Live like a local when you’re in France this summer and wend your way to one or more of these fabulous cultural events
1. Normandy Impressionist Festival
Where: various venues around Normandy
When: throughout August until 26 September
As the birthplace of some of the founders of Impressionism, Normandy is more than valid in its celebration of the arts movement and its greatest masters with this event. It’s a summer-long festival that showcases the paintings of Impressionist artists that are most well known and recognised while also revealing how Impressionism was expressed through the other creative media of photography, music, dance and film. You’ll find most events take place in Rouen and Caen.
2. La Gacilly Photo Festival
Where: La Gacilly
When: throughout August until 30 September
The largest outdoor photo festival in France packs a punch. An exhibition of remarkable photojournalism that scratches at your social and environmental conscience. The imagery will leave you speechless. The themes will beg questions of you. You’ll leave La Gacilly enlightened and perhaps even a little numb from the stories that unfold from the photography.
3. Voyage a Nantes
When: until 28 August
Follow a trail of contemporary art and poetry through this fabulous city. From the LU factory alongside Canal Saint-Felix weave your way passed memorials, castles, parks and the medieval quarter taking in more than 30 art expressions. The trail is marked out on the ground so it’s difficult to get lost. Beyond the city, between Nantes and Clisson you canalso follow a road trail of sightseeing opportunities and Muscadet tastings. What a wonderful way to discover this corner of France.
4. Pyrotechnic Art Festival
Where: Cannes Bay
When: 7, 15 & 24 August
Bright lights and battle music illuminate this historic bay as six nations compete to win the Silver Vestal award for best firework display. France’s entry will be displayed at the first event as spectators gather on the Promenade de la Croisette to watch this year’s spectacle ignite.
5. MiMa Puppet Art Festival
When: 4-7 August
One for all the family – the International Festival of Puppet Art comes every year to Ariege. It’s a showcase of modern talent in puppet art, a celebration of creativity and a nod to all areas of puppetry. Quite simply unusual and amazing to observe.
6. Corso of Lavender
When: 5-9 August
Now we know the French are rather prolific producers of the scented stuff but who knew there was so much to celebrate about lavender. This procession that began almost 90 years ago to promote lavender production continues its traditions today with the addition of firework displays, a grand ball and an international parade of folk groups. Music fills the streets from wandering bands and spectators will likely be handed traditional lavender purses as a memento.
7. La Foire aux Vins
When: 5-15 August
Mix music with fine French wine and good times should be had. Described as an event to come together with friends to savour the tastes of the region and enjoy the extensive programme of entertainment. Allez!
8. Marche flottant
Where: Quai Jean-Jaures, L’Isle sur la Sorgue
When: 7 August
No need to blink or look twice, this food market is as quirky and as colourful as you first glimpse it. The stall holders are attired in costume as they sell their foodie wares from nego-chins (flat bottomed boats). Like a harvest festival of Provencal fruit and vegetables blossomed by the summer sun with splash of wine and dollop of preserves.
9. Lacanau Pro
When: 11-21 August
One of the world’s oldest pro surfing competition this event attracts the world’s best and will continue to do so while the activity isn’t classed as an Olympic sport. The competitive element of the World Qualifying Series starts on 16 August but until then have a go at the waves yourself, there’ll be plenty of know-how on hand.
10. Festival of Blue Nets
When: 12-15 August
A weekend-long traditional Breton festival that draws natives and tourists alike. One of the largest celebrations of Breton culture, heritage and diversity you’ll doubtless recognise some of the costume, turn your ear to Celtic music and dance performances, be astounded by the water jousting displays and sway a minute or two to traditional sea shanties.
11. St Louis Festival
When: 18-23 August
A little bit different this one – a tournament of traditional water jousting set along this port town’s Canal Royal in the Languedoc Roussillon. Watch as competitors try to topple each other into the canal although don’t expect their sailing whites and straw boaters to survive too well. Sete comes to life during the festival with many street shows and festivities to observe as you wander or from the discretion of your restaurant table.
12. La Chaise-Dieu Festival de Musique
Where: La Chaise-Dieu, Haute Loire
When: 18-28 August
Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2016, this classical music festival is said to be one of the most important of its kind in France today. The programme includes baroque and sacred music, plus two special Mass services and celebrates the works of around 50 composers.
13. Mirabelle Plum Festival
When: 20-28 August
The Lorraine region is rather passionate about its great fruit production and export, so this is a week-long festival dedicated to local plums. Tastings, markets, shows, fireworks and crafts aside the Mirabelle Plum Queen is elected during the festival.
14. Big Prune Show
When: 26-28 August
Someone with a sense of humour probably gave this celebration of local prunes its name. But this is a family focused food and music festival with a significant nod towards the fruity emblem of Agen. Taste the first prune harvest, savour a food market of regional produce, find a seat at a concert or partake in sporting events. There’s something for everyone to mark the end of summer.
So those are our suggestions for August events in France – let us know if you attend any and what you thought.