The Great Public Holiday Exodus, Visualised Using Mobile Phone Data

In France, they know how to relax: On public holidays, virtually all city dwellers flee the urban environment to hit the beach and countryside. And this analysis of mobile phone location shows that in quantified, data-driven form.

This visualisation, put together by researchers from the Catholic University of Louvain and Free University of Brussels, uses data from hundreds of millions of phone calls made by over 20 million people. The result is clear: On a public holiday, population density in coastal towns like Biarritz and Bayonne soars by 50 or 60 per cent, while in cities like Paris it plummets.

The rest of the year, arguably, isn’t much different: During the week, Paris is full, and on the weekends there’s a mass exodus to coast and countryside. It’s an amazing, quantified insight into a phenomenon that’s know but notoriously tricky to accurately trace. It also makes me want to go on holiday very, very much. [PNAS via New Scientist]