French workers can expect approximately eleven public holidays (those which fall on a weekend day are not included in the total count), in addition to five weeks vacation during a work year.
These limited public holidays are somewhat cherished and adhered to fairly strictly throughout France. Additionally, any leisure time, especially weekends, are guarded for relaxation and activities of leisure.
As a result, when a holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, 80% of the working French take the Monday or Friday off work to have a long weekend. This practice is called "faire le pont" (bridging) and is especially problematic in the month of May, since it is sometimes possible to have three such holidays in that month.
"Bridging" is not official and does not apply to institutions such as banks and government, but it is sufficiently commonplace to cause difficulties doing business on occasion and so you may find it difficult to find a supermarket, chemist or baker open on such a day.
Many families take vacations during the school holidays which are:
Christmas break (late December to early January)
Winter holiday (a staggered 15-day break occurring between mid-February and mid-March)
Spring break (beginning a week before Easter in March and lasting a month)
Summer recess (late June to early September)