ON SATURDAY France marks the Fête Nationale (known as Bastille Day in English-speaking countries) – but this mid-July weekend is also traditionally a very busy one with people heading on holiday.
If you do not need to drive on Saturday July 14 it might be best to avoid doing so, says the motoring helpline Bison Futé.
It has listed the day as “red” all over the country (“very heavy traffic” with “very difficult” traffic flow) in the “departures” direction – that is on roads leading towards holiday destinations on the coasts (especially, eg. heading down to the Mediterranean).
Otherwise in the “departures” direction, today (Friday July 13) is listed orange nationally and red in the west, Centre and Rhône Valley. Sunday is listed as green – no problems – nationally.
In the “returns” direction today is green nationally, Saturday 14 is green everywhere except the south-west, which is orange, and Sunday is green apart from in the west, Centre and south-west, which are orange.
For the Fête Nationale there will be local celebrations taking place around the country, including the traditional bals des pompiers at fire stations tonight or tomorrow.
The festivities in the capital will start at 10.15 with a military parade on the Champs-Elysées. Also tomorrow, President Hollande is returning to the tradition of a president’s speech, which will be broadcast at 13.15.
The half-hour talk will be his first big interview, two months after his arrival in office.
The Elysée gardens will be open to the public in the afternoon (though the president is not holding a garden party – a tradition abolished by Sarkozy as it was thought inappropriate during the economic crisis).
At 17.00 the president is expected in Brest for the 20th anniversary of the four-yearly maritime festival Tonnères de Brest.