Les Fêtes de Mai
The city was quiet when I awoke this morning. It's a holiday and everyone has headed out of town for an extended weekend. When I booked my trip, I didn't realize that May is a month of celebration in France. Here is a rundown of this month's holidays:
May 1 - Fête du Travail and Fête du Muguet (Labor Day and May Day) - Laborers are celebrated with a day off, just as they are in the US. Simultaneously, the month of May is celebrated with a bouquet of Lilly of the Valley, symbolizing the arrival of spring. As decreed by King Charles IX of France, who offered Lily-of-the-Valley to all the ladies of his court on May 1st, 1561. On this day anyone in France can legally sell flowers without a license to sell, as long as they are a reasonable distance away from the nearest flower shop.
May 8 - Fête de la Victoire (VE Day) - Celebrating WWII victory in Europe in 1945.
May 21 - L'Ascension (Ascension Day) - Celebrating Jesus' last appearance before his disciples and his ascension in heaven.
May 22 - This is not a holiday, but because Ascension Day falls on a Thursday, the French faire le pont. That is to say, they "make a bridge" to the weekend, taking Friday off as well.
May 31 - La Pentecôte (Pentecost) - Celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit.
June 1 - Le Lundi de Pentecôte (Whit Monday or Pentecost Monday) - It's the day after Pentecost, so why not celebrate?