One of the best things about visiting France is the abundance of festivals and annual events that pepper the calendar in places all over the country. France has a lot to celebrate. The nation is known for its food, wine, fine art and that elegant style that's difficult to define, but very easy to spot. If you're planning a trip to France this season, you'll want to be sure to add a few of these French festivals to your travel itinerary:
Food and Wine Festivals
Food and wine are synonymous with France, so it's just natural that the country have a full schedule of festivals to celebrate these delicious natural resources.
Below are just a few to add to your travel schedule:
- Dijon Gastronomy Fair -- Dijon, in Burgundy, is known throughout the world for its savory mustard. The city is also know for its many Michelin starred restaurants. Each year, Dijon celebrates this culinary history with a two-week festival in late October and early November. The event includes the introduction of new food and wine products as well as cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs, various food vendors and, of course, plenty of good things to eat and drink.
- Montmartre Grape Harvest Festival in Paris -- Long before it was a tourist mecca or even an artists' colony, the Montmartre neighborhood in Paris was home to many small vineyards. In fact, the windmills (moulins) that once peppered this part of Paris were used to draw water up to nourish the plants. Each October, Montmartre spends a weekend celebrating this heritage with a parade, fireworks, a street party and lots of wine.
- Bordeaux Wine Festival-- Bordeaux is associate with quality wine andvineyards throughout the world, so it's only fitting that the city host a wine festival. Held in late June each year, the Bordeaux Wine Festival features live music, tasting pavilions, art exhibits, fireworks and tours of some of the vineyards.
If you don't think of France as a music powerhouse, you should think again. The country has a long history of musical excellence, in genres from jazz to classical to folk music. Several festivals celebrate this history.
- Nice Jazz Festival - This Mediterranean resort city erupts with music for four days each July, since 1948. Past performers have included Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and Ella Fitzgerald.
- International Festival of Baroque Music in Burgundy -- This lesser-known music festival is held in Beaune (pronounced "bone") in Burgundy each July. The event features a variety of formal and casual music performances and other music-related festivities.
France has produced an impressive array of authors over the centuries. Among them are Victor Hugo, Andre Malraux, Honore Balzac and Emile Zola. The country has also inspired a host of ex-patriots like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. It only makes sense that the country would host a few book fairs.
- Paris Antique Book Fair - One of the most important book fairs in France is the Paris Antique Book Fair, held each April at the Grand Palais in Paris.The three-day event, now in its 31st year, includes a book marketplace, talks by authors, book-binding workshops and even books as art exhibits.
Arts and Film Festivals
France is also known for its many centuries of art and, more recently, film. The country honors this tradition with large and small festivals, including the world renowned Cannes Film Festival.
- Cannes Film Festival - One of the most well-known annual events in France, the Cannes Film Festival takes place for ten days in May each year. The event attracts many of the brightest stars and the most talented actors, directors and film makers to this Cote d'Azur resort city, not to mention thousands of adoring film fans. In addition to the film screenings, festival activities include discussions and lectures, red carpet events and the awards presentation.
- Biarritz Street Art Festival- The streets of Biarritz, located on France's Atlantic coast, are home to jugglers, mimes, dancers, chalk artists and more during the annual Biarritz Street Art Festival, held in late May and early June each year. The best part: admission is free.
Not every type of festival fits nicely into a category, including the French independence day celebration and the International Kite Festival in Calais.
- Bastille Day -- Bastille Day, the French Independence Day celebration, is marked on July 14th each year. There are patriotic events in almost every French town, but the most spectacular event is in Paris, where flags fly along the Champs Elysees, soldiers march in the military parade and fireworks erupt over the "Tour Eiffel."
- International Kite Festival -- Imagine hundreds of fanciful kites floating above the beach each spring. That's what happens at the International Kite Festival in Berck-sur-Mer on the English Channel each April. It's one of the largest kite gatherings in the world.
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