The Myth of the 35 Hour Work Week


Just a few years ago the 35-hour work week was introduced in France amid vehement protest.

It amounts to the French version of 9 am to 5 pm work hours except the French normally take one hour to one and a half hours for lunch (especially in the countryside). 12 :30 to 2 pm or 2:30 pm. Some retail shops close down during the lunch hour. The mid day meal is the most important meal of the day for many people.
However, most businesses close later than in the US, usually between 6 and 7 pm so the time lost out at lunch is regained at the end of the work day.
The 35-work week applies primarily to government employees, hospital and factory workers and large corporations. However, just as in the US, and many other countries, a considerable segment of the working population puts in much longer hours.
The taxi driver who picked us up at CDG drives 10-hour shifts. Many restaurants are one family operations. During high season, some restaurants stay open 7 days a week. The owner/chef and his wife who hostesses,work 7/7 during the entire summer season.
Salaried professionals such as lawyers, advertising executives, etc. usually have weekends free but tend to burn the midnight oil during the week.
Artisans such as upholsterers, cabinet makers, housebuilders and handy men need to juggle several projects at the same time. Some allow themselves vacation time. Others haven’t taken a break more than a few days at a time – in years.
Yet the French are the first to call themselves ‘lazy’ in spite of all evidence to the contrary.
The proof that French are certainly not lazy can clearly be seen in their living room. There are no couch potatoes. In fact, living room furniture serves primarily as reception rooms for dinner guests. In France day-to-day life revolves around the dining room table. (With eyes barely open at breakfast and drooping with fatigue during the evening meal). The days are long. Even so, there’s always time for family and friends and a convivial glass of wine. That’s living.

DOWNLOAD OUR TRAVEL GUIDES

FOR FREE