When thinking of a journey to France, many travelers daydream of sipping wine under the Eiffel Tower, cruising in a boat along the French Riviera, or maybe touring some of the most enchanting castles in Europe. But there are also plenty of other reasons to set one’s sights on France. Several people visited to experience the riveting collection of festivals each that celebrate many french traditions. From mega art extravaganzas and world-class carnivals to music festivals you’ll have to see to believe, France is loaded with celebrations you will never forget.
Travelers can have breakfast in Paris, coffee in Lyon, and still be ready to hop right into the fun of Festival d’Avignon by lunchtime. This french festival is less than three hours by rail from Paris and only an hour south of Lyon. The gorgeous medieval city of Avignon is easily one of the best destinations in France. It is especially alive for three weeks in July during one of the oldest and respected arts festivals in the country. Since its birth back in the late-1940s, the festival has blossomed into a sprawling, multifaceted event. It features an astonishing range of different artistic expressions that appeals to several different appetites.
Theater and More
At the center of the festival, visitors turn up for plays and other live shows at the immense stone courtyard of the Palais de Papes. The Palais is the city’s iconic palace. It was the home of the Pope back in the 14th century and remains one of the city’s main attractions. Theater was one of the essential art forms in France during the festival’s conception. Different varieties of shows can be seen at dozens of different venues around Avignon during the festival. You’re likely to find more household names performing at the bigger events at the festival. However, actors from local theaters and independent artists perform on the streets.
Theater is not the only attraction at the festival either. There are plenty of musical and dance performances, art displays and film screenings. Despite its enormous size, however, Festival d’Avignon is actually easy to navigate for visitors. Most festivalgoers can walk to nearly all of the different performances spread around the city’s center. Festival producers also recommend the self-service bikes (vélopops), that will quickly get you from venue to venue. If you need a break from the festival, there are plenty of options to escape for the afternoon. You can take a day trip to the scenic village of Cabrières-d’Avignon to catch the stunning purple fields of lavender just before the close of the season.
Fete de la Musique
There are a handful of great Parisian festivals worth considering, including Paris Quartier d’été, Rock en Seine and Bastille Day. But you’ll also have a hard time topping the Fete de la Musique. This street-music festival that brings about 100,000 patrons to the streets and buildings of Paris on the summer solstice. What started as a small street-based festival in 1982 has grown into a phenomenon. It takes over not only the streets but public gardens, courtyards, and even some museums and churches. In short, there’s simply no containing musical expression, and all styles and genres of music are welcome.
Although the festival is mainly celebrated throughout France, similar events have popped up in other countries as well. However, Paris remains the place to be if you love vivacious music festivals. Designed to be an extremely inclusive experience, Fete de la Musique also encourages musicians of all different experience levels. This makes it a hot spot for undiscovered talent. Amateur musicians will often find a crowd and break out into spontaneous performances. Whether you come to captivate those around you or to be captivated, the Fete de la Musique is a place that inspires musicians and spectators alike.
If you miss the Fete de la Musique but are still hoping for a festival experience, try the Paris Quartier d’été. During the summer, it showcases a terrific range of art forms and is another excellent chance to see Paris from a fresh perspective.
Carnival de Nice
The Nice Carnival has existed since around the 1290s. Each year, the beautiful city of Nice into astonishing displays of extravagant parades. The carnival is a testament to the artistic soul at the heart of the city and an excellent excuse to see one of the gems of the French Riviera. Taking place from mid-February to the early part of March. The carnival includes a renowned flower parade, various light parades, and a very popular parade dedicated to the main theme of the carnival.
Many of the top parades also take place right within the parameters of the Place Masséna. Place Masséna is Nice’s famous city square that hosts a variety of different public events during the year. Jaw-dropping artistry and intricate floats dominate the carnival. Each year the goal is to top the spectacle of the previous year. Throughout the two weeks of the carnival, the city of Nice carries a party atmosphere. There is an influx of both locals and visitors pouring in from all over for the main events.
If you need a breather from the crowds, there are a variety of different beaches to visit and seaside walks like the Promenade des Anglais. Although you won’t see too many brave swimmers in the water in late-February, the city’s temperate climate still make the beaches extremely inviting. With centuries-old traditions and endlessly clever slate of rolling artworks The Nice Carnival is a must see.
Other terrific festivals worth considering
If you want to be entertained, France is sure to have a festival that’s up your alley. World-famous events like the Cannes International Film Festival are well worth the effort and certainly live up to the hype. However, there are many other ways to delve into the festival circuit. Anyone looking to dive headfirst into a terrific French tradition, the Bastille Day celebrations on July 14 are an amazing display of cultural pride. While the summer is full of great festivals throughout France, winter stands out. Winter festivals in France like Lyon’s Festival of Lights in December and a major carnival in Menton in February are also great celebrations to experience.
Choosing the right festival can be the perfect way to upgrade your French vacation and allow you to stray away from the guidebook. The biggest problem you’re likely to have is that you’re going to want to come back again next year.