Mark May 1 with lilies

The Fête du Travail is the one day when anyone can pick and sell lily of the valley

May 1 - la Fête du Travail – is associated with lily of the valley.

On this one day members of the public are allowed to sell sprigs of the delicate white flowers – as long as they respect certain rules, often modified by municipal bye-laws. The tradition is said to date to the Renaissance.

The flowers should typically be wild (eg. from forests), picked without the root, without packaging, sold on the street without a stand. You should do it more than 40m from florists’ shops.

In Dijon however the distance is 100m, while in Reims you need to make a prior declaration to the mairie and pay €28.35 allowing you to install a small stand on a 1m space.

It is thought selling le muguet (lily of the valley) generates around €15 million a year on the Fête du Travail.

According to growers this year’s crop is of good quality and while the sprigs may not have as many flowers as some years, they will be long-lasting.