The French dilemma: holidays in May

Since I last wrote, the spring has arrived in Paris. Just over a week ago Le Jardin des Plantes, where I do my jogging, showed no sign of spring but yesterday almost every tree had buds, and some more than that!

This sudden change in weather also means that we are approaching the famous month of May… Famous, because in France it is a month that feels like a never-ending holiday. It begins with the International Workers’ Day (encouragement is surely needed under the current economic conditions!), the religious holidays (does everyone remember their origin?) and there also is the Victory Day that takes us back to 1945. This year, May 8 falls on Wednesday and May 9 naturally on Thursday. In France this means that many people will make a bridge (faire le pont). For clarification, no, they won’t build a bridge, but they will take Friday off in order to have a loooooooong weekend (sometimes this is imposed by the employer itself!). Even if you don’t live in France, try talking to your boss about “bridge making” and you may get an extra day off!

Furthermore, since most companies ask employees to use their remaining holidays by the end of the month, the dilemma is ready: how to use them, what to do, where to go? A French dilemma! But a nice one.

So, I have been suffering from the same problematic since last week. Some ideas are above the others, but wherever I go traveling, it is important to eat well. Distance-wise, the destination should not be more than some four hours away by plane. Ideally, the weather should be warmer than in Paris… Voila, here is the current shortlist:

1. Spain Spain

Spain, one of the closest destinations to France where the weather is warmer, food delicious and wine good. I would not mind eating some fresh, grilled seafood like razor shells. Not forgetting manchego. Fly to Malaga, rent a car and drive around Andalusia to learn about Islamic heritage in Europe? Or fly to Santiago de Compostela with Vueling ( but forget swimming in the sea in May, I think…

2. ItalyItaly

Italy is like Spain –who does not love these two countries? My dream for many years now has been to drive around the coastline of Italy, but one would need at least one month to do that, I reckon. But how about just flying to Naples and visiting the nearby islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida? Seafood and wine are delicious, too! Or –since I already know these three island– fly to Sicily, the largest Mediterranean island.

3. Turkey Istanbul& Greece

On the eastern side of the Mediterranean is Turkey, where I have been maybe ten times. More importantly, I have never been disappointed with food. How could one be: Turkish mezes are very tasty and the eggplant puree in the picture is to die for! A week in Bodrum with some island hopping to Greek islands of Kos and Rhodes? The sea should be warm enough for pleasant swimming.

4. A seaside resort in a place where it is HOT (Egypt?)

I took this photo in Seychelles some years ago and the beach looks very tempting. With some luck the Mediterranean sea temperature will be well above 20C Seychellesin May but maybe not. The only seaside destination near Europe (again, around 4 hours of flying) where you have “guaranteed hot weather” is Egypt and you can correct me if I am wrong. In Egypt, not only one has the sun and the turquoise water, but there are excellent snorkeling and diving possibilities. My primary concern is that Egypt is mainly a package-tour destination and based on my hotel-review reading, the food is often not top… Do not get me wrong; I am sure Egyptian food is good, but I just need to find the right hotel that believes in preparing traditional food instead of serving pasta buffets…

5. France

The obvious not-so-obvious choice: France. To rent a car and drive towards the South? My usual lunch stop is in Beaune in Burgundy where snails are bigger and better than anywhere else (or at least compared to most of the places I have eaten at). From Beaune the voyage wFranceould continue toward Avignon and further down south either toward Côte d’Azur or deeper into Languedoc, including stops chez les vignerons (read my previous post Wine tasting at Salon des Vins des Vignerons Indépendants). Always an excellent idea.

Ideas to ponder, indeed. Meanwhile, should you like to share your favorite holiday spot with me, or have suggestions or comments, let me know!

3 thoughts on “The French dilemma: holidays in May

  1. Keri Brennan

    Hi Miia,
    On a similar note,, I’m a High School student who’s starting a French club with my adviser being my French teacher. I want the club to teach people about French history and culture. He says that people who haven’t taken French classes should also be allowed to join the club which puts me in a dilemma. What activities can I do that will be fun to both people who have taken French classes and people who haven’t?

    So far, the ideas we have are:

    -powerpoints on the culture and history
    -throwing parties on French holidays (and taking holidays like Christmas and giving it a French theme)
    -French food 😀
    -inviting actual French speakers
    -pen pals
    -french games
    -songs and movies
    I’ll be back to read more next time


  2. Miia Post author

    Bonjour Keri Brennan! It may indeed be a dilemma to put together people who know French with those who don’t… I don’t think movies would work (there is almost no interaction between students so it may get boring), plus movies are very long. I believe the time can be better used. For example, why not to make a list of interesting topics and have each student do a short 10-minute powerpoint presentation on it? Topics could be food related, about French regions and their specialties, sights in France, French personalities (history, politics, movies, singers, actors) etc… If there is a presentation about Serge Gainsbourg, then listening to one of his songs in the end would make sense. And after the presentation everyone could participate in the discussion. I am sure you could ask someone from the cultural centre to come and speak, too. Pen pals: I did that when I was at school and made many friends…… Good luck and thanks again for visiting my blog (and hope to have you back soon!).


  3. Pingback: …and the destination is… | pearlspotting

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