What’s on in France: Ten things to do in February

Despite the cold, there's simply too much going on in France to stay locked up inside. Here are ten events worth checking out - from France's biggest carnival to a major film festival and Chinese New Year celebrations.

What's on in France: Ten things to do in February
Tightrope walkers at the Nice Carnival in 2014. Photo: Nicolas Grevet/Flickr

Nice, Alpes-Maritimes: Carnival – February 13th to March 1st

The 2014 edition of the Nice Carnival. Photo: Nicolas Grevet/Flickr

What better way to shake off the winter blues than celebrating at the famous carnival in Nice on the French Riviera? All the dancing, music, and colourful costumes will definitely put you in a good mood. The two-week long carnival is a massively popular event, attracting hundreds of thousands of cheerful visitors. Not quite a match for its Brazilian counterpart, perhaps, but it's close.   

Paris: International Agricultural Show – February 21st to March 1st

If you want to escape the busy city life for a day, head to France’s biggest agricultural fair for a bit of rural fun. Check out agricultural machinery, take your children to see horses, ponies and other animals, or attend the animal version of the Miss France contest where the most beautiful farm animal will be crowned. And let’s not forget the bar and wine cellar where you can sample some of the country's finest.  

Clermont-Ferrand, Puy-de-Dôme: International Short Film Festival – January 30th to February 7th

The 2011 edition of the International Short Film Festival. Photo: Ville de Clermont-Ferrand/Flickr

If you want to get to know the rising stars of the short film industry, head to the International Short Film Festival in Clermont-Ferrand in central France. Now in its 37th edition, the event attracts film aficionados and movie makers from all over the world. A jury will award a prize for the best national and international picture, and pick a winner from the "Labo" category, a selection of particularly unique films.

Bormes-les-Mimosas, Var: Flower Parade February 22nd

The traditional flower parade “Corso fleuri” in the town of Bormes-les-Mimosas in the Var department dates back to the 17th century and is one of the town’s most popular events. The parade sees a good dozen or so beautifully decorated caravans file through the city, ending in a “bataille de fleur” where visitors are showered with flower petals. So in case you've been feeling gloomy and colourless after the winter months, the "Corso fleuri" will definitely help you snap out of that.

St. Valentin, L'Indre: St. Valentine Festival – February 14th & 15th

You might think Paris is the place to be on Valentine’s Day but the tiny St. Valentin village in central France goes all out on the most romantic day of the year. During the two-day event in the self-proclaimed “village of lovers”, couples can indulge in a delicious breakfast, take ballroom dancing lessons, listen to concerts or even attend a mass where a priest will bless their relationship. Definitely more romantic than queuing at the Eiffel Tower all day.

Menton, Alpes-Maritimes: Lemon Festival – Fête du Citron – February 14th to March 4th

The annual Lemon Festival in Menton. Photo: Laurent Carles/Flickr

The “City of Lemons”, Menton on the French Riviera, lives up to its nickname during the annual Lemon Festival where giant sculptures are put on show, entirely covered in lemons, oranges and tangerines. Around 160,000 visitors from all around the world join the locals each year to celebrate the town’s most important fruit. Check out the different exhibits, attend parades during the day and at night time or browse a market selling local products. 

Paris: Chinese New Year – February 21st & 22nd

For the large Chinese community in Paris, the start of the New Year is a big deal that needs to be celebrated accordingly. Tourists and locals alike gather in the streets of Paris to ring in the New Year and watch colourful dragons, lions, and other creatures parade through town . The events take place in the Marais and Belleville neighbourhoods, as well as in Chinatown, perfect for trying out some Asian specialties after the festivities in one of the district's many restaurants.

Cannes, Alpes-Maritimes: International Games Festival – February 27th to March 1st

Visitors playing at the international Games Festival. Photo: Stéphane Gallay/Flickr

If you spend hours in front of your screen playing Assassin's Creed or love nothing more than showing off your knowledge in Trivial Pursuit, then the International Games Festival is for you. The 30,000 square metre space will welcome over 270 exhibitors as well as 300 authors and illustrators, showcasing everything from board games to the latest simulation game. Participate in tournaments, discover the game of the year, or meet the person behind your favourite video game.   

Lyon, Rhône: Tattoo Convention – February 7th & 8th

Well over a hundred tattoo artists from all around the globe will show off their skills at the 18th edition of the Lyon tattoo convention. Tattoo enthusiasts can watch artists at work, browse dozens of stalls hosting accessories and equipment, and even get tattooed or pierced themselves. The whole event is rounded off with food, drinks, and different live performances.

France: Chandeleur – February 2nd

Strawberry and Chantilly cream crêpe. Photo: Colonnade Boston/Flickr

Mark the 2nd of February in your calendar because on this special day you're allowed to eat as many delicious crêpes as you want. While Chandeleur isn't really an event but a holiday, the tradition of feasting on crêpes stuffed with sweet and savoury fillings is too good to not make the list. Also, don't forget wash down your crêpes with some delicious apple cider. Here's a recipe of traditional French crêpes to make sure you're all set for Chandeleur.

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What’s On in France: Nine great things to do in November

It's getting colder in France, but why not heat up your social calendar with a few of these events?

What's On in France: Nine great things to do in November
Photo: AFP

Jazz sur La Ville Festival, Marseille, November 5th to December 2nd

“Life is a lot like jazz. . . it's best when you improvise,” said George Gershwin.

Get ready to feel jazzy as this year celebrates the twelfth edition of the Jazz Festival in Marseille, welcoming a seemingly endless list gifted artists. The festival, offering dozens live concerts, stretches out from Marseille to other locations in the region such as Aix-en-Provence and Avignon. So if you live in the south-east region of France you have no excuse.

Le Salon de la Photo exhibition, Paris, November 8th to 12th

Head to the Porte de Versailles for the chance to appreciate the creative works of modern-day photographers. The Photographers' Corner, where amateurs and professionals display their work, is not to be missed at Le Salon de la Photo exhibition. 

Chocolate Fair, Lyon, November 9th to 11th

Forget Cadbury's chocolate as Lyon, the widely known capital of gastronomy, has some tasty treats for you to get your teeth stuck into. The eighth edition of the chocolate fair, held at the Centre de Congres, is offering culinary demonstrations, cooking workshops and of course the famous parade of chocolate dresses that will be taking centre stage. Think of it as Paris Fashion Week meets Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. 

Herring Festival, Etaples sur mer, Calais November 10th & 11th 

Dressed up in traditional costumes, the people of Étaples meet up on the banks of the Canche River in northern France to celebrate their favourite fish. Every year, thousands of people join them to enjoy herring in all its delicious forms – pickled, grilled, or smoked and accompanied of course by lots of wine.

France-wide: Armistice Day November 11th 

On Armistice Day, France honours those who fell or were injured during World War I with commemorative services. As 2018 marks the centenary of The Great War, memorial services this year are sure to be especially poignant. In Paris, a military parade will take place, and a ceremony will be held at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe. 

Beaujolais Nouveau Festival, November 15th

As the world's best wine party (as thought by many beaujoholics) is fast approaching, will you be ready to uncork a fruity bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau at the stroke of midnight? The festivities will be marked by fireworks, music and various parties to celebrate the region's first wine of the season

Beaujolais Nouveau day is one of France's most loved festivals. Here are 14 things you probably didn't know about it.

Africolor Festival, Paris, November 16th to December 22nd 

This music festival is bound to bring some colour back into your life during this cold and depressing time of year. The festival, which started out in the Parisian suburbs and has now spread across the whole city and its surroundings, features artists from all over Africa.

Christmas Market Colmar – November 23rd to December 30th

Though it may seem a bit early, the Christmas market in the picturesque town of Colmar in the Alsace region kicks off in late-November. Wandering around the illuminated city, trying out Alsatian specialities, and sipping from a mug of mulled wine will definitely get you into the Christmas spirit.

Salon des Vins, Paris, 29th November to December 2nd

At the foot of la Porte de Versailles, this exhibition will be a great opportunity for wine lovers to personally meet local sellers and to discover new wines as well as the history behind them.