May Day – celebrating spring

The Medici Fountain, Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris

The Medici Fountain, Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris

I’m late, I’m late……I feel like the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland.  I was trying to post this in time for the first of May – “May Day” – instead I crawled back into bed with the flu (again).  Now, the spring showers and the flu are over, the sun is shining again, and so are my spirits.  May Day, the Fete du Travail is a significant public holiday here in France with most of the major tourist attractions such as museums, galleries and chateaux, and shops etc closed on May 1st.  It’s also called the Fete du Muguet (festival of Lily of the Valley) and is a day to celebrate spring and workers rights of 8 hours work, 8 hours leisure and 8 hours sleep.

Lily of the Valley for sale

Lily of the Valley for sale

The May Day workers holiday traces back to the sentinel events of May 1886 in America where workers took strike action in pursuit of an 8-hour working-day limit.   The Fete du Muguet dates back to the time of King Charles IX in the mid 16th century when he was apparently given a sprig of lily of the valley as a good luck wish.  The idea took hold and it’s a tradition still going strong today.

May Day 2014 lived up to expectations; we had spring showers interspersed with blue sky and sunshine, there were street sellers with bucket loads of lily of the valley on every corner and everyone was out and about promenading in the gardens and parks, umbrellas at the ready.

We strolled through the Jardin du Luxembourg with our Kiwi guest and took in the free photography exhibition currently in place on the outer fence of the garden.  This lovely exhibition “Fields of Battle – Lands of Peace” by Irish photographer Mike Sheil is part of the World War I commemorations.  There are hauntingly beautiful photos of sites that must have been anything but beautiful during those war years.

The photographs are on display here until early August, and from then they will be on show in London in St James Park.  There is also another commemorative display in the grounds of the Jardin du Luxembourg in front of the Senat building showing a large map of the WWI battlefields and a series of very interesting photographs of wartime work and activities.

With all the spring showers everything is looking so fresh and green and pretty, chestnut trees are bursting with flowers, the parks are beautiful.  It is no wonder that springtime is said to be the best time to visit Paris and no surprise that the tourists are arriving in force.  We are loving having our family and friends in town; there’s more adventures in Paris to come.

Spring flowers Jardin du Luxembourg

Spring flowers Jardin du Luxembourg


7 thoughts on “May Day – celebrating spring

  1. kiwiyarns says:

    Sorry to hear you were unwell. I am glad you are on the mend. Thanks again for sharing more of what Paris is really about. 🙂

  2. Very enjoyable as always, Keiry! You have to battle through the ‘flu and we just read about it – and all the rest! But you haven’t told us how you felt during the pollution peak not so long ago. I’d have been going up the wall and doing anything to get out! Even at the best of times the ring-road smells like a gas chamber to me. (Yes, living in the country really does ruin you for some things.)

    • keiryberry says:

      Oh yes, the pollution was very noticeable visually, thick brown air! I could not smell it (as I have noticed in other cities) but my throat did become irritated/scratchy. I stayed inside mostly those days, (a lot of knitting) and didn’t do my usual daily walks. The spring breezes, puffy clouds and a few showers are a much better deal.

  3. Carmel says:

    Kiery ….. I’m moving to hk for my husbands job ….. No more travel to France for holidays so I’ll have to get my fix reading your blog. Talking bout pollution I’m not sure how I’ll get on with air quality in hk or knitting for warmth as every time I’ve been in hk it’s been boiling !! I’ll let you know how I’ll get on !

    • keiryberry says:

      Oh my goodness. Have you been back to NZ too? (Read that on kiwiyarns blog). HK will be different to Wales! Yes do keep me posted via Ravelry or comments here about HK. Bon courage!

      • Carmel says:

        Yes in Nz at mo , spending some quality time with my parents before the big move , did have a couple of days in hk previous to arriving here. We are all so jet lagged that I’ve been up between 3 -5 am knitting and keeping the kids entertained ! I’m due to start my new knitting projects soon , self striping socks and Shetland wool vest thing . Ill pop on rav once I start !

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