January and February are nobody's favourite months of the year, but with these 11 events in France you can get 2017 off to a great start.
Photo: Pierre Bona/Wikimedia
A paradise for haute-cuisine aficionados, this festival is devoted entirely to the prestigious black truffle. Activities include workshops on identifying truffles, truffle hunting and, of course, a market to buy truffles and their related products. Don't miss the stands in Place de la Liberté where local restauranteurs offer samples of a kind of tapas made with foie gras and truffle.
Paris: Chinese New Year – January 25th to February 5th
2017 may have already started on the Western calendars, but for France's Chinese population, the new year is yet to come. January 28th brings a chance to celebrate and to (re)make resolutions, in case you've already slipped up since January 1st. Street parades and major celebrations will take place on several dates in the weeks surrounding New Years across the capital.
Paris: Paris Face Cachée – January 27th to 29th
For 72 hours this event allows you to see the city in a radical new light. Spaces that are normally shut off to the public will be open for you to discover, and unusual experiences will be set up in popular public spaces around Paris. The exact details of this event are strictly secret, as are some of the venues. Places are limited so reserve online for both the free and paid experiences. The dual themes of this event are 'dare to do the forbidden' and 'risk the unknown', so one for the adventurous.
French film prowess isn't limited to feature lengths, as this celebration of the art of short films demonstrates. The festival in central France awards national and international prizes as well as a "Labo" prize for particularly original or risky entries. This year's entrants include a film shown entirely through a mobile phone and an alternate rethinking of Romeo and Juliet.
Menton, Alpes Maritimes: Fête du Citron – February 11th to 1st of March
Menton on the French Riviera isn't called the "City of Lemons" for nothing. Its annual Lemon Festival attracts around 160,000 visitors to see their magnificent sculptures entirely covered in lemons, oranges and tangerines. Check out the different exhibits, attend parades during the day or night, and browse a market selling local products.
Nice, Alpes-Maritimes: Carnival – February 11th to 15th
Ranking as one of the biggest carnivals in the world, this spectacular in Nice is a highlight of the region. This year's theme is "The King of Energy", taking on the subject of energies like fossil fuels and renewables, as well as the energy used and created by humans. Squaring up to its Brazilian counterpart, the carnival attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to enjoy the dancing, music and costumes. This will certainly beat the winter blues away.
St. Valentin, L'Indre: St. Valentine Festival - February 12th and 14th
Photo: Pierre Bona/Wikimedia
Forget Paris, the most romantic place for Valentine's Day is the village of St. Valentin itself. For two days the charming St. Valentin transforms itself into the "village of lovers" where couples can book in to a programme of indulgence. A sleepy breakfast, an afternoon concert and evening chocolate-making certainly sounds better than queuing for the Eiffel Tower this Valentine's.
Paris: Les Choristes - The Chorus musical – from February 23rd
The beloved French film about a choir in a boys' school premiers in musical form this February at the Folies Bergère music hall in Paris. If you can't make it to the capital, the musical will be broadcast to theatres across France. The classic redemption story shows the unlikely success of choir lead by a kind-hearted music teacher in a school for unruly boys. Be quick if you want a seat, when the film first opened in Paris it outsold Harry Potter.
Cannes: International games festival – February 24th to 26th
A quirky alternative to Cannes film festival, the International Games Festival showcases over 270 exhibitors as well as 300 authors and game illustrators. From Trivial Pursuit to Assassin's Creed you can find stalls for all the classics as well as cutting edge game developments. Participate in tournaments, discover the game of the year, or meet the person behind your favourite video game.
Paris: International Agriculture Show – 25th February to 5th March
France's biggest agricultural fair makes a perfect family day out to escape city life. The show includes farm show staples like machinery displays and animal pens for the young ones, as well as many rural delights. Don't miss the animal Miss France contest where the most beautiful farm animal is crowned. For the adults, there's a bar and wine cellar to sample some of the country's finest.
Bormes-les-Mimosas, Var: Flower Parade – February 26nd
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 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.