10 Best Events and Festivals in France this summer for the French cultural experience
One of my most memorable experiences in France was spending an extraordinary evening in a tiny village in the heart of Normandy with thousands of people at the annual village festival.
Thousands of people, including families with young children, from all over the region swarmed this tiny village square dancing and singing to live bands, drinking local cider and wine, eating some of the best street food I have tasted with the most amazing musical firework finale. The atmosphere was one of happiness and celebrations, a great cultural experience.
Across France throughout the year there are festivals of music, art and culture all will have an emphasis on food and drink.
Centenary Year in France
2016 marks the centenary of The Battle of the Somme so there are lots of additional exhibitions and events in remembrance. Here are a few hand picked events for a flavour of French Culture.
1. The Cadre Noir of Saumur – Saumur
The famous Ecuyers of the Cadre Noir are the equestratian elite famed for their horsemanship displayed in the shows and galas each year performing to huge crowds.
Thursday 11th August 2016
Thursday 18th August 2016
Thursday 25th August 2016
Thursday 8th September 2016
Thursday 29th September 2016
Friday 22nd July
Saturday 23rd July
Sunday 24th July
Saturday 17th September
Sunday 18th July
Visitors are welcome to find out about the school, see the main arena, visit the Prestige stables and meet the horses. Located 49400 St-Hilaire-St-Florent, Saumur between Limoges and Angers in Northern France.
Photo from Lebatihem Flickr photo stream
2. Les Nuits de Lauzert – Lauzert
1st weekend in August : Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from nightfall (10 pm) to 1 am.
This beautiful open air performance of dancers, musicians, photographers, painters and permformance artists takes place around the medieval city of Lauzent at night. 2000 candles light the way to performances where you can interact and simply enjoy this unique 3 hour entertainment. Suitable for all ages.
This popular event has attracted over 20,000 visitors and is now in its 16th Year.
Photo from Archigeek Flickr photo stream
3. Festival Interceltique de Lorient
5th to 14th August 2016
Every summer around 700,00 people from across the world descend Lorient for the Festival Interceltique. The very best in Celtic music can be found at this festival.
Around 200 events and shos and 5000 performers there is something for everyone.
Photo from muffin Flickr photo stream
4. La Coupole presents “Wars, Sciences and Technologies, 1914-1945” exhibition
until 31st March 2017
With so much history in France and with the centernary La Coupole have created a large temporary exhibition to show the scientific and technological progress made during the two global conflicts. The themes of the exhibition are: artillery, aviation, tanks, chemical weapons, unit equipment, communications, detection, cryptography, sea warfare and medicine.
Many photographs and symbolic items have been put together with great care for visitors and touch screen tablets made available so visitors can gain a great deal of historical and technical information.
This wonderful exhibition will be accessible throughout the year.
Photo from 8bitwintermute Flickr photo stream
5. Championnat de France de Montgolfières 2016
10th to 15st August 2016
65 hot air balloons take to the skies in the Championnat de France de Montgolfieres 2016.
This free 5 day event also offers live music, hot air balloon shows, food, fireworks and more. Thousands of people from across France come to enjoy this great event.
Photo from Jean Weber Flickr photo stream
6. Jazz sur le toit à Cassis
10th July to 14th August 2016
Set between Calanques and Cap Canaille in the South of France this excellent Jazz festival overlooks the harbour with exquisite food and Cassis wines on tap.
Photo from Amanda Synder Flickr Photo stream
7. The Champagne Celebration Route
30th -31st July 2016
This is my personal favourite.
With a Champagne ‘passport’ (Champagne glass) take the champagne celebration route between Bar-sur-Aube and Colomby-les-Deux-Eglises exploring the french villages and tasting the champagne. Tour the vineyards and wine cellars and meet the very best Champagne producers in France.
Along your champagne route you will enjoy music, art and gourmet events.
photo from Richards Flickr photo stream
8. Fetes de la Mirabelle
20th to 28th August 2016
The Mirabelle Plum Festival is a fantastic event in Metz. This festival is rich in colour, music, markets, crafts and the “colour of time”.
With over 80,000 visitors each year, the Mirabelle Plum Festival has become an unmissable event in Metz. Every year, a dancing program, rich in colours, wonders and emotions is proposed! Not to miss: the election of the Queen of Mirabelle, la Mirabelle parade, fireworks, concerts, markets and local crafts and all other animations.
Photo from Phillip Flickr photo stream
9. La Gacilly Photo Festival
12th to 30th September 2016
This is a unique art exhibition in the charming village of La Gacilly. Photographs from well known artists and amateur photographers are installed outside throughout this pretty cobbled street village.
The art pieces have the environment as the theme so trees, animals, oceans, birds will grace the walls of these old cottages.
The aim of the exhibition, by Jacques Rocher, is to get the public to think about the environment in which they live and the future of the planet.
From Isabelle Puaut Flickr photo stream
10. Millévin: Avignon’s festival of new and old vintages
November 17th 2016
The Millevin Wine Festival in Avignon is an annual celebration of wine when the town becomes a festival of colour and music. This year the wine sellers are promoting the new Côtes-du-Rhône vintage with wine tasting followed by an auction.
In the main square approximately 30 wine sellers will be offering tasting and gourmet food will be served, including oysters. The evening is topped off with a Procession of the Brotherhood of the Rhône Valley with lots of colour and music.
Photo from Vin Rhone Flickr photo stream
Events per region
There are hundreds of cultural events across France this summer so if you are learning French then we recommend a trip across the water to spend some time soaking up the French atmosphere and way of life.
We do have an office in Brittany, France with host families ready to offer accommodation for younger students and offer French lessons in our offices in St Peter Port, Guernsey. To find out more contact us firstname.lastname@example.org