“Ponts du Mois de Mai”: What Are They?

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Americans who come to France to work are warned about the special phenomenon that happens in France during the month of May. It is referred as les ponts du mois de mai, which can be translated as “the bridges of the month of May,” although that means absolutely nothing in English or in probably any other language except French spoken in France.

May in France : Faire le pont

May 1st (Labor Day) and May 8th (VE Day, the end of World War II) are national holidays. So is the Feast of the Ascension, which is celebrated 40 days after Easter and therefore is almost always a Thursday in May. Many French employees take advantage of these paid holidays and ask to have one or two days of paid vacation in conjunction with them to take a long weekend. For example, if the holiday is a Thursday, you take Friday as a vacation day and end up with a four-day break while using just one day of your paid vacation. Some years it is possible to have a total of twelve days off work but only use up three days of vacation. Of course, the immediate impact of this is that French business at the national level crawls for about a month because not enough people are working.

The pont or “bridge” is the vacation day(s) you use to make a bridge between the bank holiday and the weekend. “Faire le pont” (doing or making the bridge) is an expression commonly used during this time of the year.

2 comments

  1. Jean Taquet

    I used an American keyboard myself and I know how it feels. YES if you bring your keyboard from the US, you will be able to pleasurably type visiting your daughter. This said, there could be a much easier way to fix the problem. Your daughter’s computer is recent enough can be changed so it treats the keyboard as an American one. Then you buy at Amazon.com an American keyboard cover. It is extremely light, made in plastic. When you arrive in France, you learn how to change the system for American keyboard, you put the plastic cover on top and you type as if you were home.
    Now to specifically answer your question, your keyboard will not be hurt by being plugged in a different computer even a French one!

    Reply
  2. Mark Prince

    Hi Jean,
    Our daughter is married to a great guy from Angers, and lives in Igny with her children. My wife and I visit once or more a year, but I have to use “hunt and peck” on her French laptop keyboard rather than the touch typing I do at home. I’d like to take an American keyboard with me to leave there for when we visit, and change the keyboard language to English. Will that keyboard and computer now work as if I were back in the old USA using my computer at home? Thanks. Mark

    Reply

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