IT MIGHT have been a muted start to the New Year, but France has plenty of events ahead to make 2016 a memorable year - from annual events like Fête de la musique and the Nuit Européenne des Musées to one-offs like hosting Euro 2016
Traversée de Paris, January 10
About 700 classic vehicles join the Paris traffic to drive 20km across the city from Château de Vincennes in the east to the Observatoire de Meudon in the south-west. All, such as this Jaguar XK140, are more than 30 years old. For €5 you can ride on one of the old buses.
International Circus Festival, Monaco, January 14-24
It was created by Prince Rainier III in 1974 and is billed as the most important circus festival in the world which awards the equivalent of the Oscars, the much coveted Clown d’Or. There are one or two shows nearly every day featuring prize-winning acts. Prices from €30.
Festival International du Film Fantastique, Gérardmer, Vosges, January 27-31
This is an international festival of horror and science fiction films which has been held in Gérardmer every year since 1994. As well as the films there are workshops, art exhibitions, conferences and activities for children. Tickets can be bought on the night or online, with special passes available.
Le Secret de l’Etat. Surveiller, Protéger, Informer, Archives Nationales, Paris, until February 28
James Bond-type gadgets are on show in this exhibition tracing the history of French information-gathering up to the 20th century. There is a coded book used to protect Henri III’s secrets in the 16th century, a microphone hidden in a matchbox and a 1960 watch with spy camera. Entry €6, Monday to Friday 10.00-17.30, weekend 14.00-17.30.
February 21 marks the centenary of the Battle of Verdun, which lasted until December 18, 1916, and was fought on the Western Front between the French and Germans and was one of the longest battles in history.
International Festival of the Art of Pyrotechnics, Courchevel, Savoie, February 11- March 3
A unique festival with five big firework shows created by pyrotechnic masters from all over the world. Each show is preceded by a procession of ski-monitors who ski down the slopes with flaming torches.
Taste of Paris, Grand Palais, Paris, February 11-14
Michelin stars abound as 18 top chefs offer lunch and dinner in pop-up restaurants with bite-sized dishes ranging from €5 to €12 each. Gastronomy is to the fore with features on some of France’s finest produce – including tastings of produce and fine wines.
Fête du Citron, Menton, Alpes-Maritimes, February 13-March 2
145 tonnes of citrus fruit are used in this unique event. There are sculptures made out of oranges and lemons, night time and day time parades of floats, an orchid festival and arts and crafts show.
Paris Book Fair, Porte de Versailles, Paris, March 17-20
1,200 publishers and authors from France and the world are present with around 500 stands and several events. This year features literature from Brazil.
International Cheese and Wine Fair, Coulommiers, March 18-21
About 350 exhibitors and craftspeople are expected at the 49th annual cheese and wine fair. .
Printemps du Cinéma Festival, throughout France, March 20-22
Every spring the Fédération des Cinémas Français offers reduced prices at more than 5,000 cinemas across the country at €4 a seat.
Paris Marathon, April 3
One of the world’s biggest marathon events with 50,000 runners from 140 different countries. It covers many of Paris’s landmarks starting at the Arc de Triomphe, down the Champs Elysées and through the Bois de Vincennes and the Bois de Boulogne before the finish at Avenue Foch.
Normandy Impressionist Festival, April 16 - September 26
A chance to see some 450 projects around the region inspired by Impressionist art. There will be Impressionist masterpieces on display, as well as new works in the style, plus celebrations of the movement through other mediums like dance and theatre.
Paris Formula E Grand Prix
The capital will host the electric Grand Prix for the first time. Cars will compete on a circuit around the hôtel des Invalides on April 23. Formula E began in September 2014 and made its European debut in Monaco last May.
Nuit Européenne des Musées, throughout France, May 21
More than 1,000 museums open their doors to the public until the early hours with events and free entrance.
Euro 2016 football tournament, around France, June 10-July 10
France will play Romania at the Stade de France in the opening match of the tournament, which will be played out at 10 venues across the country. England’s first match will be against Russia on June 11 in Marseille. Some 2.5 million supporters from across Europe are expected to converge on France for a month.
Fête de la musique, June 21
Concerts in parks, car parks, street corners in towns and cities around France in this annual celebration of music. fetedelamusique.culturecommunication.gouv.fr
July 1 sees the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. The British army suffered its worst ever casualties on the first day of the Battle of the Somme – 57,470. It ended on November 18.
Tour de France, July 2-24
Normandy and the Mont Saint-Michel will host the start of the 2016 Tour de France in the first home start since 2011. The first stage on July 2 will end at the D-Day landing site of Utah Beach, passing through Sainte-Mère-Eglise. Stage 2, on the following day, runs from Saint-Lô to Cherbourg and stage 3 (July 4) will head off from seaside resort Granville. The week prior to the big day will see festivities take place throughout the Manche department of Normandy.
Festival Interceltique de Lorien, Morbihan, August 5-14
Festival dedicated to celtic culture. As well as concerts there is a grand procession, opportunities to play and watch celtic sports, dance classes, art exhibitions and conferences.
Feria de Dax, Landes, August 11-15
This is one of the biggest festivals in the South West when thousands of people come to the town to party. Bull fighting in the arena is central but there are also processions, music, dancing, feasting and sport.
British Film Festival, Dinard, Ille-et-Vilaine, September 28-October 2
Several dozen British films will be shown at this festival which acts as a European showcase for what organisers describe as an “eclectic, vibrant, modern British film industry”. It prides itself on having previewed and awarded The Full Monty, Billy Elliot and Girl with a Pearl Earring in its competition.
Journées européennes du patrimoine, September 17-18
A weekend to see inside some of France’s grandest buildings, some of which remain closed for the rest of the year. Special tours and free events across the country.
Fête de la Science, all France, October 7-11
Workshops, visits to laboratories, conferences and competitions are organised to encourage the public to find out more about science.
La Semaine du Goût, all France, October 10-16
An event where the public is invited to explore the sense of taste by attending events hosted by professionals and enthusiasts in the food industry. Most are free.
Salon du Chocolat, Paris, October 28-Nov 1
This is the world’s largest event dedicated to chocolate and cocoa. Chocolatiers, pastry makers, confectioners, chefs and cocoa experts will treat visitors with recipes, demos and even fashion made out of chocolate.
Orchestres en Fête, throughout France, November 18-20
Oorchestras around the country take part in events designed to introduce the public to orchestral music.
Salon du Cheval, Paris, November 26-December 4
Billed as France’s greatest equestrian event, there is everything to appeal to horse lovers with 450 exhibitors, six arenas, 2,000 horses and a Kids’ Village with ponies for a ride.
Fête des Grands Vins de Bourgogne, Beaune, Côte d’Or, November 18-20
More than 3,000 different wines from the Burgundy region with Chablis, Beaujolais and the Grands Crus of the Côte d’Or can be tasted at the Palais des Congrès de Beaune. It coincides with the famous Christie’s charity wine auction at the Hospices de Beaune.
Monte-Carlo Jazz Festival, Monaco
Some of the greatest jazz musicians will be performing at the Opera Garnier as well as fresh young talents.
Téléthon, throughout France, 3-4 December
Nearly €100million is raised each year to help families affected by genetic, rare, progressive and severely disabling illnesses and to fund vital research. Some 200,000 volunteers take part annually with fundraising events all over the country and 30 hours of non-stop television coverage.
Fête des Lumières, Lyon, Rhône-Alpes, December 8-11
For four nights about 100 artists light up buildings, streets, squares and parks all over the city.
Connexion works with local tourist offices for the information printed. Due to the possibility of changes to programmes and event timing we recommend you check with individual organisers before making a trip.