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

What's on in France: Ten things to do in October
Keep an eye out for zombies in Paris this month. Photo: AFP
As the last dregs of Summer give way to chilly mornings and the sudden urge for a soothing chocolat chaud, October is the month where we head indoors to bask in France’s abundant art and cultural offerings, with a few outdoor events thrown in for good measure.
1: Nuit Blanche – October 3rd, 7pm to 2am
This night-time arts showcasing event, held in a range of venues across the city of lights on Saturday 3rd October, gives a rare chance to bend France’s strict opening hours, while admiring the artwork of 30 contemporary artists. The ‘all-nighters’ have mapped a nocturnal art trail around Paris to highlight contemporary art spaces and to make art accessible to all.

(The Paris Town Hall during a previous Nuit Blanche. Photo: AFP)
2: Festival de cinéma Lumière, Lyon, October 3rd-4th
Sit back and enjoy both the newest cinematic offerings and retouched versions of some old classics – both French and international. With many events being held in the beautiful Musee Lumiere, cinephiles can soak up the creative atmosphere of where cinema began with the Lumiere brothers at the turn of the 19th century. Keep an eye out for the 2006 Scorsese hit The Departed, featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson.
3: Festival Polar, Cognac, October 16th
For the 20th edition of this Southern arts festival, get ready for a plethora of artistic offerings including ubiquitous comic strips (a French national obsession), cinema, literature, television and theatre. Why not head west to La Rochelle while you’re there to soak up the last of the summer rays while tucking into some moules frites.
4: Prix de l'arc de triomphe, Paris, October 3rd and 4th
Dubbed ‘the world’s greatest horse race’ after nearly a century-long history, the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, which started in 1920, is an opportunity to see the most hotly contested races of the season, in the relaxed setting of the Bois du Bologne in the south west area of Paris. With its long-standing reputation for class and prestige, be sure to bring your best Ascott hat – who knows who you’ll be rubbing shoulders with. 
5: FIAC International Contemporary Art Fair, Paris, October 21st to 25th
This event sees the best contemporary arts spaces of Paris – such as the Palais de Tokyo, the Fondation Louis Vuitton, and the Jeu de Paume set in the Tuileries Gardens – unite in a city-wide art fair showcasing some of the best contemporary talent. Now in its 42nd year, the list of venues and artists continues to grow – check out the full listings here.
6: Andy Warhol Shadows Exhibition, Paris, October 2nd 
This is the first ever showcasing in Europe of Warhol’s monumental Shadows series (1978-79), so one not to be missed for Warhol enthusiasts or novices alike. Comprising over 200 works, it is a 130-metre long installation of paintings composed by the artist in 1979. The exhibition will be around until January next year and can be found at the Musée d’Art Moderne.
7: Pepper Festival , Espelette, October 24th to 25th
Held in the small town of Espelette in the Basque Country, this Pepper Festival celebrates the popularity of its namesake spice – le Piment d’Espelette. Enjoy free samples, music and hearty food peppered around the town. Why not join in some pelote (the local sport) while you’re there.
8: Zombie Walk, Paris, October 3rd
Just in time for Halloween, join thousands of Parisians disguised as the living dead in this popular spook-march. Don your scariest masks, costumes or blood-stained garments and channel your inner zombie. The walk starts at 1pm at Place de la Republique. Check out the Facebook event here.
9: Let it Beer Festival, Bordeaux, October 1st to 3rd
If you consider yourself a beer connoisseur, head down to Bordeaux for a beer festival spear-headed by local breweries including the Bordeaux Beer Shop and l’Amirale Biere. By jumping on the craft beer band wagon, you can treat yourself to specialist taster sessions, workshops on how to cook with beer and even take over the taps yourself. So grab a cold one and head to the quais to enjoy the view. And read a whole lot more about Bordeaux here, including an interview with the owner of the Bordeaux Beer Shop.
10: Quai des Bulles Festival, St Malo, October 10-12th .
The French obsession with comic strips (or Bande Dessinee) shows no sign of abating, as some 400 comic strip artists get together to showcase their work and share ideas at this Brittany Festival. Prizes are awarded for best scriptwriters and the most promising young author, and there will be special events this year in remembrance of the Charlie Hebdo writers. 
By: Ellie O'Driscoll