• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Ten reasons you should visit France in 2016
The Paris Ritz, re-opening next year. Photo: AFP

Ten reasons you should visit France in 2016

Catherine Edwards · 29 Dec 2015, 13:57

Published: 29 Dec 2015 13:56 GMT+01:00
Updated: 29 Dec 2015 13:57 GMT+01:00

Of course, the old favourites are still here; the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the delicious wine. But there are some very good reasons to make 2016 the year you visit France, whether for the first time or for the hundredth.

Over the next year, the country will play host to the UEFA Euro football championship and commemorations of some of World War I’s biggest battles, and there are some exciting new openings of museums and hotels.

At France’s first annual tourism convention back in October, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius spoke of the measures the French government is taking to improve its tourism offerings, including social media communications, better booking systems and professional training for staff, so visiting should run more smoothly than ever.

Here’s the low down on what’s going on in 2016.

Visit a new art island, Porquerolles, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur 

 An aerial view of the island. Photo: Pascal Pochard-Casabianca/AFP

As an alternative to the bright lights and crowds of Paris, explore the car-free, idyllic island of Porquerolles in the Port-Cros National Park Reserve, just off the French Riviera coast. If the white beaches and woodland paths weren’t a good enough reason to visit, from 2016 it will become the setting for contemporary art displays from the Carmignac Foundation, which says it will create paintings and sculptures “in harmony with the unique surroundings”.

Visit Bordeaux's new wine museum, southwestern France 


Photo: Megan Cole/Flickr

OK, it’s never going to be a bad time for wine-lovers to visit France, but why not have your visit coincide with Bordeaux’s annual wine festival in the last weekend of the June, when you can also visit the city’s new Wine Musuem, opening earlier in the month.

The Cité du Vin will be housed in a huge glass tower which will dominate the skyline. Visitors can learn about wine and culture using interactive displays, before enjoying a view over the city – and the region’s vineyards – from the observation deck or the seventh floor restaurant. Naturally, there will also be a wine bar, and even tasting workshops. 

Experience prehistoric cave life through new archaeological and artistic exhibitions, Montignac, southwestern France 

 Visitors admiring rock art in another of the region's caves. Photo: Patrick Kovarik/AFP

For a unique historical and cultural experience, head to the Lascaux caves, a Unesco World Heritage site in southern France. Next summer, Lascaux IV, a combination of interactive displays and art exhibitions, will open in the huge cave complex in the Vézère Valley. The caves in this area are famous for the art etched into their walls and estimated to be over 17,000 years old. 

A replica of a cave which used to lie in the same spot, Lascaux IV will teach visitors about cave life in prehistoric times, rock art, archaeology, and there will also be exhibitions from international contemporary artists.

Cheer on your team at the Euro championships, cities across France

 The trophy which will be won by one deserving team. Could it be France? Photo: Loic Venance/AFP

There’s never been a better time for football fans to visit France, as the country hosts the 2016 UEFA European football tournament from June 10th to July 10th – the biggest ever, with 24 sides competing. France itself will be in a group with Romania, Albania and Switzerland, the draw on December 12th revealed.

Matches will be hosted by cities in all corners of the country; Bordeaux, Lens, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Paris, Toulouse, Saint-Denis, Saint-Etienne, and in January Lyon will be unveiling a new stadium built specifically for the event, so you can add a football flavour to your trip whichever region you want to visit.

Be one of the first guests at a newly renovated five star hotel, Paris 

The Paris Ritz, pictured just before it closed its doors for the renovation project. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

Anyone with a penchant for luxury travel is sure to relish the chance to be one of the first guests through the doors of newly renovated world-famous hotels Hotel Crillon and the Paris Ritz. The Ritz was home to Coco Chanel and Ernest Hemingway for years, and countless celebrities have stayed in its rooms – the grandest of which has been declared a national monument by the French government. 

Both hotels have military links; during World War II, the occupying Germans used the Ritz as the local headquarters of the Luftwaffe, and the Crillon’s eastern building is still used as the headquarters of the French Navy today. Even if a stay in one of their luxury suites is beyond your budget, just visiting the buildings gives you a taste of French cultural history.
 
Commemorate World War I centenaries, Somme, northern France, and Normandy

The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. Photo: martin_vmorris/Flickr

2016 marks one hundred years since some of the most famous – and deadly – battles of World War I. The Battles of the Somme, the first Allied offensive of the war which saw over 600,000 Allied lives lost, will be commemorated. The battle will be remembered in events held jointly by the French and British governments, starting on the 1st July – the anniversary itself – and continuing throughout the summer to mark the battle’s 141-day duration. The Verdun Memorial will also open this year, commemorating one of the Somme’s major battles.

It’s also the 950-year anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, which will see a variety of commemorative events in the Normandy region.

Explore Europe's new horseriding trail



A statue of d’Artagnan, the inspiration for the path. Photo: Histoiredegascogne/Wikicommons

Keen equestrians have an incentive to travel to France in the form of the new route d’Artagnan, which will allow horse-riders to cross the country as well as into Spain, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands. The stretch between Champlécy and Sainte Croix is scheduled to be completed in early June, and the entire bridle path will be finished by the end of the year.

The route will set off from Lupiac in southwestern France, the birthplace of d’Artagnan, who is the protagonist of the novel The Three Musketeers. And fans of the book might also be excited by the opening of a Three Musketeers musical in France in September next year. 

Enjoy regional art as the Unterlinden Museum reopens, Alsace, northeastern France



Visitors admiring the Isenheim Altarpiece. Photo: Sebastien Bozon/AFP

If you think you’ve seen all the art that the capital has to offer, why not venture further afield to one of the country’s most-visited museums outside the Paris region, the Unterlinden Museum in Colmar. Reopening after a five-year renovation, it displays regional and international artworks from prehistoric times to the present day.

A former convent and the municipal baths have been redesigned and a new building constructed to better present the museum’s impressive collections, which include the Isenheim Altarpiece, a sixteenth century altarpiece and the Unterlinden’s most famous work.

Story continues below…

Watch the Tour de France start at France's most spectacular spot

Photo: Jeff Pachoud/AFP

Le Grand Depart will take place at the foot of Mont St Michel in 2016, one of France's most popular tourist spots. The island monastery attracts three million visitors each year, a number which is sure to rise next year. Normandy has hosted stage finishes of the race previously but this time it takes centre-stage, with the first leg of the race following a 188 km stretch of the Normandy coast and finishing on Utah beach, the site of the 1944 D-Day landings.

Visit Paris' biggest ever agricultural fair

 Photo: Loic Venance/AFP

The Salon de l'agriculture is running from February 27th to March 6th with the theme 'agriculture on the move' and a focus on sustainable farming in the wake of 2015's COP climate accord. New in 2016 are extended opening hours so you can pack more into your visit, extra exhibitions and plenty more animals.

Catherine Edwards (catherine.edwards@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
US issues travel alert for France ahead of Euro 2016
Photo: AFP

The US has warned its citizens that France is a potential terror target during Euro 2016.

France lets widow have child with dead husband's sperm
An illustration of intracytoplasmic sperm injection. Photo: Wellcome Images/Flickr

A French court has ruled that the semen of a dead man can be used for artificial insemination.

French rail strikes to hit around half of train services
Photo: AFP

A rolling strike by French rail workers will begin on Tuesday evening with estimates suggesting around half of the train services will be not be running.

IN PICTURES: Wild weather pummels France
Submerged cars in the flooded town of Bruay-la-Buissiere, near Lens, northern France. All photos: AFP

Heavy rains have left submerged cars and flooded villages across France, and even breached the banks on the Seine River.

Paris to build humanitarian camp to welcome migrants
A new unofficial migrant camp in the north of Paris. Photo: AFP

Paris will soon be home to an official migrant camp that meets UN standards.

Paris has wettest May since 1873 (but Brittany stays dry)
Photos: AFP

Have you noticed it's been raining a lot in Paris in May? In fact it's been chucking it down more than in any other month of May for 143 years.

Is this France's best tourist attraction yet (for adults)?
Photo: AFP

Everything you need to know about France's new attraction: the world's biggest wine theme park, or a "Disneyland for adults".

French economy hit by drop in consumer prices
Photo: AFP

France's consumer prices have fallen, leaving the country stuck in a deflationary spiral.

France to put €1 billion into improving teachers' pay
Photo: AFP

France's teachers are soon to take home a bit of extra cash each month.

What's on in France: Ten great things to do in June
Photo: AFP

From music to car racing to food glorious food there is plenty to keep everyone entertained in France in June.

Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
National
How you'll be affected by France's ongoing strikes
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Features
What to expect when working in a bar in Paris
National
Violent storms in France: How to avoid being struck by lightning
National
Which of France's strikes could affect Euro 2016?
'You're not welcome': French police chief warns English yobs
How to avoid running out of fuel if you're coming to France
National
The French fuel crisis for dummies: 27 key questions
National
The trials and tribulations of moving to rural France
National
Five free smartphone apps to help you find petrol in France
Culture
Paris: Street artist makes the Louvre pyramid disappear
Interactive map: Where to find petrol in France
Who is the French union in a 'fight to the death' with the government?
Society
Opinion: Why the French are absolutely right to go on strike
National
Here's why both sides despise France's labour reforms
National
Who is really to blame for the fuel crisis in France?
National
Here are the parts of France hardest hit by the fuel shortages
Travel
It will soon be time to say 'au revoir' to the Paris Metro ticket
Culture
Revealed: The ultimate sex map of France
National
Migrants at Calais camp given dignity in death
International
How good is security at Charles de Gaulle airport?
Culture
How to make a traditional French cassoulet
Culture
IN PICS: Commuter trains in Paris get royal makeover
International
Terror attack 'likeliest cause' of missing EgyptAir plane
2,739
jobs available