Celebrating the very best of French history, culture, cuisine and sport, plus a splash here and there of international culture, too. From gardens to film, mussels to marathon, you won’t be stuck for something to do. Question is, where will you go first?
When: until 2 November
This outdoor art museum in the form of garden and landscape art takes over the castle grounds at Chaumont-sur-Loire for the summer six months. Depending on when you visit, the exhibitions will be in a different state. This is no static display, everything you see is a work in progress on a collective theme. For more detail on the exhibits take a two hour guided walking tour.
When: 2-11 September
Entering its 41st year, the Deauville American Film Festival is a celebration of American film culture. One hundred or more US movies are chosen for screening from Hollywood blockbusters to independent cinematic delights. There’s judging, awards and also a festival village for insight into every aspect of this fascinating and dominating arts scene.
When 3-4 September
A combination of ancient history meets every day life in Lille on the first weekend of September every year. With its origins in the Lille Fair of the 12th century this 33 hour-long fair starts with a half marathon and runs through the night ending at 11pm on the Sunday. With the city pedestrianised, there are only three things to do. 1: sell your goods on one of the market stalls. 2: buy some of those goods. 3: eat modules frites. It’s traditional for Lille restaurants to serve the dish throughout the festival. What’s more there a competition to amass the tallest pile of discarded mussel shells outside your restaurant. That alone is a sight worth seeing!
When: 3-4 September
What better way to discover, savour and celebrate Loire Valley wines than with a wander through the vines, tasting them as you ramble. A series of guided walks around Nantes, Angers, Saumur, Tours and Blois take around 3 hours each. Tastings are accompanied with nibbles, probably a local cheese, and you may even take in the odd local heritage site. An event for all the family, there is entertainment across the weekend including games for children, culinary demonstrations and, of course, the obligatory wine sales tent so you can take home your favourites from the walk.
When: 10 September
A rather novel combination, wine and running, and this really is rather unique in the marathon calendar. Celebrating its 21st year in 2016, the Medoc Marathon takes in the villages of Saint-Julien and Saint-Estephe as well as some 50 chateaux along the way. In addition to this scenic route, runners are invited to partake and replenish with culinary delights including wine, foie gras and oysters as they make their way along the 26.2 mile route!
When: 10-11 September
September events in Cremieu are a throwback to the Middle Ages. You’ll find costume clad fire-eaters, jousters, jugglers and traditional trades showing their wares. Take part in a workshop, taste time gone by at the big banquet or simply marvel at the many and varied street performances trying to catch your eye.
Where: across France
When: 17-18 September
Perhaps the crowning glory of France’s cultural events of the autumn sees many public and private buildings open to the public. Across these two European Heritage Days you can access the Elysée Palace and town halls as well as private castles and villas. Whether the venues are open normally or not, this weekend sees special guided tours, demonstrations and performances hosted at each of them or across multiple venues so you can follow a heritage trail.
When: 18 September
While the route of this marathon takes in spectacular wine country, you don’t have to consume any until the finish. Starting in Tours the route goes along the banks of the Loire taking in Villandry Castle, Berthenay, Saint-Genouph and La Riche. But this wouldn’t be France if there wasn’t a gastronomic element. Competitors and their supporters are invited to join the “pasta party” the evening before the race.
Where: across France
When: 23-25 September
This festival of French cuisine celebrates French gastronomy and UNESCO’s recognition of just that back in 2011. At events across France you’ll come across food demonstrations, workshops and activities as well as find breweries and wine cellars open for tours. There’s also a fantastic scheme “tous au restaurant”, which entitles diners to one free meal for every meal bought at a partner establishment. Bon appetit!
When: 28 September – 2 October
Dinard is said to be the most British of French seaside resorts and as such has become closely associated to launching British cinema in Europe. Just like Cannes, there’s judging, there are awards, there’s red carpet and many a successful British movie has been launched here. It’s rather an odd scenario for a Brit to experience, but good show!
Where: La Rochelle
When: 28 September – 3 October
Now this is very much up our street! An international boat fair that takes places in Minimes Harbour, La Rochelle with more than 800 exhibitors. As events go this is vast. You’ll find themed areas, small boats and enormous yachts, and many are available to try before you buy. The atmosphere is fabulous and you’ll get close to some of the world’s most spectacular nautical creations in the stunning setting of La Rochelle.
There are plenty of summer-long events that take place in France and continue through September and some beyond then too. Take a look at our August event guide too and you’ll see even more September events in France.