May 1st is May Day in France and a public holiday. Banks, post offices, stores and other businesses close in France, though in Paris and some main cities you’ll find some stores open and public transport available.
Called le Fête du travail (Labour Day) it’s a day that’s become synonymous with the demands of unions and workers and traditional for parades and demonstrations. Tomorrow will be no different and newspapers carry reports warning of demonstrations in towns and cities to celebrate and campaign for workers’ rights throughout France with possible disruption to traffic.
The term Labour Day originated in America when the US unions succeeded in obtain an eight hour working day for labourers and in 1889 Congress declared May 1 a day of social demands. Thirty years later, the eight hour working day was officially launched in France on April 23, 1919, and the French Government declared May 1 a public holiday.
May Day is also a day for giving and receiving lily of the valley plants for good luck – see more on our blog section today to find out the fascinating story behind this tradition.