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What’s on: 17 essential events in France this spring

From kites to jazz and from words to wine, here's a selection of 17 events in France over the next few weeks of spring that are well worth getting in your calendar.

What's on: 17 essential events in France this spring
The Kite festival in Berck-sur-Mer. Photo: AFP

1. Kite festival, Berck-sur-Mer, northern France, 14th to the 22nd of April


The long, windy beaches of Berck sur Mer see hundreds of thousands of tourists gather annually to admire giant kites of all shapes, sizes and colours. Celebrating the 32nd year of the event, there will be displays, workshops and fireworks at night.



Photo: cerf-volant-berck.com

2. Scallop Festival, Brittany, 21st to the 22nd of April

It's a sad time of year for seafood-lovers as the scallop season comes to an end, but Brittany fishing towns Erquy, Saint-Quay-Portrieux and Paimpol ensure it goes out in style with a dedicated festival.

There will be a parade, street entertainment, music and obviously plenty of food. Many restaurants offer special menus for the occasion and you can even go out with the sailors on one of the final fishing trips.

Photo: Alain Quemper/ Brittany Tourism

3. Festival of Birds and Nature, Somme Bay, Northern France, from the 21st to the 29th of April

A festival dedicated to bird and animal watching that has been around since 1991. For 9 days, you can discover the Somme Bay like you have never seen it before.

The Festival organises events such as bird watching tours, workshops for kids, wildlife documentary viewings, art exhibitions and more.

Poster of the event

4. Art and antiques festival, Antibes, southern France, 21st of April to the 8th of May



It's easy to see why the ancient city of Antibes, founded centuries BC and a favourite of Monet, Picasso and Renoir to name just a few, is an appropriate venue for one of Europe’s largest antiques and arts fairs.

The stalls, some covered and some open-air, will showcase jewellery, artworks and furniture, and the event has become popular with international traders and collectors.

Photo: Antibes art fair

5. Printemps de Bourges, central France, 24th to the 29th of April



This music festival gets bigger every year; over six days, more than 100 artists will perform from a diverse range of genres, with concerts showcasing big names as well as newcomers.

Music industry professionals regularly recruit new talent at the Printemps du Bourges, so if you’re the type of person who likes to hear new sounds before they hit the charts, it’s a good chance to spot about-to-be-discovered stars.

And you can get reduced rates for public transport tickets between Bourges and Paris.

Photo: Simon Gosselin/ Printemps-bourges.com

6. International Festival of Gardens, Château of Chaumont-Sur-Loire, Central France, From the 24th of April to the 4th of November

The 15th century Château of Chaumont-Sur-Loire opens its door from the end of April for all professional garden designers around the world to create unique pieces around the château.

The gardens are open to the public for 6 months so that tourists can see how each garden evolves during the seasons, Autumn being considered as the most beautiful time of all for the château.

You can have a walk by yourself or have a guide show you around to explain the gardens in more detail.

The château also hosts exhibitions of contemporary art, sculpture and photography.

Photo: Guillaume Souvant AFP

7. Foire de Paris, 27th of April to the 8th of May

Now running for 114 years in Paris, the fair focuses on innovation in five different areas of our daily life: house and lifestyle, wellbeing, fashion and accessories, leisure, everyday life and regional wine and gastronomy.

Visitors can test all kinds of products, making it great for anyone looking to furnish a new home or just find out more about technology.

You can also find the tropical music performances and African and South American cuisine.

What's on in France: Nine things to do in April Photo: Foire de Paris

8. The Great Roman Games, Nimes, southern France, 28th to the 30th of April

If you sometimes feel like you were born in the wrong century, this historical reenactment gives you a chance to experience life in Roman times, in the atmospheric setting of Nimes' Roman amphitheatre.

This year's theme is about Spartacus, the famous gladiator who conducted a slave uprising against the Roman Republic.

You can relive the Roman games (without the bloodshed) with gladiatorial combat, chariot races and an enactment of the final battle between Spartacus and the Romans.

9. Jazz under the Apple Trees, Coutances, Northern France, the 5th to the 12th of May

In French, ‘Jazz Sous Les Pommiers’ is a music festival dedicated to all things jazz. With more than 400 professional musicians and 60 concerts, the Festival offers a wide range of jazz genre from classic to electronic jazz.

If you play an instrument yourself, why not try your hand at an open jam session? They is always one happening at the festival and it’s open to everyone.

Famous jazz musicians are also invited to this festival so be sure to book a ticket well in advance.

Last year’s poster for Jazz Sous Les Pommiers

10. Nuits Sonores, electronic and indie festival, Lyon, 6th to the 13th of May

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.

Photo: www.nuits-sonores.com

11. European night of the museum, May 19th, across the whole of France



On the evening of the 19th, 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

12. Festival du Sully et du Loiret, Loiret in Central France, 24th of May to the 17th of June

A classical music festival that is mainly held in the town of Sully-sur-Loire, near Orléans. The festival is on to its 45 year now and offers a vast range of concerts, from classical music, to jazz, to amplified music. All concerts are held in heritage sites such as the château of the Duc de Sully which adds to the whole atmosphere and makes the concerts really unforgettable.

Photo @festivaldusully

13. La fête des voisins, May the 25th, 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.

Citizenside/Thierry Thorel/AFP

14. The Vitiloire Wine Festival, Tours, Loire Valley, the 26th and 27th of May

In 2003, the town of Tours in Central France decided to promote the wines and vineyards in the Loire Valley by organising a free entry festival dedicated to the wines of the region.

The festival has been growing ever since. This year, more than 150 vignerons will take part to showcase their product. There is much to do at this festival and, of course, much to taste. Activities include wine conferences, tasting, talks with chefs, gourmet cuisine making, wine markets and walks and bike rides organised to discover the Loire Valley and their vineyards.

A must-see for any wine enthusiast!

Photo: my-loire-valley.com

15. D-Day Festival, Normandy, from the 26th of May to the 10th of June



This year marks the 12th edition of the festival that began in 2007 to commemorate the anniversary of the Allied Landings in Normandy during the World War Two.

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.

Photo: www.calvados-tourisme.co.uk

16. Word Festival, Charité sur Loire, the 30th May to the 3rd of June

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.

 

Photo: www.festivaldumot.fr

18. Festival of Saint-Denis, Paris, the 31st of May to the 5th of July

Since 1970, the Saint-Denis festival showcases classical music orchestras and recitals in Saint-Denis, a town North of Paris. The concerts are held in the beautiful Basilica of Saint-Denis or in the Maison D’Education de la Légion d’Honneur, a very old and prestigious French school.

Conductors from the whole world come to the festival and you will also find the Parisian orchestras of Radio France, playing Mahler, Mozart, Schubert and more.

The conductor Robin Ticiatti last year at the festival Photo @festivalsaintdenis

 

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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