The Best 2017 Events and Activities in France

2017 offers a wealth of festivals, carnivals and activities to enjoy all over France, all of which take advantage of their glorious surroundings to ensure an amazing spectacle.

From live music echoing around the historic ramparts and city streets of Carcassonne to brilliant bright kites on beautiful beaches in the sun-kissed Riviera, the unique cultural identity and scenic beauty of France makes it the perfect holiday destination. So take a look at our pick of this year’s biggest and best events.

Carcassonne Festival, Languedoc-Roussillon- 1-30 June

Carcassonne Fireworks Finale

The amazingly preserved medieval city and UNESCO site hosts this culturally diverse festival. One of France’s most popular events, it offers over 120 shows, many of which are free and take place in and around the  stunning historic streets of Carcassonne. International stars rub shoulders with emerging talent and local artists. www.festivaldecarcassonne.fr

Nice Carnival, Cote d’Azur – 11-25 February

One of the largest carnivals in the world takes over Nice for 2 weeks. The daily parades are a feast for the senses with fantastically decorated floats, huge figurines and over 1000 musicians, dancers and performers throughout the day and night. The famous flower battles see elaborately dressed figures throwing flowers into the crowd. www.nicecarnaval.com

VitiLoire, Tours, Loire Valley – 27-28 May

Celebrate the Loire Valley at this free event comprised of 150 winegrowers from this fantastically diverse wine-producing area. The festival includes a producers’ market, wine bars, cookery demonstrations, dinner parties and of course lots of tasting opportunities! Workshops, walks and cycles through the vineyards are also on offer. www.vitiloire.tours.fr

Dragon Festival, Mondragon, Provence – 13 May

The annual Fête du Drac takes place at night with a huge dragon procession, fireworks, medieval market and a carnival atmosphere. The festival pays homage to an old legend that a dragon appears on the banks of the River Rhone to catch unsuspecting villagers. Thankfully, visitors can just enjoy the spectacle without fear! www.comitedesfetesmondragon.com

Nice Jazz Festival, Cote d’Azur – 17-21 July

Nice city

One of the best known international jazz gatherings that has showcased the talent of Louis Armstrong, B.B. King and Erykah Badu to name but a few. The event dates back to 1948 and is now one of the French Riviera’s most popular events.  www.nicejazzfestival.fr

World Music Day, Nationwide – 21 June

La Fête de la Musique is held annually on the summer solstice and is a celebration of all types of amateur music. Across France musicians gather in the streets, bars and cafes to perform for free so you can enjoy a wonderfully festive atmosphere wherever you choose!  www.fetedelamusique.culture.fr.

Le Tour de France – various – 1-23 July

The world’s most prestigious bike race occurs over 3 weeks in July, taking in mountains, flats and road race sprints. Over 10 million people cheer on the race, enjoying the carnival atmosphere, the official promotional caravan and the grand spectacle. www.letour.fr

Menton Lemon Festival, Cote d’Azur – 13 Feb – 2 March

Citrus Exhibition at the Lemon Festival of Menton

Lemonade, lemon vinegar, lemon trees, lemon statues and lemon decorated floats; 145 tons of citrus fruit are worked into models and art in the centre of Menton to celebrate the lovely lemon! This unique event is over 80 years old and has a wonderful carnival atmosphere with parades and street performers. www.fete-du-citron.com

Bastille Day, Nationwide – 13 and 14 July

This national holiday is celebrated across France with fireworks, singing, dancing and a heartfelt party atmosphere. The storming of the Bastille was the start of the French revolution and many towns and cities, including Paris, also host a military parade. www.parisinfo.com

Avignon Festival, Provence – 6-26 July

Avignon, the UNESCO world heritage site, is home to one of France’s oldest and most famous festivals. Every year over 40 shows take place around the city, showcasing the very best in theatre, dance, music and visual arts for a native and international audience. www.festival-avignon.com

Chorégies d’Oranges d’Orange, Provence – 19 June – 5 August

This classical music and operatic spectacular dates back to 1860 and takes place in the magnificently preserved Roman theatre in Orange. The theatre’s original stone stage provides exceptional acoustics and atmosphere for the audience of 9,000, enjoying performances of well known works such as Madam Butterfly and La Traviata. www.choregies.fr

The Festival of Lights, Lyon, Alps – early Dec

Lyon lights

This beautiful night time spectacle sees Lyon awash with light. Candles are placed outside every window in the city and, buildings, streets and squares are lit by artists and light installations are showcased. The festival has a magical atmosphere, celebrating the creation of light. www.fetedeslumieres.lyon.fr

Lorient Interceltic Festival, Lorient, Brittany – 4-13 Aug

This Celtic area of Brittany celebrates its history and brings together the Celtic regions of the UK, France and Spain. The 10 days and nights offer a cultural showcase filled with music, dance, processions, markets and games. www.festival-interceltique.com

Braderie de Lille, Pas de Calais – 2-3 Sept

The Lille Street market is one of the world’s largest flea markets and one of France’s most famous events, dating back to medieval times. Lille is transformed into a bustling, pedestrian friendly home to 100km of stalls. Traditionally moules-frites is eaten by visitors, and the local restaurants compete to build the highest pile of empty shells in the street. www.lilletourism.com

Berck-Sur-Mer Kite Festival, Pas de Calais – 9-17 April

Kite festival

Put your feet on the sand and your head in the sky at this International Kite Festival! The huge beach at Berck has hosted all kinds of spectacular and colourful kites for over 25 years. Learn to fly and make kites for the first time or watch the biennial (falling on even years) world team championships. www.cerf-volant-berck.com

World Puppet Theatre Festival, Charleville-Mezieres, Champagne – 16-24 Sept 

The lead event in the world of puppet arts! Every 2 (odd numbered) years, 250 companies from 5 continents meet to present the latest puppet creations and productions. Visitors can enjoy over 200 puppet shows, from traditional to contemporary. Suitable for adults and children. www.festival-marionnette.com

Carpentras Truffle Market, Provence – Nov – March

In the foothills of Mont Ventoux, Carpentras is famous for its black Truffles. Every Friday morning from November until March, local foragers weigh in and sell their delicious finds at the weekly Truffle Market. www.carpentras-ventoux.com

International Garden Festival, Chateau Chaumont-Sur-Loire, Loire Valley – Apr to Nov

The chateau estate is transformed into an open air landscape art museum, showcasing the work of 30 landscape artists from around the world. Each year the gardens offer a new theme and transform beautifully throughout the spring, summer and autumn seasons. The gardens are lit at night using candles and beautifully bright LEDs, creating a magical visitor experience. www.domaine-chaumont.fr

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