Ten great things to do in France in September

Who said summer was over? It may be back to work for most of us but there’s still plenty to do and see this September. Here are some unmissable events around France.

Ten great things to do in France in September
The Techno Parade in Paris will see tens of thousands of electro music fans will take to the streets of the capital. Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP

1. Deauville American film festival, September 4th-11th

Since 1995 the Deauville festival has been awarding prizes for American independent cinema with previous guests including Hollywood stars Robert de Niro and Clint Eastwood.

It’s also the only festival in the world to screen films for the general public and cinema enthusiasts 24/7 for a 10-day period, from the first Friday in September to the Sunday of the following week.

For a full programme visit the festival’s website

Irish actor Pierce Brosnan (C) at the 2014 edition of the Deauville American film festival. Photo: Charly Triballeau/AFP

2. European Fair in Strasbourg, September 4th-14th

With over 1,000 exhibitors, this annual cultural fair is a major event in France.

Each year, this fair focuses on one country invited as a guest of honour. The theme for this year’s fair – the 83rd – is India.

There, visitors will be able to explore Indian traditions, crafts, culture and food. For more information click here

Thailand was the guest country for the 2010 European Fair. Photo: Ji-Elle/Wikicommons

3. Marathon du Médoc, September 12th

With a generous six hours given to runners to complete the race, this marathon is said to be the longest in the whole world, as well as one of the most fun.

Each year the race sees runners dress up in themed outfits, stopping along the way at various chateaux and food stops to sample some of the region’s best wines and local delicacies.

This year’s theme is “The Medoc marathon dressed up to the nines!” so make sure you bring your best suit or ball gown. Click here for more information.

Two marathon runners pass a vineyard during the 2000 Médoc Marathon. Photo: Michel Gagne/AFP

4. Fête de a gastronomie, September 25th-27th

This food festival brings food professionals and foodies together in a celebration of France’s culinary traditions.

The nationwide festival includes cookery classes, recipe competitions and special tastings at some of the country’s top restaurants.
For more information click here

A banquet organized during the 2011 Fête de a gastronomie in Avignon. Photo: Gerard Julien/AFP

5. Monaco Yacht Show, September 23rd-26th 

With 500 hundred exhibitors and 121 superyachts afloat, this is the largest international yacht exhibition in the world that sees thousands of tourists, yacht enthusiasts and billionaires descend on the historic Port Hercule in Monaco. 

Unfortunately, most of the tours of the superyachts are by invitation only so, unless you're a billionaire with money to burn, you'll have to content yourself with a view from the shore. 

For more info click here

A photo of Port Hercule during the 24th edition of the Monaco Yacht Show in 2014. Photo: Valery Hache/AFP

6. Game of Thrones exhibition, Paris, September 8th-12th

Summer may just be coming to an end, but for Game of Thrones fans winter is certainly coming, with the upcoming arrival of an exhibition devoted to the blockbuster TV series.

The free exhibition will include 70 items from the cult HBO series, including the wedding outfits of Margaery Tyrell and Joffrey Baratheon in the “Purple Wedding” section, one of Khaleesi’s dragons as well as the mythical Iron Throne. 

For more information click here.

The exhibition includes Khaleesi's dragon eggs. Screengrab: YouTube

7. Techno Parade, Paris, September 19th

This year’s techno parade, now in its 17th year, will see tens of thousands of electro music fans will take to the streets of the capital. Special guests include Korean DJs Mushxxx, Soolee and Grace Kim. 

The parade kicks off at 12pm at Port Royal and ends some 5 km away in Place de la République. Click here for more information.

A DJ plays music in front a crowd during the 17th edition of the Techno Parade music event in 2014.Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP

8. Festival du film Britannique du Dinard, September 30th-October 4th

So it's no Cannes, but this 26-year-old festival in the seaside town of Dinard, Brittany, nevertheless attracts some of the biggest names in French and British cinema. 

Each year, it shortlists six films, with the best one awarded the Golden Hitchcock by a jury of leading figures. The public are also invited to preview screenings and other events at five different venues. For more information click here

Previous high-profile guests have included actresses Jane Birkin and Charlotte Rampling. Photo: Valery Hache/AFP

9. Braderie de Lille, September 5th-6th

This is no ordinary flea market. Every year over 2 million people flock to the town of Lille in search of a bargain at Europe's largest flea market. 

You'll find just about anything here from vintage clothes to bric-à-brac. For more information and a street guide to the market click here.

People visit the annual Braderie de Lille. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

10. Les Journées du Patrimoine, September 19th-20th

This annual EU programme will see around 16,000 French cultural heritage sites throw open their doors to the public. There will also be a whole range of activities to choose from, including walks, exhibitions, workshop and conferences.

This year the theme is “21st century hertiage, a history of the future”. For a full programme click here

Visitors queue up outside the Ministry of Justice on the final day of the Journées du Patrimoine in 2007. Photo: Stephanie de Sakutin/AFP

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UPDATE: Is it possible to drive between Spain and the UK via France?

Travelling between Spain and the UK during the pandemic has been very difficult due to border closures, cancelled flights and quarantines, but what is the situation like now? Is it possible to drive between Spain and the UK via France?

Driving between Spain and UK
Photo: Bertsz / 67 images/ Pixabay

Several readers have asked about the restrictions and necessary documents and tests needed to drive to the UK and if it’s possible. Here’s what you need to know.

Travelling by car between the UK and Spain at the moment is possible, but not very easy. Although it’s a lot easier now than it was before the state of alarm ended, it will still involve PCR and/or antigen testing, quarantine, and lots of form-filling. This will mean extra expenses too. 

Spain and France have both updated their rules on travel as restrictions begin to ease. Here’s a look at what you need to know driving between the UK and Spain, via France right now.

Leaving Spain

Movement in Spain has become a lot easier since the end of the state of alarm on May 9th. This means that you can easily drive across regional borders without the need to prove specific reasons.

There may still be certain municipalities or health zones that you might need to avoid because their borders are still closed due to a high number of cases, but for the most part, your drive through Spain, up until the French border, will be easy.

Keep in mind that some regions still have certain restrictions in place such as when bars and restaurants are allowed to open and a few still maintain curfews, so you’ll need to check the rules of those regions you’re planning on driving through.

READ ALSO: UPDATED: What are the post state of alarm restrictions in each region in Spain?

Crossing the French border from Spain

Travel into France is allowed for any reason, including for tourism and family visits. This easing of restrictions was introduced on May 3rd, which saw France opening up both its regional and international borders.

According to the French embassy in Spain: “Entry into the metropolitan territory from a country in the European area is subject to the presentation, by travellers over eleven years of age, of a negative result of a PCR test, carried out within 72 hours prior to departure. This obligation applies to all modes of travel (arrival by road, rail, air or sea)”.

They also state that all travellers will have to present an affidavit/certificate of international travel, certifying that they do not have symptoms of Covid-19 infection and that they are not aware of having been in contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19 in the fourteen days prior to the trip.

“If you are over eleven years old, you agree that a biological test for SARS-CoV-2 will be carried out upon arrival on French territory” it continues.

The certificate can be downloaded from the website of the French Ministry. The supporting documents must be presented to the control authorities at the border.

The test must be carried out within 72 hours of departing for France and the antigen test is not accepted. You must take a PCR test, otherwise, you’ll be refused entry to France.

A Spanish police officer checks PCR coronavirus tests at the border between Spain and France. Photo: RAYMOND ROIG / AFP

You can drive straight through France, as there’s no quarantine requirement for those coming from inside the EU.

Note that France still has several restrictions in place, but they are gradually easing. As of May 19th, the curfew was extended to 9pm and bars and restaurants were allowed to operate outdoor services only. This means that you’ll need to stop driving and find somewhere to spend the night after the 9pm cut-off time.

If you have to travel past curfew for an essential reason, you will need an attestation permission form, which you can find HERE.

From June 9th, the curfew will be extended again until 11pm and the interiors of bars and restaurants will be allowed to re-open. 

Masks are compulsory in all indoor public spaces across the country, and also outdoors in most of the larger towns and cities. If you don’t wear one, you could face a fine of €135.

Entering the UK

On May 17th, the UK government lifted its ban on all non-essential travel abroad and replaced it with the traffic light system, assigning countries to red, amber or green lists, according to their health data.

France and Spain are currently on the amber list, as well as most other European countries, bar Portugal, which is on the green list.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The European countries on England’s ‘amber’ travel list and what that means

This means that you must follow the amber list rules.

The UK government website states that if coming from an amber-list country, even if you’ve been vaccinated, you need to follow these rules before you enter England:

 On arrival in England you must:

  • quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 days
  • take a COVID-19 test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8

Children aged 4 and under do not need to take the day 2 or day 8 test.

You may be able to end quarantine early if you pay for a private COVID-19 test through the Test to Release scheme.

The traffic light list only applies to England, but Scotland also has its own traffic-light system, which at the moment has the same green-list countries as England. It is thought that Wales and Northern Ireland are likely to adopt the traffic light system too.

If you’re entering the UK from an amber country, you can go for any reason. It doesn’t have to be an essential trip and entry is not limited to UK nationals or residents.

Find further information on UK travel rules HERE.

If in the future, France makes it onto the green list, then no quarantine will be necessary. Regardless, of this, a negative Covid-19 test is still needed to enter England, plus another test on or before day 2.

What about driving back to Spain?

The UK is still advising against travel to amber countries for leisure or tourism reasons, which France and Spain are both currently on.

This isn’t a travel ban, but the official stand can mean that your travel insurance won’t be valid, so check your policy before you travel.

JUNE UPDATE: From Monday, May 31st, France is tightening up entry requirements for arrivals from the UK, following in the footsteps of Germany and Austria as European countries become increasingly concerned about circulation of the ‘Indian variant’ of Covid in the UK.

So what’s the situation if you are just passing through?

If you are returning to your permanent residence in another EU or Schengen zone country then you can travel, as one of the listed ‘vital reasons’ is returning home. You will, however, need to show some proof of your residency, ideally a residency card.

If you are travelling for another reason you can travel through France, provided you spend less than 24 hours in the country.

The testing requirement applies to all arrivals, even if you are only passing through France, but if you spend less than 24 hours in the country you are not required to quarantine.

You will also need to check the rules in your destination country on arrivals from France. If you are entering France from an EU or Schengen zone country you will need to show a negative Covid test taken within the previous 72 hours and this must be a PCR test. You can enter France for any reason from an EU/Schengen country.

And yes, these rules all apply even to the fully vaccinated.

To find out more about the rules and exceptions for travel between France and the UK click the link below.

READ MORE: Spain-UK road travel – Can I transit through France despite the new Indian variant restrictions?

Currently, the Spanish government website states that only citizens and legal residents of the European Union, Schengen states, Andorra, Monaco, The Vatican and San Marino, as well as those who can demonstrate through documentary evidence an essential need to enter Spain, will be able to enter the country.

However, Spain recently announced that it would welcome British tourists into the country without a negative PCR test from May 24th. 


The website also states that “all overland travellers (excluding children under the age of 6 years old) who wish to enter Spain by road from France, are required to present a negative PCR or antigen test taken within 72 hours prior to entry”.

This applies to everyone, even if you have been vaccinated already.

Please note The Local is not able to give advice on individual cases. For more information on international travel to and from Spain, see the government’s website and check the restrictions in your destination country with the appropriate embassy.

READ ALSO: Reader question: Can I fly from the UK to Spain to visit family or my second home?