What to do, where to go and what to see in France
What to do, where to go and what to see in France
Josselin Medieval Festival, July 14
The small and perfectly formed Breton town of Josselin (Morbihan) is perfectly set up for a medieval festival, with its castle (still lived in by members of the legendary Rohan family) and half-timbered houses providing an authentic olde-world backdrop for some dressing-up antics and historically accurate role-play.
There is something to tickle the armour of all family members, from parades and jousting to archery and bird shows. There are also horsemen, fencers, troubadours, jugglers and acrobats and more to entertain.
First-timers should head to the Gothic Basilica Notre Dame du Roncier – climb up to the top of the bell tower for panoramic views over the area.
Linen Festival, July 6-8
Renamed for 2018 as the Festival of Linen and Artistic Fibre, this homage to all things linen sees over 30 sites across Normandy (centred round Le Bourg-Dun) put on displays, fashion shows, factory visits and other events. For just €10 visitors can get a weekend pass.
Download a PDF containing details of all events for this 37th running of the festival from the website.
Tour de France, July 7-29
One of the most famous sporting events in the world was first held in 1903. Now it features the world’s best cyclists in a three-week race and more than 10million spectators behind the barriers watching the race.
This year it sets off from the island of Noirmoutier in Vendée and takes in locations such as Quimper, Chartres and Carcassonne. (See our culinary Tour de France on page 14.)
Pyrotechnic arts festival, Cannes, throughout July and August
Watch firework magicians work wonders with a series of choreographed spectacles at 10pm in the bay of Cannes. Creativity, technology and high precision combine for an audio-visual feast.
Shows on the 400-metre waterfront, are enjoyed by 200,000 spectators every evening, massed all along the Croisette. Taking place on July 14,21,29 and August 7,15 and 24. Get there early, not only for a parking spot but to get a good view.
Festival d’Avignon, July 6-24
The historic Vaucluse city’s streets and buildings are transformed into sets and stages, as an estimated 130,000 people enjoy all kind of performances – from comedy and theatre to contemporary art shows. Strongly recommended to all performing arts lovers, this is one of France’s most enjoyable and eclectic festivals.
Francofolies, La Rochelle, July 11-15
Among France’s best loved rock, pop and chanson festivals, Francofolies has been going since 1985, with new artists always among the priority bookings.
With the stunning port and its towers as a backdrop, the location could not be more spectacular, while the line up each year is always top-notch. Among the performers in 2018 will be Véronique Sanson and Charlotte Gainsbourg.
Days of the Rose, Doué la Fontaine, Maine-et-Loire, July 13-16
Doué la Fontaine is a hotbed of rose growing – some seven million blooms are cultivated here each year and since 1959, local rose gardeners have organised a presentation of their floral triumphs in a troglodyte underground gallery next to the town’ ancient stone arena. The shiny rocks make a perfect backdrop to showcase the beautifully presented blooms.
Bastille Day, nationwide, July 14
The French national holiday is celebrated in style across the country. Formal, official festivities take place in Paris, with a military parade from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde – passing through the Champs-Elysées.
Fireworks will also light up the night sky in most towns and cities, and there will be concerts and celebrations. The day after Bastille Day the World Cup final takes place – will France be playing?
Nice Jazz Festival, July 16-21
Nice is one of the oldest jazz festivals in Europe (this year marks its 70th anniversary), and has become one of the most important international cultural events on the Côte d’Azur.
The festival features a range of well-known artists from jazz and other genres, this year including Aloe Blacc, Kyle Eastwood Quintet, Jack Johnson, Gregory Porter and Massive Attack.
Rodin and Dance, Paris until July 22
A last chance to see one of the hit art shows of the year at the Musée Rodin in Paris. The sculptor’s fascination with dance was borne out by his encounters with leading dancers of the time, such as Isadora Duncan, Loïe Fuller, and the dancers of the Cambodian royal ballet.
Looking at Rodin’s research and experimentation into the subject, the exhibition examines the links between the artists and brings together more than 50 works of the artistic body frozen in time.
The Rose Empire, Lens, until July 23
With scenography designed by Christian Lacroix, the Louvre-Lens Museum presents the very first retrospective in continental Europe dedicated to the magnificent art of the Qajar dynasty, the glorious sovereigns who ruled Iran from 1786 to 1925. This overview brings together paintings, drawings, jewellery, enamels, photographs and ceremonial weapons.
Les Nuits de Fourvière, Lyon, until July 28
Since 1946, Les Nuits de Fourvière has been bringing together the disciplines of theatre, music, dance, opera, circus and cinema every summer, and this year will see 60 performances in the spectacular Gallo-Roman theatres of Fourvière.
Rencontres d’Arles, until September 24
The charming Bouches-du-Rhône city comes alive with photography as more than 60 exhibitions spring up. The works of art are created by home-grown and international artists, with both classic and up-and-coming, contemporary snappers’ works on display.
Diego Giacometti at Musée Picasso, until November 3
The exhibition Diego Giacometti at the Picasso Museum is an opportunity to explore the genesis of the commission given to the Swiss sculptor – younger brother of the better known Alberto Giacometti – for the inauguration of the Picasso National Museum in 1985. The 50 collected pieces, composed of chairs, benches, lights and tables, were created exclusively for the Hotel Salé, a fine building to visit in its own right.
Painting the races, Domaine de Chantilly, until October 14
One for horse lovers! Domaine de Chantilly will host its first exhibition devoted to the birth and the development of horse racing art. Some 70 artworks (paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs and films) will illustrate the way the sport was used as a barometer of modernity, in both England and France, from the late 18th to the late 19th century.
The exhibition revolves around three major artists: George Stubbs, Théodore Géricault, and Edgar Degas.
Equestria horse festival, July 24–29
In keeping with its long-standing equestrian traditions (the national stud here was created by Napoleon in 1806), the city of Tarbes, Hautes-Pyrénées, lays on its annual festival for horse lovers.
The originality of Equestria lies in the fact that it is not merely a horse show but a friendly, family festival, dedicated to equestrian art in all its forms.
More than 300 horses and nearly 500 equestrian and artistic performers rub shoulders during the day in the festival ‘village’, where visitors can browse and buy horse riding equipment, saddlery, arts and crafts, jewellery and equestrian gifts.
Every evening the gala La Nuit des Créations brings a new meaning the word horseplay, as the world’s leading equestrian performers put on dazzling displays of man and beast in perfect harmony.
La Roque-D’Anthéron Piano festival, until August 18
As settings for piano concerts go, the foliage-shrouded stage at Château de Florans in La Roque-d’Anthéron, Bouches-du-Rhône, is among the most eye-catching in France... and the acoustics are great, too.
Set in the heart of the grounds, surrounded by 365 plane trees and centuries-old sequoias, the clearing is transformed into an oasis where summer evenings come alive for the international piano festival – now in its 38th year.
The eclectic roster of music includes classical, contemporary, jazz and electronic and all types of artists, with emerging talents performing alongside the greatest international piano players.
There are a series of free concerts in the village, notably four on August 15.
The Connexion works with local tourist offices for the information on this page. Due to possible last-minute changes to programmes and event timing we recommend that you always check with individual organisers before making a trip.