Pâques' (Happy Easter) !

Easter Hen

Easter Weekend:

Good Friday is typically not recognised as a Bank Holiday in France and it is business as normal. Easter does however consist of a long weekend, and in some sectors, a week or two of holidays but generally it is only the Easter Monday that stands out as different to the normal run of things because every Sunday is still a rest day in France where most large shops and business are closed, unlike the UK these days. In addition to having the chance for a holiday, the French also take the opportunities of Easter to include visiting family and friends, and relaxing.

French Easter Morning:

French children have Easter egg hunts on Easter sunday morning. Eggs are usually chocolate ones and not hard-boiled ones, although the French also play games with raw eggs at Easter. A few Easter games exist, such as competitions throwing and catching eggs and seeing who can toss and catch an egg the longest without breaking it. Another game with raw eggs stems from the Catholic tradition in France. In this game, children each take a raw egg and roll them down a hill (simulating the stone rolling from Jesus' tomb). In this symbolic game, the child whose egg travels the farthest without breaking is the winner.

Easter egg hunts are usually for small chocolate eggs. However, French chocolatiers also have a long-standing tradition of creating oversized ornamental chocolate eggs that are given as gifts. These eggs, like most products from French chocolatiers and patissiers, often look too beautiful to eat!

French boulangerie

How Do the French Celebrate Easter with Food:

In addition to the sweets, French families often make very special meals on Easter Sunday. As with all special French meals, it will usually consist of several courses, be accompanied by wine, and finish with a cheese plate and a delicious dessert.

French Easter Menus:

There is a French Easter tradition of serving lamb as the main course on Easter Sunday. While this is not necessarily always the case, many families still observe this tradition by making a rack of lamb braised with an herb rub or sauce. Other main courses would typically be meat, for example a ham or other choice cuts of meat. Turkey, which is very typical of Christmas, would not often be chosen as an Easter main course.

Preceding the main course, a lighter dish is usually served. This may be something like a quiche or perhaps a salad. Though soup is possible, a cold first course is more typical of a traditional Easter menu. Some families may eat both a salad and another first course.

Following the main course, expect a short break in which everyone remains seated at the table drinking wine. This break is usually followed with a traditional cheese plate with baguette. If you are making a French-style Easter dinner outside France, you'll have to rely on a local supermarket for some French cheeses (get a variety: one bleu, one camembert or brie, one harder cheese, and a goat's cheese if you can find it). In France, expect a few popular French cheeses, as well as a few local ones that you may never have seen or heard of before.

Lastly, Easter dinners are topped off with dessert. Very often, the dessert will include some chocolate, but may not be exclusively chocolate, such as a chocolate berry tart or an almond cake drizzled with a chocolate sauce. If you are in France, expect to spend a long time over Easter dinner, it is meant to be enjoyed slowly.

Blog submitted by: Alex at The French Property Network - Cle France.

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Feb 14

Who Was Saint Valentine?

Qui était saint Valentin? (Who was Saint Valentine?)

Today is a day that is both loved (and possibly loathed) around the world. However, in France, a Saint-Valentin is particularly a holiday for lovers and only means one thing, Love.

Cle France Blogs

Valentines Day has its origins in the life of the real Saint Valentine, who lived in the third-century. According to some Catholic tradition, Saint Valentine was martyred on a road to Rome in 269 AD. However, very little is known about him and stories about his life–and death–diverge. According to the French Catholic website Nominis...  

“Il était, dit-on, évêque de Terni en Italie et jouissait du renom de thaumaturge. Un miracle le fit connaître comme chrétien et le préfet de Rome fit mettre à mort celui qui avait mis ses pouvoirs de prêtre et ses talents de médecin au service des chrétiens prisonniers pour leur foi.”

(He was, it is said, the bishop of Terni in Italy who was renowned as a miracle worker. One miracle in particular made him known as a Christian and the Roman government put him to death because he had used his powers as a priest and his medical knowledge to help Christian prisoners for their faith.)

According to another story, the Roman emperor Claudius admired Saint Valentine for his talents. Claudius told his fellow Romans, “Romains… écoutez comme cet homme parle avec sagesse et droiture.” (Romans, listen to how this man speaks with wisdom and righteousness.) However, despite his earlier admiration, Claudius felt threatened by Saint Valentine after he healed one of Claudius’ soldier’s daughters, who was blind, and decapitated him in 280 AD.

Whatever the circumstances of his life and death, why is Saint Valentine commemorated on February 14 around the world? In 495, Pope Gelasius decreed that February 14 would be consecrated to Saint Valentine. We don’t know exactly why, however. According to some traditions, it’s because mid-February was believed to be the time of year, in the Middle Ages, when birds paired off.

It, thus, became associated with romantic love. How did Saint Valentine become associated with romantic love? That’s more difficult to trace. However, English author Chaucer is typically credited with popularising the holiday in the fourteenth century–over one thousand years after the real Saint Valentine lived.

Joyeuse Saint-Valentin!

Psst: Did you Know...

Blog submitted by: Alex at The French Property Network - Cle France.

This blog was originally posted on The French Language Blog pages.

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Feb 13

Celebrating St Valentines Day the French Way

Valentine's Day in France.

The origins of Saint Valentine’s Day are unclear. Ancient Rome celebrated the 14th February as a day of worship to the god Juno, and there are three different Saint Valentines in the Catholic Church. Tradition states that people began to notice that birds began their mating rituals half way through the second month of the year and so the 14th was designated as a day for exchanging love letters and tokens of esteem.

As you would expect from a country whose capital city is so strongly associated with romance, Valentine’s day has throughout history played a part in the love lives of the French. A former Valentine’s Day custom, which was officially banned, was that of ‘la loterie d’amour’, translated as ‘lottery of love’. Single people, both young and old, would go into their houses, (the houses all facing in on each other during this period), and call out until they were paired off with each other. However, if the gentleman was displeased with his ‘prize’ he would simply abandon her, hoping for better luck next time! Those women abandoned by their suitors would build a large bonfire and burn images of their men, cursing and abusing them as the flames burnt. However, due to fears of public disorder the government issued a decree banning the practice.

The origins of the first Valentine cards to be sent also have a French connection: the first known ‘carte d'amitié’, was believed to have been sent in 1415 by the Duke of Orleans who was imprisoned in the Tower of London following the Battle of Agincourt, to his wife.

The village of Saint Valentin, situated in the central department of Indre was traditionally a place of pilgrimage. Nowadays the village holds a number of fêtes to celebrate its association with this patron saint, where people can renew their marriage vows.

Today St Valentine's Day is celebrated in France in much the same way as in the UK where it is an opportunity to exchange cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts. It has a similar commercial feel also as retailers will stock up on these traditional gifts and cards, and hearts and roses will be the order of the day in shop windows and displays.

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Blog submitted by: Alex at Cle France.

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Feb 10

How To Minimise Your Currency Risk

How to minimise currency risk for your French property purchase

What is currency risk?

Geoff Lambourne, Director at Key Currency has shared with us this analogy:

If you walked into a casino with £10,000, would you risk putting it all on red or black?

If you’re not okay with the possibility of losing it all, then currency risk is something to consider when buying a French property.

The exchange rate for Pounds to Euros moves on average 10% in 12 months.

That means; for a £100,000, the price of your dream home overseas could fluctuate as much as £10,000 either way.

So, if you’re not prepared to pay an additional 10% of the property price, perhaps it’s time to speak to a currency specialist?

How can I protect my property budget?

Well, the first step is connecting with a trusted currency specialist. If possible, opt for one with experience helping individuals manage overseas currency transactions.

We recommend Key Currency to all our clients, they have years of experience in foreign exchange and specialise in overseas property.

The first step in protecting your overseas property budget would be to register with Key Currency, it’s free and there’s no obligation to trade.

Register with Key Currency today.

Then, we can schedule a call with your assigned account manager to discuss the best options for you and your budget.

The "forward contract" is possibly Key Currency’s most popular service for overseas property buyers. It’s a legal contract that allows you to lock in an exchange rate for up to 12 months at a time.

This provides peace of mind, knowing that you’ll pay the same price you agreed to pay for your overseas home by the time you complete the transaction.

For example - if you agree to buy a €100,000 property abroad when £1 = €1.15, it will cost you £86,956.

But it’s possible that by the time you come to complete the transaction, £1 only buys you €1.08, so the price has shot up to £93,592, costing you another £5,633, a 'forward contract' can avoid this happening.

Click below for a free quote from Key Currency.

Get a Quick Quote

Key Currency

Kind regards, 
David Evans 
Co-Founder of Cle France.

Cle France / Key Currency

Key Currency is the currency exchange department of Cle France Ltd, 'Cle' being the French word for 'Key', did you see what we did there?

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