May has the most public holidays of any month in France and this year they fall in a way that means the period from Easter to mid-June is likely to be the busiest in the whole year. Good Friday is not a public holiday in France, but Easter Monday 22 April will be. Wednesday 1 May is Labour day, the following Wednesday, 8 May is Victory in Europe Day. It is followed by Ascension Day on Thursday 30 May. Ascension is usually considered the real opening of the main tourist season in the Loire, because by then the weather is likely to be good, the days long and everyone will look forward to making a long weekend of it by taking Friday off (faire le pont, literally 'making the bridge') and taking a mini break in the country from Wednesday to Sunday. Sunday-Monday 9 - 10 June is the Pentecost holiday.
A village ceremony for 8 mai in the Touraine.
These holidays can prove problematic for visitors, and catch them unawares in various ways. For instance, in our experience, the Friday after Ascension is the busiest day of the year in the popular chateaux. Likewise, many of the family run wineries won't be open for visitors in the afternoon, as they don't see themselves as tourist attractions and choose to spend time with their family rather than take the commercial opportunity. Trains will run on a reduced service, and accommodation books up fast.
If you are planning a trip to France in May and are worried about how the public holidays might affect your trip, email us and let us design a tour for you with the benefit of our local knowledge.
To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.