What’s on in France - September 2019

Our pick of what to do, where to go and what to see in France. This month, starry nights, prunes, rice, choucroute and American cinema festivals, art at the abbey, motorbike racing and more…

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Van Gogh, La nuit étoilée, Baux-de-Provence, until January 5

Around 500 works by Vincent Van Gogh have been chosen to give life to the walls at a former quarry in Baux-de-Provence, Bouches-du-Rhône.

The best known paintings, as well as some less familiar, by the Dutch artist are projected onto 16metre-high walls.

The exhibition aims to show the unique universe of the artist, the evolution of his life, from the Netherlands to Provence and Paris. The Starry Night, Sunflowers, and Bedroom in Arles form part of the exhibition while in a separate area a display of Japanese art can be seen (Van Gogh was passionate about prints from Japan).

The exhibitions pay homage to the painter – who famously had difficulties selling his paintings while still alive and suffered from mental illness before killing himself in 1890, aged 37 – by playing with light and darkness.


Feria du riz, Arles, September 7 - 8

The rice feria is a tradition in Arles, Bouches-du-Rhône, which celebrates the Camargue rice harvest.

The town’s main Easter feria might attract some 500,000 visitors but this event is just as eagerly anticipated – for residents and tourists alike, it is a time to join friends and family to enjoy a nice paella and a glass of wine, while various festivities take place around the city.

As well as the famous corridas in the Roman arena, there are also concerts and shows in the ancient streets, as well as a food market where local producers promote regional goodies.


Grand Pruneau Show, Agen, August 31 - September 1

This free festival celebrates the famous Agen prune over three days via a tasty blend of gastronomy, arts and music.

There are street parades with musical groups playing while a market offers the opportunity to try prunes and other specialties from the Lot-et-Garonne.

At the food market, visitors can participate in different workshops and watch cooking demonstrations.

On the last night of the festival, the singer Alain Chamfort, who collaborated with singers Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, will perform.


Colmar Jazz Festival, Haut-Rhin, September 1 - 23

This year, Colmar wants to attract a broader public with its jazz festival, thus organisers are offering more activities and special shows for both younger and older guests. In the town centre, there will be musical parades and exhibitions.

Artists such as Youssef Daoudi, Thomas Dutronc (jazz manouche guitarist and son of Jacques Dutronc and Françoise Hardy) and Laurent de Wilde will be performing, while there will be several ‘apéro jazz’ soirées organised.

The full programme and tickets are available online. Prices vary but some concerts are free.


Festival du Cinéma Américain, Deauville, September 6 - 15

Deauville American Film Festival in Calvados rewards the best US film productions – around 60 movies, from big Hollywood productions to independent movies and short films, are presented to cinephiles and a professional jury.

This year, actress Catherine Deneuve is the president of the jury.

The event is open to everyone and several events are organised in the festival village for visitors to have a better understanding of American film culture.


Foire Européenne de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, September 6 - 16

Around 180,000 visitors are expected for the European fair of Strasbourg – a lifestyle exhibition featuring a huge range of producers and artisans – which this year has ‘Route 66’ as its theme.

Set in the parc des expositions Wacken, a journey is mapped out for visitors to go from Chicago to Santa Monica, passing through Arizona and Hollywood, with over 900 different stands available.

It provides a great chance to discover more about America while doing some shopping. Many activities are also planned, including music shows, dance, and product demonstrations.

There will be food trucks and a kids’ area with a treetop adventure course.

Certain days will have another unique theme, such as a women’s day and a day in collaboration with the Europa Park.


Marathon des Châteaux du Médoc, Pauillac, September 7

There are hundreds of marathons organised every year but the annual event held in Pauillac, Gironde is quite special – the runners all wear fancy dress.

The marathon, which starts with a presentation of all the dressed-up runners, is known for being a fun race where you can run through vineyards and stop for a drink – in total, there are 22 stops, and around 50 other activities. Runners are also invited to eat together.

There will be live music and games along the route, awards handed out in the afternoon, then a night-time show featuring more music and fireworks.


Fête de la Choucroute, Meistratzheim, September 8

Sauerkraut is an iconic Alsace speciality and in the village of Meistratzheim, residents pay homage to the cabbage-centric delicacy on the second Sunday of September.

Early in the morning, a flea market takes place in the village’s main street before everyone is invited to eat sauerkraut for lunch in the salle polyvalente.

In the afternoon a parade with different floats takes place and the day ends with another meal of – you guessed it, sauerkraut – and a village dance.


Photaumnales, Beauvais, September 21 - January 5

Photaumnales is the year’s essential rendez-vous for photography lovers in Oise. Over four months, the work of different artists from all over the world is put on display in Beauvais and other cities of the Hauts-de-France region (Amiens, Clermont-de-l’Oise).

The free exhibitions have one theme in common – the Earth – but each work gives a different point of view as several issues such as pollution, global warming, natural disasters and the treatment of animals, are raised.

Some images may shock but serve to raise awareness on crucial matters.


Journées du patrimoine, France, September 21 - 22

European heritage days, which have taken place every year since 1991 in most of the European countries, were initiated by the French minister Jack Lang in 1984. First called journée portes ouvertes dans les monuments historiques, they then were extended to last two days (instead of one) and became les journées nationales du patrimoine in 1992.

These days are now a cultural staple and they aim to make culture more accessible to everyone by helping people to discover French heritage via free museum entrance. The theme of the event varies every year, and this year it is arts and entertainment in the spotlight


Festival du film britannique, Dinard, Ille-et-Vilaine, September 25 - 29

After Cannes and the American film festival, it is time for the British film festival.

Since 1989, the festival has been celebrating British productions and its best actors.

Hugh Grant, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Rampling have all attended.Around ten movies are presented in their original version, with French subtitles, and the best ones are rewarded by a professional jury.


L’Art dans les Chapelles, Pays de Pontivy, until September 15

Every summer in Pontivy, Morbihan (Brittany) a cultural association invites artists to put their work on display in religious places.

Twenty small churches and chapels around the valley of Blavet take part in the initiative, offering people a unique artistic journey to follow while visiting the region.

The exhibitions highlight the architecture of the chapels, which are part of the national heritage.

It is also an unusual place for the work of fine arts creatives, who met the challenge to installing something in buildings constructed in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Visitors are sure to be impressed by the originality of the exhibitions in such hushed surroundings.

All the chapel entrances are free but you can also opt for a guided tour, which has to be booked in advance.


Bol d’Or, Le Castellet, September 20 - 22

Motorbike lovers will be keen to spend a few days at the magnificently modernised Paul Ricard circuit in Castellet, Var, where the gruelling annual 24-hour race Bol d’Or has been held every year since 1922.

The race has become one of the world’s leading endurance events, with around 500 riders representing all the top motorcycle brands, including Suzuki, Honda, BMW, Ducati and Kawasaki.

There will be three main races over the weekend but plenty else to keep you entertained.

The event’s layout allows visitors to explore different aspects of biking – for example, the festival village is laid on for those keen to discover new bike-related products, while free servicing of your own bike or helmet is also available.

Some motorbike clubs will be in attendance, with vintage bikes to the fore along with a certain rock and roll attitude!

There will be a concert area called La grande scène du Bol d’Or plus stunt demonstrations and bike-themed exhibitions. Some activities and induction sessions are offered for children, who can also enjoy a funfair.


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.

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