May Day (La Fête du Muguet, La Fête du Travail) in France is a public holiday to celebrate workers’ rights. But much more importantly, it is also an occasion to present lily-of-the-valley (in French, “muguet”) to loved ones.
Lily of the Valley
King Charles IX of France was presented with lily of the valley flowers on May 1st, 1561, ostensibly as a token to bring luck and prosperity for the coming year.
He obviously liked the idea as from then onwards he decided to present lily of the valley flowers to the ladies of his court each year on May 1st.
From around 1900, it became traditional in France for men to present a bouquet of lily of the valley flowers to their loved one to express their affection. These days “muguet” flowers are also presented as a general token of appreciation between close friends and family members.
Practical Tips for May Day
May 1st is a public holiday in France. Post offices and banks, plus most shops and businesses, are closed.
Outside of tourist areas, even restaurants and cafes are frequently closed despite the fact that many people take a short break around this time. However, it is becoming increasingly common for some shops (especially in large towns/cities, at transport interchanges and in some tourist areas) to remain open.
Public transport service schedules vary in coverage.
May Day parades and demonstrations may cause disruption to traffic in the centers of large cities, particularly Paris.
Short breaks in May:
For accommodation availability in May, check via our website Normandy Bed and Breakfast
Also in May – the Joan of Arc Festival at Rouen https://visitnormandy.wordpress.com/2009/03/30/jeanne-darc-joan-of-arc/