Fête de l’Assomption
The 15th August is the festival of l’Assomption, celebrated by Catholics throughout France and commemorating the departure of Mary from this life and the assumption of her body into heaven.
The religious festival became a public holiday in the 17th century under King Louis XIII. In 1637, having been married for 20 years and still without a male heir, the king asked his subjects to host processions across the land in honour of the Virgin Mary, in the hope that she would grant him a son.
The very next year, in 1638, Louis XIV was born and the date became a jour férié.
Each year following this ‘miracle’, pilgrims would head to Lourdes on the 15th August and on this date in 1858, the Virgin Mary appeared to a young shepherdess, Bernadette Soubirous, in the Grotte de Massabielle.
The date has also been appropriated by non-Catholics as a mid-summer celebration so whatever your beliefs, there will be plenty of entertainment for everyone.
Most shops close (although some small shops and supermarkets remain open in the morning) and there are festivities, concerts, fireworks and more in most towns and villages.
Contact your local Office de Tourisme for more info.