With 11 national jours feriés (holidays) and five weeks of paid vacation, the French have their share of repose. In May, there is a holiday nearly every week, so be prepared for stores, banks, and museums to shut their doors for days at a time. Be sure to call museums, restaurants, and hotels in advance to make sure they will be open.

Some holidays to keep in mind: January 1, New Year's Day; early to mid-April, Easter and Easter Monday; May 1, Labor Day; May 8, VE Day; mid- to late May, Ascension; late May to early June, Pentecost Monday; July 14, Bastille Day; August 15, Assumption; November 1, All Saints; November 11, Armistice; December 25, Christmas. Tourist sites are especially likely to be closed on New Year's, Labor Day, and Christmas.

France's school vacations tend to unleash hordes of families and classes de mer (school trips to the coast) on museums, castles, and family hotels. School vacations are divided by region and are spread out over about three weeks in late October–November, Christmas–New Year's, again in February, and finally in April. Provence and the Côte d'Azur are the most crowded during the summer holidays, usually the last week of July and all of August.