Events and festivals in France
The French love a great celebration. A nation renowned for its arts, fashion and gastronomy, the events and festivals of France are the chance to honour all manner of subjects, from film and books to historic events and sports. Indeed, there’s plenty to celebrate here, and throughout the country, you’ll find a good deal of local celebrations throughout the year, whether it's a wine festival in Bordeaux or a Jazz festival in Paris! Here are some of the most important and unmissable events and festivals in France:
Monte Carlo Motor Rally (January)
For more than 90 years, the Monte Carlo Motor Rally has been among the most important rallying events in the world. Held in January, this rally is famed for its treacherous conditions, with much of the route affected by snow and ice at this time of year. Taking place along the French Riviera, the Monte Carlo Motor Rally is the first stage of the larger, World Rally Championship.
Nice Carnival (February)
The largest carnival celebration in France, this French festival takes place in the beautiful Mediterranean city of Nice on the French Riviera. Said to rival the Rio Carnival, Nice Carnival is a vibrant celebration that takes place between February and March every year. Lasting around two week,s the celebrations include mesmerizing float parades, giant sculptures, live music, dancing and a general party atmosphere! One of the most memorable traditions is the ‘Battle of the Flowers’, when hundreds of thousands of colourful blooms are tossed into the crowds from elaborate floats.
Cannes Film Festival (May)
Every May, the city of Cannes becomes the focal point of the world’s media as it hosts the annual Cannes Film Festival. Celebrities, A-List actors, royalty and high-profile politicans all head to this city on the French Riviera to tread the famous red carpet and attend the premiers of the latest blockbuster movies. Although admission to the premiers is by invite only, a variety of off-shoot events take place and are available for the public to enjoy. Nevertheless, people-watching around Cannes at this time of year is entertaining in its own right, with luxury cars and VIPs taking over the city from mid-May.
Bastille Day (July 14th)
One of the most important national holidays in France, Bastille Day commemorates and celebrates the birth of modern-day France. In memory of the storming of the Bastille and the French Revolution, Bastille Day celebrations include nationwide parties, parades, fireworks and lots of red, white and blue decorations! The most spectacular celebrations take place in Paris, with many of the parties beginning on the evening of July 13th.
Tour de France (July)
The most prestigious cycling race on earth, the Tour de France is loved by biking enthusiasts the world over! A course of almost 3,500 kilometres, the race highlights the diverse beauty of the French landscapes. A peloton of riders set off every July on this unforgettable journey, which differs slightly each year. Around 3 weeks later, the winner crosses the finish line at the Champs-Elysees in Paris, a truly impressive spectacle and one of the most important sporting events in France.
Festival de la Loire (September)
A lesser know event, the Festival de la Loire takes place every two years at the end of September along the River Loire. Hundreds of sailors from across France and Europe flock to the Loire town of Orleans to show off their pristine flat-bottomed boats and enjoy the largest boat festival in Europe. Expect music, great food and plenty of beautiful sailboats!
Fete de Saint-Sylvestre (New Year’s Eve)
A nationwide celebration, New Year’s Eve is know as the Fete or Reveillon de Saint-Sylvestre. Entire cities take on a festive atmosphere, especially in Paris, where huge crowds gather to mark the beginning of the new year at midnight. It’s not uncommon for French strangers to share a kiss, whilst watching the fireworks display at the Eiffel Tower is surely one of the most spectacular ways to ring in the new year!