What’s on: Ten events across France this September you won’t want to miss

September in France means back to work, school or university for most people - but there are plenty of events taking place across the country to help you get over the 'rentrée' blues. Here's our pick of ten that you won't want to miss.

What's on: Ten events across France this September you won't want to miss
A fancy dress 'wine marathon' is just one of the events. Photo: AFP

Jazz à la Villette, Paris, 31st August – 13th September

Prolong your summer with this 12-day jazz festival at La Villette. The line-up promises an eclectic mix of pop, funk and soul as well as jazz performances. The festival, which has been running since 2002, even offers shows for children.

This year the line-up features acts from a host of big names including Tony Allen, Kyle Eastwood, and Keziah Jones, as well as many exciting new performers.

Braderie de Lille, September 2nd-3rd

Bargain hunters should head to Lille for this event, which is the largest flea market in Europe, attracting more than two million visitors each year.

You can haggle for items ranging from furniture to vintage clothing as well as more specialist items, with the local streets separated by theme.

Photo: AFP

European Fair, Strasbourg, September 1st-11th

With over 1,000 exhibitors taking part, this annual cultural fair is well worth a visit. This year, the focus is on Cuban food, culture and traditions. New for 2017's event is a vintage flea market and a musical stage where you can enjoy performances in a range of genres, plus casting for TV talent show The Voice.

Paris Design Week, September 8th-16th

Taking place across the entire city, Paris Design Week showcases the very best in contemporary and classic design. It's free of charge so you can wander into one of 180 venues, including exhibition spaces, museums, and even restaurants.

The event has developed a reputation for celebrating new designers and spotting trends before they hit the shops – so it's a great place to go if you want interior design ideas that will put you ahead of the curve.

Photo: AFP

Marathon du Medoc, Bordeaux, September 9th

Billed as the 'longest marathon in the world', it's also the booziest and one of the most enjoyable, thanks to a route that takes participants through vineyards, chateaux, and food stops to sample the region's delicacies. And yes, that includes plenty of wine, as well as oysters, steak and more local treats.

Most runners wear fancy dress – even the competitive ones – and this year the theme is Music in LP records.

Photo: AFP

Les Journées du Patrimoine, September 16th-17th

Across the country, thousands of cultural heritage sites will open their doors to the public as part of the programme. There are also events ranging from guided walks to concerts, exhibitions, and workshops.

This year the theme is 'Youth and Heritage' and it's a great opportunity to see behind the usually-closed doors of both public and private properties.

The French President's Office at the Elysee Palace, pictured during a previous edition of the event. Photo: AFP

World Puppet Theatre Festival, Champagne-Ardennes, September 16th-24th

Held every two years, this festival sees the streets of Charleville-Mézières transformed with a huge variety of puppet shows. Around 250 troupes from across the world perform, from small glove puppet shows to elaborate marionettes. 

To accompany the festival, the town also hosts a range of workshops and exhibitions, allowing you to get a glimpse behind the curtains of the puppet theatres.

Fete de la Gastronomie, September 22nd-24th

Autumn is the best time for food and wine across France, and this nationwide festival celebrates the very best of French fare. France's gastronomy is classed by Unesco as 'intangible cultural heritage of humanity' and the festival programme includes workshops, demonstrations, and even special offers in many restaurants.

Whether you want to go on a truffle hunt or enjoy the wine harvest, head to a street market or gourmet restaurant, there's sure to be something going on near you.

A temporary restaurant set up outside Paris City Hall last year. Photo: AFP

Technoparade, Paris, September 23rd

For the 19th year, this one-day festival returns to the capital to promote electro and techno music. Thousands of people are expected to turn out to the 5km street party with a procession of floats equipped with sound systems blasting out music, and both renowned and up-and-coming DJs.

British Film Festival, Dinard, September 27th – October 1st

This five-day festival features premieres, short films, and competitions celebrating the best of British in the world of cinema.

Each year some of the biggest names in French and British cinema descend on the Breton seaside town, and a jury of leading figures shortlists six films, with the best one awarded the Golden Hitchcock.


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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.