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

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.

What's on in France: Ten things to do in October
Keep an eye out for zombies in Paris this month. Photo: AFP
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


Everything you need to know about France’s 2022 summer sales

In France, you can only shop the best deals twice a year - during the soldes. Here is everything you need to know about this year's summer sales.

Everything you need to know about France's 2022 summer sales

They happen twice a year – Each year, France has two soldes periods: one in the winter, usually starting January, and another in the summer, usually starting in June.

This summer, the soldes will start on Wednesday, June 22nd in most parts of France and run for four weeks, so even though you might be tempted to go on the first day, keep in mind they’ll be going on for a while.

They are progressive, so items will be continuously marked down as the soldes wear on. If you wait, you are risking that your favourite t-shirt might sell out quickly, but if you’re lucky it might end up marked down even further.

During 2020 and 2021 the government altered sales dates and time periods to help shops cope with closures and lockdowns, but now we’re back to the usual timetable.

This is the only time stores can have “sales” – Technically, the soldes are the only time that stores are allowed to have sales, but the definition of ‘sale’ is important.

Basically, the French government qualifies a ‘solde‘ as the store selling an item for less than they purchased it for.

During the rest of the year discounting is allowed in certain circumstances, so you might see promotions or vente privée (private sales, usually short-term events aimed at regular customers or loyalty-card holders) throughout the year.

In these situations the stores might be selling items for less than their original price, but they are not permitted to sell the item for less than they bought it for. 

Shops are also permitted to have closing-down sales if they are shutting down, or closing temporarily for refurbishment.

They are strictly regulated by the French government – Everything from how long the soldes go for to the consumer protection rules that apply to the very definition of ‘solde’ is regulated by the French government, and the main purpose of this is to protect small independent businesses which might not be able to offer the same level of discounts as the big chains and multi-national companies.

Whether you shop in person or online, the same rules apply.

As a consumer, you still have the same rights as non-sales times regarding broken or malfunctioning items – meaning you ought to be entitled to a refund if the item has not been expressly indicated as faulty. The French term is vice caché, referring to discovering a defect after purchase.

On top of that, stores must be clear about which items are reduced and which are not – and must display the original price on the label as well as the sale price and percentage discount. 

READ MORE: Your consumer rights for French sales

They started in the 19th century – France’s soldes started in the 19th century, alongside the growth of department stores who had the need to regularly renew their stock – and get rid of leftover items.

Simon Mannoury, who founded the first Parisian department store “Petit Saint-Thomas” in 1830, came up with the idea.

Funnily enough, this department store actually is the ancestor for the famous department store Le Bon Marché. His goal was to sell off the previous season’s unsold stock in order to replace it with new products.

In order to do this, Mannoury offered heavy discounts to sell as much merchandise as possible in a limited time.

The soldes start at different times depending on where you live – The sales start at the same time across most of mainland France, but there are exceptions for overseas France and certain départements, usually those along the border.

France’s finance ministry allows for the sales to start at different times based on local economies and tourist seasons. 

For the summer 2022 sales only two parts of metropolitan France have different dates; Alpes-Maritimes sales run from July 6th to August 2nd, while on the island of Corsica they run from July 13th to August 9th.

In France’s overseas territories the sales are held later in the year.

You might qualify for a tax rebate – If you are resident outside the EU, you might be eligible for a tax rebate on your sales purchases.

If you spend at least €100 in one store, then you qualify. You should hold onto your receipt and tell the cashier you plan to use a tax rebate so they can give you the necessary documentation (a duty-free slip).

Then when you are leaving you can find the kiosk at the station or airport dedicated to tax rebates (détaxe) and file prior to leaving France. For more information read HERE