Things haven't changed since then, if anything the division between state and church is more reinforced than ever, with schoolgirls being sent home for wearing headscarves and all religious paraphernalia banned in the workplace.
In a modern society, this secularity is a good thing, it seems. Religion is religion and the rest of the day-to-day is well, not religion. Let's keep it that way. Religion plays no part in affairs of state here in France. Unlike in the UK, where the Queen is both Head of State and Defender of the Faith.
So with all of this "we are not a religious state" attitude, you'll be surprised to note that tomorrow is a national holiday. Why? It's Ascension of course. The country will come to a standstill for the day in order to celebrate Jesus ascending to Heaven (that is what ascension is, right?).
Government will not be sitting, civil servants will not be working. For what is undoubtedly a religious holiday. In a secular society.
You can do the maths yourself, I'm sure, but this doesn't add up to anything logical, does it?
Naturally, I felt the need to discuss this with Debbie today (I know how much you all love that girl. I did this for you). This is how the conversation went...
"So, celebrating Ascension in a secular country. How does that work?"
"It is not a religious holiday. It is part of our culture" she said, looking at me like I'm crazy to not understand.
"But it has to be a religious holiday. It's celebrating Christ ascending to Heaven. How is that not religious?"
"Because it is part of our culture. We are a Catholic country, after all."
"Hmm. Not really though. You are a secular country, where the main religion is traditionally Catholic, but even so, only half of the nation claim to be Catholic" - I'd looked my facts up before starting the conversation - useful with Debbie.
"Yes, and being secular is very important to the Republic. It is a cornerstone of who we are" she quite rightly replied, giving herself the benefit of being on both sides of the argument - therefore undeniably correct.
"I agree" I said. "The division between church and state is important here in France. But I don't see why that doesn't extend to people getting days off to celebrate religious events."
And there's the crux of the argument for me - 'we'll be as secular as we like, until it affects our days off, then screw it'.
"You are just being difficult. Why do you have to question everything?" She seemed to be getting annoyed. "Just accept things. Enjoy the day off. Maybe you should go to England and eat cucumber sandwiches."
I wasn't sure where she got that one from, but as insults go, it didn't really work.
"Anyway, I don't care" she said. "I am not Catholic, but I will take as many of these Jesus days as they are willing to throw at us".
"Lucky that Pentecost is just around the corner then" I replied.
I ducked as the stapler went flying past my ear.