National 'crepe day', February 2nd, France
The Day of Chandeleur is celebrated 40 days after Christmas in France - on February 2nd - in honour of when Jesus was presented at the temple in Jerusalem. Traditionally, the French celebrated this holiday by decorating their homes with candles, holding a lantern procession, and of course, eating loads of crêpes.
Head to France's Lemon Festival, Feb 17th to March 4th
The “City of Lemons”, Menton on the French Riviera, lives up to its nickname during the annual Lemon Festival where giant sculptures are put on show, entirely covered in lemons, oranges and tangerines. Around 160,000 visitors from all around the world join the locals each year to celebrate the town’s most important fruit. Check out the different exhibits, attend parades during the day and at night time or browse a market selling local products.
Take in the Chinese New Year parades, February 25th
For the large Chinese community in Paris, the start of the New Year is a big deal that needs to be celebrated accordingly. Tourists and locals alike gather in the streets of Paris to ring in the New Year and watch colourful dragons, lions, and other creatures parade through town. The events take place in the Marais and Belleville neighbourhoods, as well as in Chinatown, perfect for trying out some Asian specialties after the festivities in one of the district's many restaurants. More in-depth detail here.
Head to Nice for the annual Carnivale, from Feb 17th
This year, it’s the King of Space carnival. From the 17th of February to the third of March, the Nice Carnival will be “fuelled by the exhilarating tales of Jules Verne or the iconic images of Georges Méliès”, the official website reads.
There will also be influences from real-life recent events in the news, like the recent mission by French astronaut Thomas Pesquet. Watch this space.
Play in the International Games Festival, Feb 23th and 24th
If you spend hours in front of your screen playing Assassin's Creed or love nothing more than showing off your knowledge in Trivial Pursuit, then the International Games Festival is for you. The 30,000 square metre space will welcome hundreds of exhibitors, authors and illustrators, showcasing everything from board games to the latest simulation game. Participate in tournaments, discover the game of the year, or meet the person behind your favourite video game.
Rev into the Retromobile show in Paris, Feb 7th to 11th
Petrol heads from around the world will be heading this four-day convention, when Retromobile opens its doors to one of the world’s most renowned collections of vintage cars and prestigious collections from around the world.
The event will be hosted at the ParisEXPO center at Porte De Versailles where car fanatics can discovers 550 exhibitors ranging from carmakers, auction houses, car art galleries and bodywork restorers as well as 500 vintage cars on show.
See the 'Hidden Paris', 2-4 February.
At Paris Face Caché, you can get a glimpse of Paris's hidden side when the city opens up around 100 sites that are normally inaccessible to the public.
Experience a Flower Parade, February 25th
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 a good dozen or so 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.
Celebrate Valentine's Day the traditional way, Feb 14th
Celebrating Valentine's Day in the City of Love is a tired cliché. Any couple can go to an overpriced restaurant and declare their love for each other in front of the Eiffel Tower. But did you know that France used to have a Valentine's Day tradition called a “loterie d'amour” or a “drawing for love”?
For this event, singles would line up opposite each other and call out to each other flirtatiously until they eventually paired off. The women who were left single at the end would build a bonfire and chuck in photos of the men who rejected them while hurling insults and curses. So if you find yourself single this Valentine's Day, get some girlfriends together and celebrate the traditional way.
Check out the International Agricultural Show in Paris, Feb 24th to March 4th
If you want to escape the busy city life for a day, head to France’s biggest agricultural fair for a bit of rural fun. Check out agricultural machinery, take your children to see horses, ponies and other animals, or attend the animal version of the Miss France contest where the most beautiful farm animal will be crowned. And let’s not forget the bar and wine cellar where you can sample some of the country's finest vintages.