What’s on in France? Ten top things to do in May

May in France is an optimum time to get out the house. With more bank holidays than any other time of year, spirits are high despite the sun’s reluctance to shine. From films to sport, these are the best events to make the most of this fun-packed month.

What's on in France? Ten top things to do in May
Photo: AFP

Nuit des Musées, May 20th

On the evening of the 20th museums across the whole of France will throw open their doors free of charge to visitors between 6pm and midnight. Most museums will also offer special activities such as concerts, workshops and screenings.

Photo: AFP

D-Day Festival (May 20th-June 18th), Normandy

This year marks the 11th edition of the festival since 2007 when it was introduced to Normandy, to commemorate the anniversary of the Allied Landings in Normandy during the second world war. It marks an important part of France's history and the festival takes over the city with film screenings, historical walks, reenactments and theatrical performances, making this one of the best times to visit Normandy for history lovers.


Roland Garros, French Open (May 22nd- June 11th ), Paris

Although tickets may be hard to get hold of for the annual tournament, it is a huge deal in Paris so you will be able to watch the matches live at numerous bars and screens across the city. So brush up on the rules of tennis, because it is all anyone in France will be talking about for two weeks.

Grand prix de France moto, May 19th, 20th, 21st

Another big sporting event to put on your calendar. Tens of thousands of people are expected to descend upon the western French town of Le Mans for the motorcycling Grand Prix. Here’s a preview to get you revved up.


La fête des voisins (May 19th), nationwide

Thanks to poor plumbing and thin walls, French neighbours, especially in Paris, are infamous for their disputes. Yet since its launch in Paris in 2000, 'Neighbours Day' has become a global success, with people across the world seizing the opportunity to get to know the people living nearby, even if it might be the first time they have spoken all year.

If nothing else, it's a good excuse for a party and people across France will be organizing garden gatherings and aperitifs in the communal areas of their apartments or roads, so if you haven't already – get involved.

Photo: AFP

Cannes Film Festival (May 17th-28th), Cannes

It's that time of year again and this year will mark the festival’s 70th anniversary. As always this period will be a prime time for a bit of celeb spotting on the French Riviera, sipping a glass of rosé. The jury for this year's panel has just been announced to include Will Smith and Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar as President.

Photo: AFP

Paris Beer Week (May 5th- 13th), Paris

Great news for ale appreciators. For a whole ten days, craft beer lovers across the capital are invited to take part in “over 150 fun, innovative, educational, and crazy events”. Details of beer tastings, beer walking tours and workshops that will be going on can be found here.

Photo: Francois Guillot / AFP

Nuits Sonores, electronic and indie festival, May 24th-28th

Electro music lovers take note. This year’s Nuits Sonore festival in Lyon promises to draw an intergenerational crowd as well as a superb programme of international and local artists with a rich mixture of styles.


Word Festival, Charité sur Loire, May 24th-28th

Located in the tiny medieval town of Charité sur Loire, this is a festival devoted to the celebration of words – whether spoken, written or sung. Over four days artists, writers and scholars alike will gather there to do just that in a series of workshops, exhibitions and readings.


International Fair in Bordeaux, May 20th-28th

If you’re a home-owner or are buying property in France then this could be just the ticket. At the expo you’ll find everything home-related from furniture, household appliances, construction equipment, as well as handicrafts and jewellery.



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.