SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

TOURIST

The 9 best festivals and events in France in autumn 2021

From herring to mushrooms, running to zombies, here are some of our favourite festivals and events through the autumn and winter in France.

The 9 best festivals and events in France in autumn 2021
Photo: Philippe Desmazes/AFP

After 18 months in which virtually all large events were cancelled, France’s calendar of festivals, events and markets is slowly getting back to normal.

Because of the health situation, we advise anyone planning to attend these to check the festival’s website in advance to ensure that the event is going ahead as planned.

Also bear in mind that extra health measures are likely to be in place, from restricted ticket numbers to mask rules or a requirement for a health passport to enter.

READ ALSO The 6 best destinations to visit in France this autumn

Drummers stand in a row during the Fete des Vendanges de Montmartre. Photo by FLORIAN DAVID / AFP

October

Les Toqués du cèpe

Fall is of course mushroom season and lots of French towns hold fêtes des champignons or mushroom markets but probably the most famous is the one in Mende, in the Lozère département. Les Toqués du cèpe runs on October 1st and 2nd and has a calendar of entertainments as well as lots of stalls and the chance to taste all of the many different things you can do with a mushroom.

If your tastes are more rarefied, you could wait for the truffle festivals in December and January.

Nuit Blanche

On October 2nd, Paris will stay up all night with its 20th Nuit Blanche (sleepless night) event. Venues such as museums and galleries stay open all night, there’s a programme of concerts and entertainment and the périphérique ringroad will be closed to traffic in some parts to allow a mass night-time bike ride. Public transport will also run all night to allow revellers to get home. 

Fête des Vendanges, Montmartre

September and October mark the crucial days of the wine harvest across France. But while you might think of Bordeaux and Burgundy as the wine-producing areas, Paris also produces its own wine. Well, a small harvest comes from the vineyard in Montmartre to the north of the city. While they don’t quite produce enough to quench the thirsty Parisians, the quarter is proud of its wine-producing heritage and holds a wine harvest festival every year to celebrate. This year it runs from October 6th to 10th – details here

Paris Marathon

Back in February 2020, the Paris marathon was one of the first big events to be cancelled due to a new virus known as the coronavirus. Rescheduled several times since then, the 2021 race will take place on October 17th. The half marathon passed off successfully on September 5th, so organisers will be hoping the marathon can go ahead too. All runners will need a health passport.

In bad news for athletes who like to drink wine while they run, the Médoc marathon has been cancelled, but will be back in September 2022.

Enthusiasts take part in the Zombie Walk event in Paris. Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP

November

Dieppe Herring festival

The Normandy town of Dieppe is proud of its fishing tradition and holds the Fête du Hareng on November 13th and 14th. As well as eating lots of delicious herring (and the scallops which the town is also famous for) there is also a parade and music.

It’s not just Dieppe that gets into fish-based celebrations in November, neighbouring coastal towns in the Seine-Maritime département hold their own festivals celebrating herring throughout November – full list here.

Beaujolais Nouveau Day

Every third Thursday in November (Thursday,18th this year) the new bottles of beaujolais hit the shelves in France.

The special day is the first of the year that wine-makers are allowed to sell their primeurs (the young wines that are produced quickly and are ready to drink six to eight weeks after the harvest).

The day itself started out life as just a marketing gimmick, but towns around the Burgundy region have their own festivals to mark the start of Beaujolais Nouveau sales, the largest of which is in Lyon where the barrels of wine are rolled through the city centre before being opened.

READ ALSO 13 things to know about Beaujolais Nouveau (and why it’s less imbuvable than it used to be)

Zombie walks

Until fairly recently, Halloween wasn’t really a big deal in France (although All Saints Day on November 1st is a public holiday) but zombie walks are becoming increasingly popular in cities including Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, Reims, Caen and Avignon. Either go and watch the frightful sight or if you want to get involved, there are zombie orientation days lined up to get you in the mood.

This year health passports will be required for all officially organised walks, because even the undead need to make sure they are Covid-safe.

Traditional Alsacian houses decorated and illuminated for Christmas, in Colmar, eastern France. Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP

December

Lyon fête des lumières

Undoubtedly one of France’s most beautiful and magical festivals, the Lyon festival of lights is back this year, from December 8th to 11th. Over three days, the city is draped in spectacular illuminations, installments and light shows, which turn it into a place of wonder as soon as it gets dark. Many of Lyon’s famous restaurants also run special offers for festival-goers once they have had their fill of the lights. 

Christmas markets

Most towns and cities in France hold their own Christmas markets, but for the best ones you need to head east.

The German influence in the Alsace-Lorraine regions of France makes Christmas a big deal there and the markets are very special. The most famous is Strasbourg (starting from November 26th in 2021) but there are numerous smaller markets in nearby towns including Colmar and Mulhouse.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

TRAVEL NEWS

Weekend travel warning on French roads as summer getaway continues

The roads will be packed over the weekend France's roads watchdog has warned as tens of thousands of holidaymakers escape the cities and head for coast or countryside. 

Weekend travel warning on French roads as summer getaway continues

The Bison Futé service has classed traffic levels across most of France on Saturday as red – its second highest level, meaning travel on roads out of all major French cities will be “very difficult” – with those in the eastern Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region classed as  “extremely difficult”, the highest level.

But the problems begin earlier, with traffic levels on France’s major arterial routes rising from lunchtime on Friday, as some holidaymakers set off early to avoid the rush.

Image: Bison Futé

Bison Futé advises road users heading away from major cities in France to:

  • leave or cross the Île-de-France before 12noon;
  • avoid the A13 between Paris and Rouen from 5pm to 9pm, and between Rouen and Caen from 3pm to 9pm;
  • avoid the A10 between Orleans and Tours from 4pm to 7pm;
  • avoid the A63 between Bordeaux and Bayonne from 3pm to 7pm;
  • avoid the A7 between Lyon and Orange from 4pm to 10pm, and between Salon-de-Provence and Marseille from 3pm to 8pm;
  • avoid the A8 between Aix-en-Provence and Nice from 12pm to 8pm;
  • avoid the A9 between Montpellier and Narbonne from 4pm to 7pm;
  • avoid the A62 between Bordeaux and Toulouse from 4pm to 8pm;
  • avoid the Mont-Blanc tunnel in the direction of Italy from 1pm to 7pm (waiting time greater than 1 hour).

Meanwhile, those heading back to the cities from popular French holiday resorts should:

  • avoid the A13 between Rouen and Paris from 5pm to 8pm;
  • avoid the A10 between Bordeaux and Poitiers from 1pm to 8pm;
  • avoid the A7 between Orange and Lyon from 3pm to 6pm;
  • avoid the A8 near Aix-en-Provence from 4pm to 9pm;
  • avoid the A62 between Toulouse and Agen from 3pm to 8pm.

On Saturday, the busiest day of the weekend on France’s roads, Bison Fute says motorists heading away from major cities should:

Image: Bison Futé
  • leave or cross Ile-de-France after 4pm;
  • avoid the A13 between Rouen and Caen from 1pm to 3pm;
  • avoid the A11 between Paris and Le Mans from 11am to 1pm;
  • avoid the A10 at the Saint-Arnoult-en-Yvelines toll area from 8am to 12pm, and between Orléans and Bordeaux from 10am to 6pm;
  • avoid the A63 between Bordeaux and Bayonne from 1pm to 5pm, 
  • go through the Fleury toll area on the A6 after 12pm;
  • avoid the A7 between Lyon and Orange from 10am to 3pm and between Salon-de-Provence and Marseille from 1pm to 6pm;
  • avoid the A9 between Orange and Montpellier from 8am to 10am;
  • avoid the A75 between Clermont-Ferrand and Montpellier from 11am to 1pm;
  • avoid the A62 between Agen and Toulouse from 11am to 5pm;
  • avoid the Mont-Blanc tunnel in the direction of Italy from 10am to 1pm (waiting time greater than 1 hour);

Those heading the other way on Saturday should:

  • return to or cross Ile-de-France before 2pm;
  • avoid the A10 motorway, between Bordeaux and Poitiers, from 1pm to 3pm;
  • avoid the A7 motorway, between Marseille and Salon-de-Provence, from 9am to 3pm and between Orange and Lyon, from 12pm to 3pm;
  • avoid the A8 motorway, between Nice and Aix-en-Provence, from 10am to 2pm;
  • avoid the A9 motorway, between Montpellier and Orange, from 11am to 1pm.
  • Travel becomes much easy on French roads on Sunday, Bison Fute said.
Image: Bison Futé

But it has still issued the following advice for those travelling to holiday destinations

  • avoid the A10 between Poitiers and Bordeaux from 3pm to 5pm;
  • avoid the A63 between Bordeaux and Bayonne from 5pm to 8pm;
  • avoid the A7 between Lyon and Orange from 12pm to 4pm.

Transport Minister Clément Beaune reminded holidaymakers that motorway operators were offering 10 percent reductions in the price of tolls holders of holiday vouchers for the whole of the summer holiday period.

SHOW COMMENTS