The Meaning of Faire le Pont

Faire le Pont in French
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This expression is very useful since it describes something very French and does not translate well in English.

First, let's not mistake "faire le pont" with "faire le point" (with an i) which means to evaluate/ assess a situation.

Faire le Pont = to do the Bridge = Yoga Position

Literally, "faire le pont" means to do the bridge. So, what could it mean? One of its meaning is a body position in yoga; a backstretch, where you stand on hands and feet with your belly facing up.

Faire le Pont = An Extra-Long Weekend

The instance when "faire le pont is most used" is to describe a very French specific 4-day long weekend

The holiday is on a Monday or a Friday - like anybody else, the French will have a three-day long weekend. Nothing exceptional here.

Here is the French Twist: If the holiday is on a Thursday or a Tuesday, then the French will skip the day separating them from the weekend doing "the bridge" over the weekend. They will, of course, still get paid for it. 

Schools also do it, and the students have to make up for the extra day off by going to school on a Wednesday (typically off for younger students) or a Saturday - you can imagine the mess it is when your kid is involved ​in a regular off-school activity such as a sport.

Les Ponts du Mois de Mai: May Days Off

There are many possible holidays in May:

  • May 1st is Labor Day (la fête du travail)
  • May 8th is the end of WWII
  • Around mid or end of May, we have a Christian holiday, l’Ascension.
  • Sometimes towards the very end of May, another Christian holiday la Pentecôte

If this holiday falls on a Thursday or a Tuesday, les français vont faire le pont (you do need to conjugate Faire to agree with your subject), and everything will be closed for four days! With ​an extra-long weekend, many French people will take off, and the roads will be quite busy as well.