May Day is a public holiday in France too – in fact, it’s an even bigger affair for our friends across the Channel. As well as being a spring celebration, the French have also held International Workers’ Day on 1 May since 1889. Today, there are regularly organised marches and parades, and the atmosphere is only boosted in sunny weather. Make the most of your bank holiday by hopping across the Channel to Paris, where you can celebrate May Day exploring outside.
It was during a moment of contemplation in war-ravaged Ypres in 1915 that Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae noticed how quickly poppies grew from the graves of the recently buried. He reportedly penned the famous ‘In Flanders Fields’ the very next day, while sitting in the back of an ambulance:
“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly”
If you’re thinking of visiting the battlefields of Belgium to pay your respects this November, take a look at our guide to Remembrance Day travel.
Better known to locals as La Fête Nationale, Bastille Day takes place on the 14th July each year and is one of the biggest annual celebrations in France. The public holiday owes its roots to the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789, a historical day which moved the country towards revolution and eventually becoming a republic. Now, each year the whole nation joins together to celebrate the anniversary of the momentous day with parties, fireworks and live events; and there is nowhere better to experience the incredible atmosphere than Paris.