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What’s on in France - August 2019

Our pick of what to do, where to go and what to see in France. This month, a perfect time to sing in Brittany, a fruity festival in Lorraine, a firework festival in Cannes and much more

Sea Shanty Festival, Paimpol, August 2 - 4

More than a simple summer event, the Festival du Chant de Marin held in Paimpol is a celebration of Brittany’s seafaring heritage.

Since 1997, the festival has taken place every two years and hosts different events around the small town’s famous port.

Boats, music, parades, and a traditional market bring around 150,000 professionals and thousands of visitors each time.

Concerts take place in the streets and on the boats themselves as singers from around the world come to perform traditional songs.

For this 30th outing for the festival, the organisers have prepared a ‘best-of’ with singers from Africa, America, the UK and many other countries to give the best shows possible – some 160 acts will be performing.

Around 200 boats and their crews will be part of the festivities.


Puppet festival, Mirepoix, August 1 - 4

The international puppet festival of Mirepoix, Ariège, was one of the first events dedicated to puppets when it started in 1989.

Organisers were keen to show that puppets are not just for children and that puppetry is a true art form.

The festival is particularly open to international visitors as some shows will be in English.

And alongside the shows, every night is a party – there will be concerts and DJ sets in the town centre as well as a market with 70 artisans and food trucks during the day.


Font’Arts, Pernes-Les-Fontaines, Vaucluse, August 2 - 4

Since 1996, the first weekend of August in Pernes-Les-Fontaines, has been dedicated to street performances, from dance to drama and art installations.

There are also circus acts, magic shows and various activities for children.  

Professional artists share their experiences with young and local talents who have the opportunity to showcase their work throughout the festival.

The event – which is totally free – hosts 15,000 to 20,000 people every year.


Lavender parade, Digne-les-Bains, August 2 - 6

Digne-les-Bains in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence is known for its lavender fields so each year, the town celebrates the culture of lavender with parades, music, a fair and fireworks all part of the eclectic programme of pale purpleness!

  Thousands of lavender bouquets will be given away to visitors, who come from all around France and beyond, while every night, residents and tourists are invited to get involved in a public dance.

A highlight is on the Monday night, when all the illuminated floats parade through town for over two hours.


International Interceltic festival of Lorient, Morbihan, August 2 - 11

This year, the huge celebration of all things Celtic focuses on Galicia and its capital Santiago de Compostela, although Lorient’s own heritage still is at the forefront throughout the event.

There will be many activities, concerts, and games as well as sporting contests while different cultures are explored – you can enjoy Irish dancing, for example.

The event is a great moment to dig deep into the Celtic culture, enjoy some music and have a traditional crêpe bretonne.


International festival of Liars, Moncrabeau, August 4

Here is the truth: it is a big tradition in this Lot-et-Garonne village to celebrate liars on the first Sunday of August.

On this special day a new ‘King Liar’ is chosen, for Moncrabeau is the self-proclaimed ‘World Capital of Liars’!

The participants are chosen by the Academy of Liars, which organises the event.

They come not only from France but also sometimes from Germany, Belgium, Spain and the US.

Usually about a dozen ‘tell their’ tall tales and yarns and the story which seems the truest wins the contest.


World’s Culture festival, Montoire-sur-le-Loir, Loir-et-Cher, August 13 - 18

Montoire folklore festival is an international gathering where everyone is invited to discover the culture of other countries through different activities.

Of course, traditional dance shows are the first thing to attract visitors.

However, professionals from the five continents come to Montoire to perform, exhibit their artwork, meet and cook dishes.

On August 15, the public can enjoy live musical shows in the streets and the day ends with a parade.


Filets Bleus festival, Concarneau, August 14 - 18

Concarneau in Finistère is a small Breton town where fishing and the culture of the sardine have always been important.

This festival held in its honour is one of the oldest in the region and celebrates the town’s fish canning traditions.

It was originally created to help fishermen, as the year 1904 was particularly bad for them.

Over time, the town not only got funding thanks to the festival but also fame – which has seen the event become more and more important.

Although the festival has evolved, it is still essentially a cultural event, so visitors can expect various activities at sea, as well as art exhibitions, parades and traditional street performances in costume.


Mirabelle festival, Metz, August 17 - 25

The golden Mirabelle plum is an essential part of the gastronomic heritage of Metz and the wider region of Lorraine (which is now part of Grand Est).

Every year, the city celebrates the fruit and agricultural heritage of the region through a range of festivities which sees farmers, producers and residents alike coming together to enjoy concerts, parades and a traditional market.

The ‘Mirabelle village’ is created for the event on place d’Armes-J-F Blondel and offers various activities each day.  

There are key moments not to miss during the week, notably on August 18 when the ‘Mirabelle Queen’ will be elected.

Also for 2019, the city celebrates Unesco’s ‘creative cities’ – it is hoping to become the fifth one in France.


World Square Bowling Championships, Cagnes-sur-Mer, August 24 - 25

You may already know about pétanque but in Cagnes, next to Nice, people went further and created a whole new game – well, perhaps not that different as the rules remain the same.

But the balls are now square... and much lighter since they are colourful wooden cubes.

The idea came about after players realised using the original boules de pétanque was hardly practical in a hilltop village with steeply sloping streets.

It is now a well-known game closely linked to the name Cagnes-sur-Mer and the Championnat du monde de boules carrées has been held since 1980, attracting 300 players each time.


Lille braderie, Nord, August 31 – September 1

This is one of the biggest flea markets in Europe, bringing ten thousand sellers to display their secondhand wares along the historic city’s streets.   

Antiques, furniture, clothes, accessories – you can find just about everything. But early birds, of course, get the best deals!

One of the main traditions associated with the Lille braderie is to eat mussels and fries.

As part of a fun challenge, restaurants usually put all the empty shells outside their doors to see which one has the most by the end of the event.


Firework festival, Cannes, until August 24

You may have missed the first fireworks in July but it is still not too late for these ones.

Every year, the firework festival in Cannes hosts an international contest where different countries lay on an illuminated performance.

In August, three countries – Sweden, the United States, and France – compete with three other countries – Italy, Germany and Austria – which have already shown their fireworks in July.

Every year 100,000 visitors come to enjoy the show while sitting on the beach at Cannes, or from the terrace of a restaurant.

The first firework display takes please on August 7, and subsequent ones on August 15 and 24.

The public is then invited to vote for their favourite show on the festival website.


Travel in Nantes festival, Nantes, until September 1

Nantes festival takes over the city for the whole summer to lend some cultural vibrancy and make arts accessible to everyone.

This year the pieces of art are said to ‘invade’ the city.

From paintings and street performances to sculptures, there are many original pieces to see just by walking around.

Then several museums such as Jules Verne or the art museum offer new exhibitions.

Other cultural places such as la Chapelle de l’Oratoire, the School of Arts and the library also exhibit some artworks.

A few artists have also worked on the green spaces found around the city and created new installations especially for the festival.

If you are in Nantes, make sure not to miss the ‘human clock’ in the city centre.

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