What Is the Meaning Of The French Expression Faire le Pont ?

Faire le Pont in French
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This expression is actually 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 actually a body position in yoga - a back stretch, where you actually stand on hands and feet with your belly facing up - just like in the picture.

Faire le Pont = to have an extra long weekend

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

So let's look at some scenarios.

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

But 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 (hence the Friday or the Monday) - 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 May, we have a Christian holiday, l’Ascension.
  • and sometimes towards the very end of May, another Christian holiday la Pentecôte

So watch out - 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! Of course, with ​an extra long weekend, many French people will take off, and the roads will be quite busy as well.