STORMS wrecked plans to mark the start of summer with the Fête de la Musique as many venues were washed out and battered by hail and violent winds.
The northern half of the country was hit hard with 32 departments put on orange alert by Météo France.
The heavy storms between 15.00 and 22.00 forced the cancellation of events from Brittany across to Alsace.
Outdoors events were cancelled from Quimper, Lorient and Vannes to Abbeville, Douai and Reims then Strasbourg, Mulhouse, Colmar, Nancy, Belfort and as far south as Bourg-en-Bresse, north of Lyon.
The mairies in Strasbourg and Mulhouse cancelled all events after a call by the prefects of Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin.
It is the first time Strasbourg has cancelled the Fête de la Musique but memories are still fresh in the mairie of the 2001 tragedy when a tree fell on a group of spectators, killing 13 and injuring more than a hundred.
Elsewhere, many towns also ordered that all tents and marquees be taken down.
Events in Paris started under a heavy sky but the evening cleared and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault took time off to join the crowds outside the Matignon palace listening to Nantes group Pony Pony Run Run.