SHARE
COPY LINK

DISCOVER FRANCE

9 things to do in France in Spring 2022

It's officially spring, the weather is warming up and France has lifted many of its Covid restrictions - so if you're in the mood for a mini-break, here are some suggestions.

9 things to do in France in Spring 2022
Photo by SYLVAIN THOMAS / AFP

Practicalities

First things first, you can find the latest on rules for international travel here.

The health pass/vaccine pass is no longer required for everyday venues in France, likewise the mask rule has been lifted for many indoor public spaces, although masks are still compulsory on all public transport. Find the full details here

March

Paris Orchid festival – the capital’s Jardin des Plantes is displaying 1,001 orchids (and that’s just a tiny fragment of its total collection) in the gardens’ enormous and beautiful greenhouses until March 21st. Tickets are €7 and you can buy in advance here or on the door. 

Members of the Giant Omelette Brotherhood of Bessières cook a giant omelette as part of Easter celebrations. Photo by REMY GABALDA / AFP

April 

Easter – Easter falls on April 17th this year, with the two-week school holidays taking place in late April and early May, depending on the zone.  

Easter in France has lots of its own traditions – including magic flying church bells – and of course a lot of chocolate, but many towns also have an Easter festival or market over the long Easter weekend (Easter Monday is always a public holiday).

Bessières omelette festival – The town of Bessières in south west France really likes omelettes – every year at Easter they make a giant one with 15,000 eggs. Created in a giant pan, the omelette feeds around 10,000 people. After Covid-related cancellations, the festival is back this year on April 16th, 17th and 18th.

Corsica’s ‘chained man’ – if you’re on the island of Corsica on Good Friday and you see a hooded man chained to a cross, don’t panic. It’s a local Easter tradition and there is always a long list of volunteers to be the ‘penitent’ on the cross.

Easter egg huntsla chasse aux oeufs (egg hunt) is a popular activity around Easter and many towns have their own event.

Printemps de Bourges – the four-day music festival runs this year from April 19th to 24th in the central French town of Bourges. It has a wide range of acts booked and it’s also a favourite place for scouts to sign new talent, so it’s a good place to hear the ‘next big thing’.
 

The Berck kite festival. Photo by PHILIPPE HUGUEN / AFP
 
La Rochelle kite festival – France’s west coast has some stunning long, windswept beaches, perfect for kite-flying. The International Kite and Wind Festival was cancelled last year, but is back from 16-18th April 2022. Some of the best kite pilots in the world will attend for kite-making workshops, kite-surfing displays, land-sailing activities and much more. This event is perfect for families. You can find more information HERE
 
Berck kite festival – on the north coast, the town of Berck-sur-Mer has its own kite festival, running from April 23rd to May 1st. This is a big event which a lot of international competitors travel to – full details here.
 
May 
 
Invasion of Britain (in Nîmes) – if you’ve ever wanted to travel back in time and watch Roman soldiers slaughtering Brits, then the southern French city of Nîmes has this covered for you. This city’s stunning 12,000-seater Roman amphitheatre offers an annual spectacle in May – this year it’s a re-enactment of the Roman Emperor Hadrien’s invasion of Britain in AD 122. The event runs from May 6th-8th – pre-book tickets here.    
 
French Open – the tennis tournament returns to Roland Garros from May 22nd to June 5th. Restrictions could have been relaxed by then, but as things stand the tournament may be without its defending champion Novak Djokovic, who has said that he will not attend if a Covid vaccination is a requirement for players. But there will be lots of other great players and superior catering though, so still well worth the ticket price.
 
Cannes film festival – The 2022 Cannes Film Festival is scheduled for May 17-28 in 2022. The event, widely considered  the most prestigious film festival in the world, was postponed in 2021 due to the Covid pandemic but did eventually go ahead. Visitors to this glitzy even get to rub shoulders with the stars and see multiple film premiers. Tickets generally go on sale in early May and are available via this page

Member comments

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

DISCOVER FRANCE

What you should know about the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis

The town of Saint-Denis to the north of Paris is home of the Stade de France and will play a major role in the 2024 Paris Olympics - but there's far more to know about the suburb and very good reason to visit.

What you should know about the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis

The legend of St Denis

The town of Saint-Denis is of course named after a saint, Saint Denis (pronounced dur-nee in French) in fact. The story of the saint and how he came to have a suburb to the north of Paris named after him is part history, part legend.

The short version is that he came to France a long time ago – some time between the 1st and 3rd century, but The Local wasn’t around then so it’s hard to ascertain from our records the exact dates he lived and died.

He is often referred to as the first Bishop of Paris and story has it that he was executed by being beheaded during a purge of Christians.

His remains ended up in the part of Paris now named after him with some stories saying he was buried there in the grounds of an aristocrat’s manor to avoid the body and head being thrown in the Seine, whilst other stories say he was killed in Montmartre and the angels flew his remains to St Denis.

The beheading of Saint Denis, as captured in an artist’s drawing on the wall of the Pantheon in Paris. 

Another version says St Denis himself picked up his own head and carried it from Montmartre to St Denis. We’ve had trouble confirming this version of the tale with local gendarmes.

Either way Christian followers ended up building a Basilica on the site of his remains and St Denis is officially the patron Saint of France and Paris.

Inhabitants wait in front of the Basilica Cathedral of Saint-Denis during a campaign visit by the French President. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP)

The Basilica 

The Basilica is in fact a Cathedral and whilst most visitors to Paris won’t venture past the Sacre Coeur or Notre Dame (when it was open) the Basilica is well worth a short Metro trip north.

Some very important people are buried in the fantastic Basilica as its website says: 

“Forty-two kings, thirty-two queens, sixty-three princes and princesses and ten men of the kingdom rest in peace there. With over seventy recumbent effigies and monumental tombs, the royal necropolis of the basilica is today the most significant group of funerary sculptures from the 12th to the 16th century in Europe,” it says.

And if you do visit then look out for the 12th and 19th-century stained glass windows.

The abbey church became a cathedral in 1966 and is the seat of the Bishop of Saint-Denis. There are controversial plans to rebuild the 86-metre (282-foot) tall spire, which had to be dismantled in the 19th century.

The project, initiated more than 30 years ago, was to have begun in May 2020 and could cost up to €30 million – if it goes ahead.

It’s not the only cultural site in the town, there’s also the Cité de Cinema and the Museum of Art and History and much more.

There’s a lot more info about the Basilica here.

Population

According to the last census in 2018, Saint-Denis is home to around 112,000 inhabitants. The locals in Saint-Denis are called Dionysiennes (female) or Dionysien (male).

The town is the biggest of 40 communes that make up the département of Seine-Saint-Denis, which is often just known by locals by its number: 93.

It’s one of France’s mostly densely populated areas and is home to a high population of residents with immigrant backgrounds.

It’s a solid left-wing town

Given it’s a solid working-class town in a solid working-class, immigrant département it’s no surprise perhaps that locals vote for left-wing parties (and not the far-right).

Saint-Denis has a socialist mayor Mathieu Hanotin and in the first round of the presidential election in April 2022 some 61 percent of voters opted for far left Jean-Luc Melenchon whilst only 8 percent voted for far right Marine Le Pen.

In the second round centrist Emmanuel Macron won 79 percent of the vote and Le Pen 21 percent – a far bigger margin of victory for the president than the overall national score of 58.5 percent to 41.5 percent.

Olympic party

The town of Saint-Denis will play a key role for the 2024 Olympics. For a start the headquarters of the organising team is already based there at the Pulse building.

An aerial picture taken aboard an helicopter on July 20, 2010 shows a view of the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, outside Paris. AFP PHOTO BORIS HORVAT (Photo by BORIS HORVAT / AFP)

The town will also be home to one of two aquatic centres for the Olympics, the athletes’ village and of course the athletics will be at the Stade de France – the national stadium where the country’s football and rugby teams play.

This photograph shows the construction of the future olympic village at the “UniverSeine” district, in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, during an interdepartmental committee for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games on November 15, 2021. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)

As part of the bid, officials were keen to stress that the aquatic venue will be handed over to the public at the end of the games so local residents can make the most of it. Hundreds of other small sporting venues are planned to be built in Saint-Denis and other surrounding towns.

The arrival of the Games will also lead to improvements in public transport links as well as renovations and upgrades to much of Saint-Denis. It is hoped the construction of venues and the hosting of the Games will also help create thousands of jobs in the area and give a huge boost to the local economy.

The Saint-Denis canal

Saint Denis is also home to the Saint-Denis canal, which runs past the Stade de France stadium. It was built on Napoleon’s orders in the early 19th century.

It links the Seine River to the Canal de L’Ourq which then joins the Seine River again at the Bassin de L’Arsenal and was ordered to be built by Napoleon to allow river traffic to avoid having to pass through central Paris.

The tow path along the canal has been made into a cycle route and footpath that helps cyclists get from Saint-Denis to central Paris without having to navigate the main roads.

A river shuttle “Le Millenaire” prepares to dock at the Saint-Denis canal, on December 10, 2012, in Paris. At left a T3b tramway operates on a test run. AFP PHOTO JACQUES DEMARTHON (Photo by JACQUES DEMARTHON / AFP)

And he’s a map of where it is in relation to central Paris and how to get there:

For more information about Saint-Denis and to find oput more reasons to visit you can visit this website which is in English.

SHOW COMMENTS