Opinion: Another week off – how I love living in France

One of the many things I adore about the French is their attitude to time off.

Long weekends are ideal for a spot of decorating

The French just love not going into work, and seem to bunk off as often as possible.

I just revel in all this holiday time, especially when talking to poor work-worn Americans with their miserly fortnight a year. Tee-hee.

I relish the two-month summer go-slow when everyone is either just going away, is away all month, or has only just got back from being away all month. 

In all cases it means they cannot be expected to do any serious work. So that takes care of July and August.

Then there is the autumn strikes season at the end of September, and every self-respecting person spends at least one day outdoors yelling a bit and working up an appetite for hot chestnuts and red wine. Yum. 

I cannot remember what I demonstrated about last year, but we had chocolate biscuits.

This eases gently into Christmas which, I am thrilled to note, is rapidly morphing into a generalised two-week hibernation during which the entire population goes goblin-mode. (If you do not know, this is teen slang for hanging out in trackies and thick bed socks mindlessly scrolling and snacking... needless to say I am all for that.)

I discovered a new one in January, too. Businesses which are on a roll and making peak profit during 'la belle saison' have to compensate for missing their summer holidays somehow, so now it is also okay to take the whole of January off. OMG, I love France.

Long weekends

Obviously the February school holidays are fair game and ditto Easter – a weekend with 'maman' – which brings us neatly to the glorious, fabulous month of May when almost every weekend is long and your boss is not allowed to phone and ask why you are not in the office.

I used to spend these extended weekends in Annecy or the Alps, but the best destinations tend to get crowded and I have no sooner established a comfortable routine of wandering between the restaurant and the hotel than it is time to go home. 

So I have found myself reverting to type. 

Yes, dutifully following in my father's footsteps I am using these mini-holidays to do up the guest bedroom – which currently resembles a Budapest ruin-bar. 

It needs urgent attention, but needless to say I am not sacrificing my actual summer holidays to get it looking shipshape and shiny. No way. 

I do not mind giving up a long weekend though. Three or four days is enough to get in there, rip off some wallpaper, paint a windowsill or two, realise that the ceiling needs replastering and give up. 

I reckon if I do that two to three times during May, it will make a real difference in the spare room. Whether or not that difference will be positive, I leave you to judge.

Discussing this with my French neighbour, he cannot really see my point. He is spending this month's bank holidays polishing tiny marks out of his car and repainting the wheel rims.

Plus ça change...