La Fête de la Musique La Fête de la Musique

What's on in France this spring Featured

If you’re after a fresh spin on France, visit one of the country's smaller cities for a more relaxed culture and great festivals. Here’s our list for the first half of 2016


Paris Editor

Often cast side for the pleasures of scenic Paris, the rest of France has much to offer visitors throughout the year from food festivals, adrenaline-pumping sports competitions and cultural exhibitions. We bring you the star events not to miss across France.

March – major Yoko Ono retrospective in Lyon

yoko ono in en trance1997Yoko Ono in entrance

The artist’s first retrospective to take place in France, the Lyon Contemporary Art Museum (MAC) will showcase works from 1952 to the present-day across its 3,000m2 space. An artist and musician campaigning for peace, the exhibition will be entitled YOKO ONO the Light of Dawn and will include over a hundred works, illustrated poems, video work and performances. 9 March - 10 July 2016

May – The Cannes Film Festival

cannesCannes Film Festival - Flickr

Founded in 1946, the Cannes International Film Festival is the most prestigious in the world and is held every year on the French Riviera. Attracting the world’s A-listers, the main hub is the Palais des Festivals bookending the famous Croisette promenade that lines the beach. While festival screenings are attended by invitation only, the whole Côte d’Azur is held in the enthralling grip of the glitzy festival for the entire duration with satellite events held across the region. Côte d’Azur – 11 - 22 May 2016

May and June – the French Open

openThe French Open

Together with the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open, Roland Garros is one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments and it takes place for two weeks towards the end of March and beginning of June. Although Roland Garros doesn’t have the same social pizzazs as Wimbledon where you can rub shoulders with the likes of David Beckham and Prince William while gorging on strawberries and cream, it’s nevertheless one of the most high-profile events on the French social calendar. 16 May - 5 June 2016

June – Provins Medieval Festival

Provins-medieval-cityProvins Medieval City

Die-hard fans of Game of Thrones will be in their element here. Costumed folk have been celebrating arts and crafts from the Medieval Ages here in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Provins about an hour-and-a-half out of Paris since 1984. And for those who come in need of a break, there’s no better digital detox than dancing around the Tour César with acrobats and stilt-walkers, browsing market stands of hand-woven leather pouches, and sampling banquet fare and generally being completely immersed in daily life as it was in pre-sixteenth century France for a full five days. Les Médiévales de Provins, 11 - 12 June 2016

June – Les Courses Camarguaise

Course-Camargue-credits--SLes Courses Camarguaise

An annual event doused in the unique folklore of the picturesque Camargue region in the South of France, the Races take place from May until September. Similar to bull fights, the raseteur is in an arena with an award-winning bull. However, contrary to the Andalusian sport, the aim isn’t to kill the bull but to nab the string attached between its horns. An age-old event that runs back to the Middle Ages. During the festival it is a wonderful time to visit the region and its natural park. March to September, Camargue, Provence

June – La Fête de la Musique

Fete-de-la-MusiqueFete de la Musique

Kicking off the summer vibe in France each year, is the Fete de la Musique (Music Day), when everyone all over the country gets their instruments out and strikes a chord or two sometimes well into the early hours of the morning. Regardless of where you might find yourself on that special day, on the 21st June, which officially marks the summer solstice, there’s bound to be a party happening in a bar, restaurant, patch of grass somewhere near you – and it’s pretty much the only day (aside from New Year) when the neighbours won’t complain so get your dancing shoes on. 21 June 2016, all over France

1 Les Courses Camarguaise
2 Provins Medieval Festival
3 Cannes Film Festival
4 major Yoko Ono retrospective in Lyon
5 The French Open