What’s on in France: Ten fun things to do in April

Spring has finally sprung in France, and there are plenty of ways to celebrate up and down the country.

What's on in France: Ten fun things to do in April
Photo: AFP

Printemps de Bourges, central France, April 12th-17th

This music festival is now in its 40th year and gets bigger every time; over five days, more than 100 artists will perform from a diverse range of genres, with concerts showcasing big names as well as newcomers.

Photo: AFP

Music industry professionals regularly recruit new talent at the Printemps du Bourges, so if you’re the type of person who likes to hear new sounds before they hit the charts, it’s a good chance to spot about-to-be-discovered stars. There are discounts on tickets if you’re going to multiple concerts, and even reduced rates for public transport tickets between Bourges and Paris.

Paris marathon, 3rd April

There will be 57,000 runners pounding the streets in the 40th edition of the Paris marathon, one of the world's biggest, with a route taking in iconic Parisian views. Even if you won’t be participating, you can find a scenic spot to watch the racers and enjoy some of the entertainment on offer for the occasion. 

Photo: AFP

Mini marathons will take place on April 2nd for children between the ages of five and ten, who can also enjoy live music and face painting. And if you’re inspired to take up running yourself, the Paris Color Run, a manageable 5km race where participants are covered in coloured paint along the way, takes place on the 17th – and there's still time to enter.

Art and antiques fair, Antibes, southern France, April 16th – May 2nd

It's easy to see why the ancient city of Antibes, founded centuries BC and a favourite of Monet, Picasso and Renoir to name just a few, is an appropriate venue for one of Europe’s largest antiques and arts fairs. 

Photo: Martin/Flickr

The stalls, some covered and some open-air, will showcase jewellery, artworks and furniture, and the event has become popular with international traders and collectors. A new addition this year is the option of a professional guide to show you around the stalls, meaning that even novices can get a good understanding of the goods on display.

The Great Roman Games, Nimes, southern France, April 23rd-24th

If you sometimes feel like you were born in the wrong century, this historical reenactment gives you a chance to experience life in Roman times, in the atmospheric setting of Nimes's Roman amphitheatre. 

With gladiator games, street entertainment and workshops for children taking place throughout the day, the Games culminate with a huge reenactment of the Naval Battle of Actium involving over 500 actors. This was the last war of the Roman Republic, fought against against Marc Antony and Cleopatra, and led to the founding of the Roman Empire.

British cinema festival, Bastia, Corsica, until April 12th

France is renowned for its cinematic traditions, but homesick UK expats, or anyone interested in film, might appreciate something a bit different. 

Photo: Studio Cinema

For a fortnight, Bastia’s Studio Cinema will show a different British film each day at 10am (check their website for details) accompanied by a brunch.

Kite Festival, Berck-sur-Mer, Hauts-de-France April 9th-17th

The long, windy beaches of Berck sur Mer see hundreds of thousands of tourists gather annually to admire giant kites of all shapes, sizes and colours. 

Photo: AFP

There are displays, shows, and workshops on making and flying kites, plus firework shows at night. 2016 will also see the biennial International Kite Championships take place as teams from all over the world compete for the title, currently held by a British team.

Scallop Festival, Brittany

It's a sad time of year for seafood-lovers as the scallop season comes to an end, but Brittany fishing towns Saint-Quay-Portrieux, Loguivy-de-la-Mer and Erquy ensure it goes out in style with a dedicated festival.

Photo: Christopher Bulle/Flickr

There will be a parade, street entertainment, music and obviously plenty of food. Many restaurants offer special menus for the occasion and you can even go out with the sailors on one of the final fishing trips.

Foire de Paris, April 29th-May 8th

Now running for 112 years in Paris, the fair focuses on innovation in five different areas of our daily life: house and lifestyle, wellbeing, fashion and accessories, leisure and everyday life and regional wine and gastronomy.

Photo: AFP  

Visitors can test all kinds of products, making it great for anyone looking to furnish a new home or just find out more about technology.

Comic strip festival, Aix en Provence, April 1st-3rd

Fans of Asterix and co will enjoy this three-day festival at the Cite du Livre library. 

Photo: AFP

As well as checking out the wide range of comics on sale, visitors can also attend talks, workshops and screenings with experts in the industry from artists to publishers.

Street Theatre Festival, Cucuron, southeastern France, April 21st-24th

Cucuron and Vaugines, two mountainside villages which have each been used as locations for several movies, are worth visiting at any time of year for their rural charm alone, but on the last weekend of April their streets will come alive with different public performances both from amateur and professional groups.

Photo: LaurPhil/Flickr

Most of the shows will be free, though some will cost €5, and if you want to support the festival you can donate to their crowdfunding site.

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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.