What’s on in France - October 2019
Our pick of what to do, where to go and what to see in France. This month: mushroom season is back, so are chestnuts, shrimps or apple festivals. And a lot more of course...
Les Toqués du Cèpe, Mende, October 4 - 6
Les Toqués du Cèpe is not merely a clever play on words – toqué means ‘crazy’ and it can also refer to a chef who wears a toque (chef’s hat) – but it is also a big event to celebrate mushrooms and food in Mende, Lozère.
On the first weekend of October this unique festival brings together all of those who love mushrooms, be they chefs or curious and hungry visitors.
The picking and tasting of nature’s autumnal bounty, as well as a competition for the best mushroom pie, are just a few of the things on offer.
There is also a mushroom market, exhibitions on the theme of mushrooms, cookery workshops, various demonstrations such as basketry and distillation, plus themed menus in the local restaurants and concerts.
While putting mushrooms in the spotlight, the town also celebrates nature and bees, with several tours and conferences related to this secondary theme.
The event is free but some activities may require a fee.
La Grande Réderie d’Amiens, Somme, October 6
This big-scale flea market is a must-see if you like to hunt for a bargain, as around 2,000 stall-holders come from far and wide to offer their antiques.
Each year the market attracts a whopping 80,000 visitors and if you would like to set up your own stall it is important to reserve a place.
The réderie is comprised of 15km worth of stalls and takes place in central Amiens – enjoy local breweries and restaurants once you have finished snaffling up vintage bargains.
Jazz Entre les Deux Tours, La Rochelle, October 2 - 5
This major jazz event consists of a gathering of regional, national and international musicians, with around a hundred of them playing in a dozen concert venues over four days.
The festival features traditional concerts but also ‘dinner ‘concerts as well as educational activities, an eclectic range of conferences and photography exhibitions.
Festival de Lanvellec et du Trégor, Côtes-d’Armor, October 4 - 20
This Breton music festival was started in 1986 to showcase the miraculously preserved baroque organ of Lanvellec, which was made in 1653 by Robert Dallam.
It is the only 17th century English pipe organ that exists in its original state.
Over three weekends in, October public concerts are held alongside lectures and meetings with the musicians, so that you can discover more about the historical pieces of music and their composers.
Musica Festival, Strasbourg, until October 5
Created in 1982, Musica festival is one of the most important European festivals dedicated to the creation of music, with around 40 concerts taking place in Strasbourg and its surroundings.
It aims to create a dialogue between artists of today’s generation and the most significant musical works of contemporary repertoires.
Up to 17,000 people attend the festival each year, whilst the work of 3,400 artists and composers is showcased.
Fête de la Crevette, Honfleur, Calvados, October 5 - 6
If you like seafood, and prawns in particular, this foodie festival in Normandy is ideal place to visit this autumn.
You can taste the famous prawns of Honfleur whilst strolling back in time along the quay of the Vieux Bassin, which is lined with houses dating back to the 16th century.
If you like the sea but not seafood, watching one of the concerts or listening to the performances of sea shanties might float your boat.
The festival also offers sea-themed activities for children, such as a pirate village, arts and crafts and competitions.
Foire de la Châtaigne, Mourjou en Châtaigneraie, October 19 - 20
Two tons of roasted chestnuts and 5,000 litres of cider await at this celebration of all things châtaigne in Cantal, Auvergne.
The fair is organised around a chestnut market that brings together more than 80 exhibitors from all over the world, as well as a varied programme of events such as demonstrations, tasting sessions, street music, concerts, organised hikes and shows and games for children.
Lacloche Joailliers exhibition, Paris, October 23 - December 20
For the first time ever, an exhibition celebrates the work of the jewellery brand Lacloche Frères, which became a leading light in Europe from 1892-1967.
Based in Paris, the brand was also present in Nice, Cannes, London and Madrid.
La maison Lacloche worked with the aristocracy and Hollywood celebrities, including the Spanish Queen Victoria, King Edward VII and Grace Kelly.
For this exhibition, held at Paris’s jewellery arts school, beauty accessories, jewels, pendulums and archive documents have been put on display to highlight the international success of the brand.
Leonardo da Vinci exhibition, Paris, October 24 - February 24, 2020
This year marks the 500-year anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci and, as the Louvre holds the largest collection of da Vinci paintings in the world, the museum is hosting an exhibition around the five key works they currently possess: The Virgin of the Rocks, La Belle Ferronnière, the Mona Lisa, Saint John the Baptist and Madonna and Saint Anne.
The exhibition is the result of more than ten years of work, with processes such as new scientific testing of his paintings, extensive re-examinations of archival documents and conservation treatments having been carried out.
Tickets must be booked in advance.
Fête de la Pomme, Trévières, Calvados, October 27
This Normandy apple festival flaunts the multitude of sumptuous apple varieties that can be found in the area.
As well as fine displays of the pommes in question, you can also enjoy talks on subjects such as the manufacture of apple juice and cider, as well as the making of old-fashioned butter in a churn.
An apple-themed lunch, naturally, is served in the town square, with a huge range of apple desserts offered. There is also a competition to see who can bake the best apple pie.
La Fête du Piment, Espelette, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, October 26 - 27
This chilli pepper festival began in 1968 in order to celebrate the end of the harvest of the famous Espelette chilli pepper.
Going stronger than ever, the festival now attracts over 20,000 visitors a year and features exhibitions, markets, parades, concerts and a church ceremony in which the chillies are blessed.
Entrance to the fair is free but some activities may require a fee.
Oktoberfest, Marseille, October 26 - November 2
Oktoberfest originated in 1810 as a celebration of the marriage between Louis I of Bavaria and Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen.
A horse race was organised and it became so popular that it was held again each year at the same time and place, gradually becoming an immense carnival where the beer flowed freely.
Oktoberfest in Marseille is the perfect place to experience a mix of French and German culture, as the festival celebrates French beer and traditional cuisine, whilst simultaneously upholding the traditional German roots of the festival.
Competitions to see who can lift the most tankards of beer and who performs the best Cancan are among of the quirkier events you can expect to witness.
Fête du Gâteau Basque, Cambo-les-Bains, October 5 - 6
This popular festival, which celebrates the culinary arts of the Basque Country and in particular the Basque cake, attracts 17,000 visitors a year.
The cake has an historical link with the spa town of Cambo-les-Bains and so the town decided to throw a big party on the first Sunday of October every year in order to honour it.
In a workshop you can learn how to make the famous sweet treat, speak to the pastry chefs to learn about their skills and take your cake home, as well as your own chef’s hat and apron.
You can also enjoy performances of Basque dancing and music or explore the market of Basque Country products; for children, meanwhile, there are craft workshops and a carousel.
Entrance to the festival is free but certain activities may require a small entry fee.
Fête des Louches, Comines, Nord, October 12 - 14
La fête historique des louches (historic festival of ladles), one of the more outlandish French festivals, has been held on the second Sunday of October at Comines, Nord, since 1884.
It derives from a legend that a lord was locked inside a tower in his castle by thieves and he escaped after attracting attention by throwing out a silver ladle bearing his family coat of arms.
On Saturday, there is a medieval market and lots of activities in the jardin public until 21.00.
Meanwhile, a fair also takes place in another part of the town, Rue du château.
The celebrations officially start in the evening, after a handing over of the town’s keys and a balloon release.
The main event is a medieval parade on Sunday afternoon during which participants throw wooden ladles from the cortege into the crowd.
More ladles are then chucked off the balcony of the town hall.
There are also concerts, markets, a bicycle race and a carnival to get involved with during the course of the weekend.
As well as the town’s abundant restaurants, visitors can also to tuck into local produce at catering trucks all around town.
The festival’s theme this year is crafts and industry, as a reminder that the town is also well known for its textiles and notably for its ribbons since the Middle Age.
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.
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France