Here in France we are slaves to the rhythm — the rhythm of the French ‘calendrier scolaire’. The entire country dances to the tune of the school calendar as it determines the official vacation dates.
While the Christmas and summer holidays are the same for everyone, the three shorter vacation periods (two weeks each) in the autumn, winter and spring are organized in waves by ‘zones’: A, B and C. This is to help ensure a couple of things: a) a longer season for the tourism trade and b) slightly less craziness on the roads.
Believe you me, when le tout Paris decides to hit the roads to the ski resorts in the Alps, it is just as well that those from everywhere else in the country (not to mention many parts of Europe) are not also en route.
Where we live in Rhone-Alpes is Zone A. That doesn’t necessarily mean we go first as they alternate dates each year so that everybody gets a shot at the best weather.
This only applies, of course, to people with school-aged children. But everyone is somehow affected as prices for hotels and transport often increase dramatically during vacation periods — and availability is at a premium.
Tourists should keep these dates in mind and if possible avoid travelling to the seasonal holiday spots during school breaks. That’s if you want to avoid the crowds and get a better choice of accommodation. It doesn’t apply so much to Paris, unless perhaps over the long May weekends. More on those later.
We are now starting two weeks of spring break in Zone A. I’m staying home for now but plan on enjoying a quieter period with less traffic on the roads.
Bonnes vacances à tous!