Here is a list of school holidays in France in 2020 and 2021 to help expat parents make the necessary arrangements for holiday and childcare.
If you are a parent living or working in France, you’ll need to get the school holiday dates in the diary as soon as possible so that you can make your holiday plans or childcare arrangements. School holidays in France spread across the seasonal and festival periods, with the exact date for some determined by what regional zone you live in.
The French Ministry of National Education (Ministere de l’Education Nationale in French) sets the dates for the school holidays in France. French schools have five holidays throughout the year: All Saints’ holiday, Christmas holiday, winter holiday, spring holiday, and summer holiday. The breaks are usually around two weeks each, apart from the summer holidays, which last about eight weeks from early July to early September.
France splits schools into three different regional zones. Dates for the winter and spring holidays vary across the three zones. The zones are as follows:
- Besancon, Bordeaux, Clermont-Ferrand, Dijon, Grenoble, Limoges, Lyon, and Poitiers are in Zone A.
- Aix-Marseille, Amiens, Caen, Lille, Nancy-Metz, Nantes, Nice, Orleans-Tours, Reins, Rennes, Rouen, and Strasbourg are in Zone B.
- Creteil, Montpellier, Paris, Toulouse, and Versailles are in Zone C.
International schools in France generally follow the same holiday dates as other schools, although there may be some variation within individual schools. To be sure, check with your child’s school for full details.
School holidays in France are used as an occasion for families to get together for festivities such as Christmas, to take a vacation or enjoy day trips, or to plan fun activities for kids. Other festivities such as Bastille Day may also occur during the school holidays.
French school holiday dates 2019–20
- All Saints’ break: 19 October – 4 November 2019
- Christmas break: 21 December 2019 – 6 January 2020
- Winter break: 22 February – 9 March 2020 (Zone A); 15 February – 2 March 2020 (Zone B); 8–24 February 2020 (Zone C)
- Spring break: 18 April – 4 May 2020 (Zone A); 11–27 April 2020 (Zone B); 4–20 April to 6 May 2020 (Zone C)
- Summer break: 4 July – 1 September 2020
French school holiday dates 2020–21
- All Saints’ break: 17 October – 2 November 2020
- Christmas break: 19 December 2020 – 4 January 2021
- Winter break: 6–22 February 2021 (Zone A); 20 February – 8 March 2021 (Zone B); 13 February – 1 March 2021 (Zone C)
- Spring break: 10–26 April 2021 (Zone A); 24 April – 10 May 2021 (Zone B); 17 April – 3 May 2021 (Zone C)
- Summer break: 6 July – 1 September 2021
A full calendar can be found via the Ministry of National Education.
Additional holidays and days off
France has a 11 public holidays during the year, some of which fall within school holidays. Labor Day (1 May) is the only statutory paid holiday in France. For other public holidays that fall on school days, you will need to check with your school to see whether or not this is treated as a holiday. There may also be additional school-specific days off throughout the year; these can include staff training, development days, or pupil book days. Again, check with your school so that you can plan ahead for these. You can also look on your school’s website as many publish yearly calendars, such as the Notre Dame International High School. For general public holiday information, see our guide to public holidays in France.
Childcare during French school holidays
France has a good system of childcare provision available to working parents, especially when compared to many other countries. For working parents of school-age children, there are state-supervised and regulated holiday recreational facilities available at holiday centers (centre de vacances in French) with accommodation offered, or also at leisure/recreation centers (centre de loisirs in French) that offer day care. Costs vary between regions and centers, although discounts are available for those on low incomes. Check with your local school or regional educational department for full details of what is available in your area, when and for how much.
Another option is a private holiday camp. Private camps are more expensive than state provision, but can be a good place for kids to meet other children from various countries as well as learn/improve their French. Providers include Viva Sans Frontieres, which gives expat children aged 6–17 the chance to have fun and learn French with local children, and Jeunes Diplomates, which runs summer and winter language camps in the French Alps.
There are also many professional childminders (assistantes maternelles in French) in France who can offer childcare either in your home or at their own premises, as well as au pairs and babysitters. See our guide to childcare in France for details on options available.