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What’s on in France: Eleven things to do before spring

Spring is around the corner - here are some top things to check out before then.

What's on in France: Eleven things to do before spring
Photo: Maxpixel
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. 
 
Truffle Festival, Sarlat-la-Canéda, south western France, January 14th to 15th
 
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.  
 
Clermont-Ferrand, Puy-de-Dôme: International Short Film Festival  – February 3rd to 11th 
 
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 
 
Photo: www.fete-du-citron.com
 
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
 
Photo: Eponimm/Wikimedia
 
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.

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WHATS ON

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. 

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