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11 places to visit and festivals to enjoy in France this Spring

The Local France
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11 places to visit and festivals to enjoy in France this Spring
The gardens at Giverny re-open to the public in April. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

The days are getting longer and the temperatures are starting to rise, so we've got some ideas for places to visit and things to do in France this spring.


Poetry, culture, art, music, food, wine and some lovely places to visit. There’s something for everyone as France wakes up from winter, and gears up for another busy summer.


Banlieues Bleues - March 24th – April 21st

Miles Davis, Miriam Makeba, Nina Simone, Chuck Berry and John Zorn are among the jazz and blues greats to have played the Banlieues Bleues festival in the past.


Now in its 40th year, this annual event is a series of concerts running over several weeks in the Paris suburbs of Seine-Saint-Denis.

Foire au Jambon - April 6th - 9th

Bayonne is more famous for its grand annual festival in July, which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors. But the earlier-in-the-year Foire au Jambon is centuries older.

The Fêtes de Bayonne was founded in 1932 - the Foire au Jambon in 1462. It celebrates every stage of the creation of the famous hams that proudly bear the Basque town’s name. There’s even an omelette and ham competition…

Festival international du cerf-volant et du vent - April 8th - 10th

Châtelaillon-Plage in the south-west département of Charente-Maritimes is a windswept delight of a beach and every year it hosts a kite and wind festival for three days every April. There’s big kites, little kites, competition kites, fighting kites. Plus, kite surfing and kite-building workshops. Basically, kites plus wind plus sand plus sea equals a whole lotta fun.

Printemps de Bourges - April 18th - 23rd

You know summer’s well and truly on the way when the outdoor music festivals start popping up on the agenda.

Enter the annual, eclectic Printemps de Bourges in the central French town of Bourges, which this year features Bob Sinclair, Jeanne Added, Benjamin Biolay, Izia - and numerous others.

Journées Romaines - May 4th - 8th

If you head down to Nîmes in early May, you may think you’ve also travelled back in time roughly 2,000 years as the town's famous Roman amphitheatre hosts its annual high-octane historical renactment events.

This year, visitors will experience the greatest battles of the Gallic Wars which pitted Gallic leader Vercingetorix against Julius Caesar. 

Nuit des Musées - May 13th

At the time of publication, France’s Ministry of Culture was still busy collating information on which French museums across are taking part in this year’s Europe-wide Night at the Museum extravaganza. Expect, however, temporary exhibitions, themed guided visits, musical entertainment, lectures, concerts, food tasting, historical reconstructions and re-enactments, and film projections. Check out the website nearer the time for full details. 


Cannes International Film Festival - May 16th - 27th

The 76th film festival opens in the glamorous resort on the south coast of France in mid-May. It is, of course, all about the movies - Swedish director Ruben Östlund heads the jury this year - but it’s also about the glamour … and the star spotting.

And  a few places to visit

But you don't need to wait for a festival to make a trip, France has a few destinations that are particularly special in the spring.


No one needs an excuse to visit the art-inspiring village of Giverny, Normandy, where father of impressionism Claude Monet lived and painted his glorious works of art for 43 years. The gardens open to visitors from April 1st, so you can wander through the beautiful gardens and maybe you'll be inspired to create your own masterpieces? Booking in advance is highly recommended, even out of the peak season. 

Western isles

The three islands off France's west coast - Île de Ré, Île d'Oléron and Île de Noirmoutier - are very popular with French tourists in the summer months, but they're also great to visit in spring. Slightly less busy, you'll still find places of places open to sample the islands' famous seafood and wines, or take a walk or cycle around the coast. All three are accessible by car via bridges or causeways from the mainland.

3 of our favourite French islands



The south-west France historic city is a UNESCO world heritage site and can get very busy in the summer, so why not visit in the spring? Fewer people about means more space in those beautiful winding medieval streets but you'll still find plenty of bars and restaurants open. The area's culinary speciality - cassoulet - is best sampled in the cooler temperatures, which is another reason to go now.


In the spring the famous gardens of the former royal chateau are bursting into life, while the palace itself holds a series of cultural events which this spring include performances of the ballet Swan Lake and Purcell opera. From April 1st the musical garden events and 'music and water' performances take place outdoor. Full programme here



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