What's On in March

Sarlat goose fair worth a gander

Sarlat Fest’Oie, Dordogne, March 3-4

Dordogne is noted for its abundance of canards, but goose, too, makes its way onto many a local menu. This annual celebration of all things oie – including foie gras tastings and culinary demos – takes place in the idyllic olde-worlde environs of Sarlat, pretty capital of Périgord Noir.

Among the highlights for locals and visitors alike is a portion of tastes-better-than-it-sounds ‘carcass soup’, made with leftover goose meat, while Place de la Liberté welcomes a large traditional market with a special emphasis on local products and musical groups, whose sounds bring serious conviviality.


Mary Cassatt, An American Impressionist in Paris, from March 9

A major retrospective devoted to Mary Cassatt (1844–1926), considered during her lifetime to be the greatest American artist. The painter lived in France for more than sixty years and was the only American painter to have exhibited her work with the Impressionists in Paris.

The exhibition will bring together a selection of exceptional works loaned from major American museums.


France v England Six Nations rugby, Paris, March 10

Cross-channel sporting hostilities do not come much more hard-edged than the annual clash between Les Bleus and Les Rosbifs. This year’s coming together takes place in the fourth of five rounds in the Six Nations tournament.

Of the 103 times the two teams have met, England leads by 57 wins to 39. However, of matches played in France, the French lead by 26 wins to 23. Six Nations matches are shown live on France 2.

Salon du livre, Paris, March 16–19

Some 1,200 publishers and 2,000 authors from France and around the world are on hand at 500 stands and numerous events at Porte de Versailles to celebrate the written word. Readers can come to discover and buy books, and enjoy exclusive meetings with big-name authors.

Make a beeline for your preferred theme – there are stages for Crime Fiction, Bande-Dessinée and Young Adult fiction.


Springtime Arts Festival, Monaco, March 16–April 29

Various locations around the French Riviera’s elegant city-State will host a series of springtime classical music concerts, musician conferences and masterclasses. Founded at the request of Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace in 1970, the festival is internationally renowned and includes performances from some of Europe’s greatest orchestras. The opening night at the Grimaldi Forum will feature American music, including segments from Bernstein’s Westside Story.


Circulation(s) Young Photography Exhibition, Paris, March 17–May 6

Billed as ‘both a springboard for young photographers and a laboratory of contemporary creativity’, Circulation(s) celebrates and promotes European photographic diversity with the aim of discovering new young talent. Held in the Cent-Quatre cultural space, the exhibition generates 450 artworks which are then restituted to the artists at the end of the exhibition. Ideal for bargain art.


Goût de France - Good France, March 21 across France

More than 2,000 chefs across five continents celebrate French gastronomy by devising and serving up a special menu – which must include an aperitif with finger food, a starter, one or two main course(s), a cheese platter and/or a dessert, accompanied by French wines and champagne – to highlight the versatility and adaptability of the cuisine.

The man behind the event’s creation, chef Alain Ducasse, wants it to reflect the joie de vivre, optimism and pleasure that French cuisine brings. He conceived it alongside the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development – in order to provide increased visibility for French cuisine on a global scale.


Music and wine: Harmony and Dissonance, Bordeaux, March 23–June 24

For its second major artistic exhibition, Bordeaux’s exceptional new wine museum La Cité du Vin reveals the richness of the links between music and wine through a sensitive, sonorous and visual journey, which brings together the arts of painting, music and the stage.

Nearly 150 works from French and European collections will be displayed including paintings, ceramics, scores, music books, instruments and stage jewellery while concerts, conferences and films accompany the exhibition – see museum website for more details.


Coulommiers cheese and wine festival, Seine-et-Marne, March 23-26

Entry is free to this 50-year-old annual celebration of all things wine and cheese, in which over 350 producers will be on hand to offer samples and advice. There will also be livestock demonstrations (‘Le village agricole’), the famous Coulommiers blue Brie contest (smaller and thicker than traditional Brie and with a nuttier flavour), a guess the weight of the cow competition, plus a big cabaret show on the Saturday evening.


Festival des Arts Martiaux, AccorHotels Arena, Paris, March 24

A night of high drama and sporting excellence awaits as more than 300 international martial arts champions from all disciplines give it their all in combat displays. Since its inauguration in 1985, the three-hour Karaté Bushido event has welcomed nearly 9,000 demonstrators, to the delight of the 15,000 annual spectators. The arenas’s giant, four-sided screen means the spectacle is viewable by all.


Lee Bae at Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul de Vence March 24-June 17

Fondation Maeght, established in 1964 on the edge of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, hosts a specially created series of paintings and installations by Korean artist Lee Bae, who blends elements of Western abstract art with traditional artistic practices from Korean culture.

Based in France since 1990, Bae is noted for his use of burned or partially burned wood in his sculptures as well as charcoal on white/cream backgrounds. He originally chose charcoal as his main material because it was so cheap!


International Sacred Music Festival, Lourdes March 25–April 2

Lourdes, the holiest place in France, is the setting for a series of classical music concerts, with performances held at various religious sites around town.

Among the highlights are J.S. Bach’s Mass in B performed by the Ensemble and Baroque choir of Toulouse (March 28) and a concert of 17th century music for violin and harpsichord performed by Alejandro Serna and Lucille Chartrain.


Puppet exhibition, Lille, until April 15

The Musée de l’Hospice Comtesse in the heart of Old Lille brings to life the story of the northern French rod puppets, which were used to entertain workers in the second half of the 19th century.

Visitors will discover more than seventy wooden ‘actors’ and glean some know-how of the puppet shows held in mini theatres in and around Lille, notably under the local king of puppetry, Louis de Budt (1849 - 1936).


Guernica, Musée Picasso, Paris March 30–April 2

To mark the 80th anniversary of one of the most famous artworks in the world – Pablo Picasso’s anti-fascist, pacifist masterpiece Guernica – the Musée national Picasso-Paris is dedicating a fascinating exhibition to the painting’s creation, context and influence.

First, the show will examine the backstory of the work, such as events leading up to, and the fallout from, the bombing of the Basque village Gernika on April 26 1937. Next it will examine the the effect the painting had once it took on a life of its own – how it became a pacifist post-war symbol. And lastly, it will question the influence of Guernica on 20th century art to the present day.

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía have lent sketches and post-scriptums to illustrate the painting’s genesis but the masterpiece itself will not be on show – its permanent location is Madrid.


Isle-sur-la-Sorgue antiques fair, March 30-April 2

The 104th edition of Provence’s biggest and best antiques fair takes place over the Easter weekend, when the quaint small town’s streets and parks are transformed into a huge open-air market selling antiques, furniture, old books, contemporary art and trinkets.

Sellers flock here from far and wide for what is dubbed ‘Antiques, Art and You’, with Gautier Park and the quays of the River Sorgue the main hubs of trading.

Antiques experts will be on hand to help professionals and bargain-hunters alike, by providing information about the origins and authenticity of the antiques on sale. When bargain-hunting gets the better of you, head for one of the town’s many excellent restaurants.