Whether you like good food, wine, pop music, classical music, opera or film, the French are big on festivals. So, if you are moving house to France, or visiting the country, you will find a fête or a festival to suit your tastes…and one of them could be near you. Each month there are literally hundreds of events, small or large, staged all over the country. If you want to soak up the atmosphere at a festival, here we have put the spotlight on seven of the country’s biggest celebrations for 2014:
Attracting a million visitors a year, this is one of the world’s biggest carnivals and takes place annually in February. Its roots can be traced right back to the 13th century as there is a written record of a carnival taking place in 1294. It goes on for two weeks and the last day falls on Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday). This year’s carnival is from February 14 to March 4 and the theme is The King of Gastronomy.
The Lemon Festival
It seems unusual to have a festival dedicated to this humble fruit, but the Lemon Festival, in Menton, Côte d’Azur, is now in its 81st year and attracts around 200,000 visitors. Each year around 130 tonnes of citrus fruit is used; and as well as an exhibition of light and colour, you can also see a wonderful parade of fruit laden floats. The festival is from February 15 – March 5.
Cannes Film Festival
Making headlines worldwide, Cannes in the French Riviera springs to life when top directors, emerging talent in the film industry, and the world’s press, descend on the city for the annual film festival. This prestigious festival, which this year is from May 14 – 25, previews new films and documentaries from around the world – but the bad news is that it is invitation only.
This is France’s biggest rock festival and takes place near Belfort, in a stunning location near the Malsaucy Lake on the Swiss border. Past line ups have included Bjork, Bob Dylan, Portishead, INXS, Amy Winehouse, Kasabian, Jamiroquai, Blur, Missy Elliott, Jay-Z and Kanye West. Around 100,000 music lovers are expected to attend this year’s concert which takes place from July 5 – 8 (to be confirmed).
Bastille Day on July 14 is a national holiday in France and is when a host of events take place all over the country from a Military Parade and air display in Paris to mesmerising firework displays. It marks the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris, a landmark event at the start of the French Revolution. This year Bastille Day falls on a Monday and wherever you move to in France, you will find a celebration near you.
Salon International de l’Agroalimentaire (SIAL)
France is famous for its food so it is no surprise that the world’s biggest food exhibition for the trade will be held in Paris from October 19 – 23. Around 150,000 people are expected at the venue at Parc des Expositions de Paris Nord Villepinte, which will play host to nearly 6,000 exhibitors from 200 countries worldwide.
Each year, in the last weekend of August, Agen in Lot-et-Garonne hosts the Big Prune Show which attracts as many as 70,000 visitors. It is a fun filled family event with stalls, prune tasting, street shows and live music. Now in its ninth year, the festival just gets bigger and better and is well worth visiting if you are moving house to the Lot Valley in France.
- Official website from the French tourist board office. It includes information on accommodation, flights, the various regions of France, activities and practical advice.
Michael Sawyer writes for Hamiltons Removals who specialise in removals to France as well as a full range of UK, Europe and worldwide destinations.