2019 events in France

Just about every corner of France has something big going on during the year. So it isn’t as easy as it sounds to put together a list of the best events! We’ve scoured the diaries and checked the centenaries to come up with some great suggestions though. Read on to discover our pick of the ten best 2019 events in France. All you have to do is plan your holiday around your favourite(s).

Go fly a kite

When: 6-14 April 2019

The seaside resort of Berck-Sur-Mer has been celebrating kite flying for 33 years. The annual Cerfs volants festival takes place this year from 6 to 14 April when over 500 kites from all corners of the world soar into the Channel skies. Enjoy kite making and flying classes, expert exhibitions and the grand finale on 13 April at 9pm when nocturnal kites take to the heights followed by a firework show. And if you can’t make it to Berck-Sur-Mer in time, check out the photo gallery on the website. Not quite as good as being there, but a very good second.

Son et lumière shows

When: 27 April – 12 October

The French do son et lumière shows like no one else and where better to enjoy one than in the magnificent city of Chartres. The Notre Dame Cathedral dominates centre stage, but numerous other monuments offer amazing luminous façades in the city too. Don’t miss the guided and themed tours while you there. Enjoy this year’s Chartres Light Show from 27 April to 12 October with the absolute highlight on 21 September when the Festival of Light takes place. To make the most of this unique event, download the handy app with a guide and map to all the main events. More details here.

500 years

When: January – December 2019

One of the best and biggest events in France in 2019 celebrates 500 years of the Renaissance in the country. Commemorations also coincide with the 500th anniversary of Leonardo Da Vinci’s death and that of the birth of Catherine de Medici. Celebrations take place throughout 2019 and centre on the Loire Valley, home to many Renaissance chateaux masterpieces and where Da Vinci lived for his last years. Read our Loire 2019 guide for more details.

Jazz in Paris

When: May, June & July

The City of Light and Love makes a great backdrop for jazz, and Paris holds no less than two big jazz festivals every year. The Jazz à Saint-Germaine-des-Prés Festival, now in its 18th edition, takes place on the Left Bank from 16 to 27 May and as usual, has a big-name programme. Also in the capital is the annual Paris Jazz Festival from 30 June to 22 July in the pretty Parc Floral. Details about this year’s programme has yet to be released, but don’t let that halt your holiday planning.

Le Tour

When: 6-28 July

We couldn’t omit the Tour de France from our list of top events in France in 2019. As usual, the world’s biggest and most famous cycle race covers all corners of France and provides 3,500 gruelling kilometres for the 20 teams. This year the race takes place from 6 to 28 July as it makes its round-about way from Brussels to Paris. 2019 celebrates the centenary of the Yellow Jersey so expect extra champagne for the winner of the first stage. And to get you in the mood for serious cycling, check out the route in 3D on the website.

An alternative festival

When: 25-28 July

Like your music alternative and your venue on the unusual side? Then the Midi Festival should be in your diary. Three days of concerts take place from 25 to 28 July in an arts centre, on the racetrack and beach at Hyères, a very pretty medieval town perched on a hill on the French Riviera. Full information about the 15th edition of this music festival here.

Everywhere but sur le pont

When: 4-23 July

July in Avignon means performing arts as the city hosts over 60 shows plus art exhibitions, readings and debates. Originally founded in 1947 as an alternative theatre venue to Paris, the Festival d’Avignon brings together the best in theatre and dance from the world over.

Venues include the iconic Palais des papes and theatres and concert halls in the town as well as numerous outside locations (everywhere, almost, except the bridge). Enjoy the Festival from 4 to 23 July. More information here.

French foodie paradise

When: January – December 2019

As the cradle of the world’s best culinary delights it would be a crime not to include something foodie on a list of the best 2019 events in France. Lyon, already the country’s gastronomic centre, steps even further into the culinary limelight this year as Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie.

Events in honour of this foodie accolade take place all year, but the highlight happens in the autumn (actual date yet to be confirmed) when the Grand-Hôtel Dieu opens its doors to the International Gastronomy Event proper.

The vast space takes food and cooking to a new level – enjoy learning about different types of cuisine and healthy eating, watch the chefs working their magic in the laboratories and taste the delights at the many restaurants and stalls.

da Vinci in focus

When: 24 October 2019 – 24 February 2020

In tandem with the Renaissance celebrations, the Louvre in Paris is holding possibly the best art exhibition in France this year. Leonardo da Vinci takes a look at the remarkable career of the artist, architect and engineer who created many of the finest works in Europe. Feast your eyes on true genius including many pieces are on loan from Italy plus of course, that lady with the enigmatic smile. From 24 October to 24 February next year.

2019 vintage

When: 21 November

And last on our list of great events in France this year, we turn to wine and one of the biggest annual celebrations. The official tasting of Beaujolais Nouveau takes place on the third Thursday in November (21 November this year) throughout the country as French wine lovers crack open the first wine of the season. The most famous festival, Les Sarmentelles, centres on Beaujeu and celebrates for a whole week with wine themed events and all local cellars open for tastings. Á votre santé!

Experience 2019 events in France

All these great events deserve to be enjoyed in style and how better than while you cruise the French waterways? Combine the best of a festival with a relaxing stay on one of our luxury hotel barges. Take a look at our routes and then pick your dates.

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Just about every corner of France has something big going on during the year. So it isn’t as easy as it sounds to put together a list of the best events! We’ve scoured the diaries and checked the centenaries to come up with some great suggestions though. Read on to discover our pick of the ten best 2019 events in France. All you have to do is plan your holiday around your favourite(s).

Are you a chocolate fan? If so, and you’re ever in Toulouse, seek out the amazing Galeries de Cacoe Fages in the St Cyprien district. Chocolate and Toulouse proved to be a delectable combination!

La Toulousaine – violet ganache, topped with a blackcurrant jelly, Caribbean chocolate and 66% cocoa…..

Chocolate sculptures Toulouse France

In this shop you’ll find the brothers Sylvain and Jeremy Fages eager to introduce you to their artisan chocolates – deliciously creative hand-crafted chocolate to eat, and drink!

Chocolate sculptures line the walls, all kinds of chocolates grace the counter-tops and you can watch the chocolatiers at work in their kitchen, creating the next masterpiece from carefully selected organic ingredients.

Choclate drink Toulouse France

But before you browse for gifts to take home be sure to sip from the divine range of chocolate drinks: hot chocolate infused with jasmine tea, or cinnamon, or passion fruit cup with a marshmallow flower, or there’s a vegan option made with almond milk – and many other delicious and surprising flavours..

At under 5 EUR per cup it’s an inexpensive way to take a break from sight-seeing and pass a happy half-hour savouring the passion and true craftsmanship of the French chocolatier.

Did you know?

  • Cacao beans were considered precious enough to be used as currency to exchange for food or slaves.
  • The Mayan and Aztec cultures used chocolate in its liquid form in religious ceremonies.
  • Chocolate wasn’t used in a hard tablet form until the 1850’s when Joseph Fry and then Nestle, Lindt and eventually Hershey perfected the commercialisation of chocolate in its hard form and today’s 35 billion dollar industry took off.

Where does chocolate come from?

Chocolate comes from the Theobroma Cacao tree, native to Central and South America, but it is grown commercially throughout the tropics and about 70% of the world’s cacao is grown in Africa.

A cacao tree can produce close to two thousand pods per year, sprouting from the branches and straight out of the trunk. The pods, which mature throughout the year, encase a sticky white pulp enclosing 30 or 40 seeds, or beans. The pods are harvested twice per year and then opened by hand. The beans, still sticky with pulp, are placed in earthen pits or wooden bins and covered with banana leaves and left to ferment.

It is the heat of fermentation that changes the bitter flavour of the raw bean into something more palatable. The sugars in the bean turn into acids, the colour changes from pale to dark brown and the pulp residue melts away. The length of the fermentation process depends on the type of bean; the higher quality beans may need only a few days to ferment, whilst others may need a week or more. As you’d expect the best chocolate flavours takes longer.

After fermentation, the beans are dried in the sun for about a week. The flavour continues to develop during this time and once dry, they are ready to be processed into chocolate.

Explore: chocolate and Toulouse

Hire boats and luxury hotel barges cruise the Canal du Midi from April to November. Toulouse, the ‘pink city’ to the western end, provides wonderful places to stay before and after your cruise and endless fascination.

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Chocolate shop toulouse

Les Galeries de Cacoe Fages
District of Saint-Cyprien
27 Rue Reclusane, Place de l’Estrapade, 31300 Toulouse
Phone: 05 34 51 55 52

6 French wines to drink in 2019 France maintains its position as the second-largest producer of wine in the world. It notched up the highest ever export values in 2018 despite a reduction in volume. French wines will undoubtedly continue to top wine lists this year. Wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy will also likely fetch record prices at auction. But along with the well known labels, experts believe that this year will have some surprises as wine connoisseurs move beyond the beaten trail. Read on to discover which French wines to drink in 2019.

France maintains its position as the second-largest producer of wine in the world. It notched up the highest ever export values in 2018 despite a reduction in volume. French wines will undoubtedly continue to top wine lists this year. Wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy will also likely fetch record prices at auction. But along with the well known labels, experts believe that this year will have some surprises as wine connoisseurs move beyond the beaten trail. Read on to discover which French wines to drink in 2019.

Burgundy perennial favourite

When it comes to the king of French wines, Burgundy undoubtedly vies for the crown with Bordeaux. This year, demand in Burgundy wines will remain high – Sotheby’s Wine reported big interest last year and expects the trend to continue in 2019. That said, don’t restrict your Burgundy wine tasting to reds – make 2019 the year of the Burgundy whites too.

Did you know?

Food friendly is the new watchword for French wines in 2019. Consumers are increasingly looking for wines that pair with a wide variety of cuisine including spicy Asian dishes.

Shift in Bordeaux

This wine region’s most famous labels will continue to attract the highest bids at auction and there’s no doubt that Bordeaux will remain a top pick for all lovers of fine vin. However, experts are predicting a move away from the traditional high-tannin, rich, oaky wines that form the backbone of Bordeaux wine tradition. 2019 will be the year for fruitier, fresher reds.

Wine critic Robert Parker recommends broadening your horizons in your search of Bordeaux wine too. Go to “the other side of the river”, he says, and head to Saint-Émilion, a picture postcard medieval village that also comes with UNESCO World Heritage status. Parker highlights the Château Angélus wines that are “truly fabulous” but claims that any Saint-Émilion wine with a decent vintage will make you “pretty happy”.

Beaujolais 2019

Famed as the first wine of the season, Beaujolais hasn’t always had a good press. However, experts claim that the tables are changing and 2019 could well turn out to be the year of Beaujolais.

“What was once considered a bit of a backwater is now heralded as producing some impressive yet accessible wines,” says Will Heslop from Berry Bros. & Rudd. The improvement in quality plus the wine’s freshness makes Beaujolais ideal for pairing with Asian cuisine.

Did you know?

Sustainability in wine production is also right on trend among consumers for French wine in 2019. Vineyards are increasingly eco-friendly with organic production on the rise and more and more biodynamic farming methods.

Look to the Rhône

The Côtes du Rhône (Rhône Valley in English) ranks as one of the largest wine producers in France. Red wines make up around 90% of all Rhône wines, which are best enjoyed within three to five years of production. Not ideal for cellaring for the grandchildren but bang on trend for 2019’s penchant for young, fresh wines.

The area had two good vintages in 2015 (released on the market at the end of 2017) and in 2016 (just appearing now). Experts recommend buying a bottle (or several) of these vintage Côtes du Rhône reds in 2019, reputedly excellent for pairing with sushi.

This region is also home to wine label classics such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Hermitage, also good buys for 2019. But this year it’s also safe to stray slightly off the beaten Rhone Valley track. Some of the area’s smaller vineyards with lesser known labels such as Clos des Papes and Usseglio are making “extraordinary wines right now”, according to Parker.

Drink rosé in 2019

Rosés fit the bill of the fashion for fresher, fruitier wines – few picnics and al fresco suppers were without a bottle during 2018. The trend looks set to continue this year with French rosés top of the must-have summer wine lists. Provence is, of course, king of French rosé wines so look for the best here in 2019.

Not content with ‘just’ a bottle, rosé lovers now favour magnums of the pink wine and many Provence vineyards produce this larger format. Top rosé picks for 2019 include the pale rosé made from the single grape Versant Grenache – seek this one out in Pays d’Oc. Then there’s the decidedly modern rosé produced from the Piquepoul Noir grape, one of the lesser known varieties in France.

Try the Vins de France

Along with the AOC and AOP (Appellation d’Origine Controllée/Protegée) and IGP (Indication Géographique Protegée) denomination, French wines also come under a third category. Vins de France, formed a decade ago, brings together wines by their grape rather than their terroir.

This lesser-known label is making something of a name for itself on the international wine scene and in 2018 was the only export market to grow. Experts predict more of the same for 2019 as more and more consumers discover the “other denomination”.

Don’t expect big, bold French wines among the Vins de France, but do be prepared for some pleasant surprises. Most are very drinkable and just as importantly, all wallet-friendly. The average price for a bottle of this type of French wine comes in at around €10.

In summary: 6 French wines to drink in 2019

  1. White Burgundy like Montrachet or splash out on Domaine de la Romanée-Conti at Sotheby’s this autumn
  2. Bordeaux wines such as Château Angélus and 2005 vintages
  3. Beaujolais Nouveau come November 2019
  4. Côtes du Rhône 2015 and 2016 vintages
  5. Rosé: Versant Grenache and Piquepoul Noir

Did you know?

Our luxury hotel barges cruise the rivers and canals of all the best known wine regions in France. A stay on board gives you the chance to discover stunning riverscapes, towns and villages as well as haute cuisine perfectly paired with French wine.

Why not kick back and relax as you enjoy the best of France including some of the country’s best wines for 2019? Choose your destination.

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6 French wines to drink in 2019 France maintains its position as the second-largest producer of wine in the world. It notched up the highest ever export values in 2018 despite a reduction in volume. French wines will undoubtedly continue to top wine lists this year. Wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy will also likely fetch record prices at auction. But along with the well known labels, experts believe that this year will have some surprises as wine connoisseurs move beyond the beaten trail. Read on to discover which French wines to drink in 2019.

 

2019 marks something of a landmark year in the Loire Valley, a region known for its iconic châteaux and timeless riverscapes. In 1519, the Loire became the cradle of the Renaissance creativity, thinking, architecture and art de vivre in France. 500 years later, the Loire celebrates the Renaissance with a long list of cultural, artistic and fun events commemorating this glorious period in French history.  Events based around the Renaissance take place all year and make for the perfect excuse to visit France in 2019. Naturally, event activity peaks in the summer with an especially good choice of son et lumière festivities. Read on for our round-up of the best events and where to see them. 2019 marks something of a landmark year in the Loire Valley, a region known for its iconic châteaux and timeless riverscapes. In 1519, the Loire became the cradle of the Renaissance creativity, thinking, architecture and art de vivre in France. 500 years later, the Loire celebrates the Renaissance with a long list of cultural, artistic and fun events commemorating this glorious period in French history.

Events based around the Renaissance take place all year and make for the perfect excuse to visit France in 2019. Naturally, event activity peaks in the summer with an especially good choice of son et lumière festivities. Read on for our round-up of the best events and where to see them.

Why 1519?

The Renaissance arrived from Italy via Charles VIII and Francis I, both big fans of Italian style. Francis I invited Leonardo da Vinci, the maître of the Renaissance, to the Loire in 1516. The genius arrived with his life’s work of manuscripts, notes and sketches along with several of his most famous works including the Mona Lisa.

Designated the king’s “master artist, engineer and architect”, Da Vinci set up at château de Clos Lucé in Amboise where he created, philosophised, held court and hosted parties. He is largely regarded to be the face behind the Renaissance in France, which is why he’s the logo for the 2019 commemorations known as Viva da Vinci!

He lived and created in Amboise for three years before he died on 2 May 1519. Another famous Loire historical figure, Catherine de Medici, was born just less than a month earlier. And in September of the same year, the first stone was laid for the château de Chambord. 500 years later, the Loire celebrates the Renaissance.

Main events

The Loire has really gone to town in celebrating the fifth centenary of the Renaissance. Visitors can expect art, music, philosophy, science, architecture, gastronomy, garden design and of course, art de vivre. All commemorate the period’s unique creativity and take place in venues across the entire region. Fittingly since most of them are monuments in themselves to the Renaissance, the Loire châteaux take centre stage.

See the full programme of events here.

Artistic events

Many of the Loire Renaissance celebrations focus on Da Vinci in his multiple creative guises. Architecture takes the limelight at Chambord where the main exhibition, 1519-2019 L’Utopie à L’Oeuvre, looks at Leonardo Da Vinci as an architect.  See it from 25 May to 1 September.

Chambord also hosts The Last Supper tapestry based on Da Vinci’s famous fresco. It’s on loan from the Vatican Museum. In fact, 2019 is the first time the work has left Italy since the 16th century. Marvel at it from 30 April to 30 September.

Contemporary artists offer their take on Da Vinci at an exhibition in Lémeré. The modern homage to the Italian genius includes works by several well-known contemporary creators such as the painter Pierre Ardouvin and the ceramicist Catherine Bret-Brownstone. Admire them from 1 April to 3 November.

Chambord events

The largest Renaissance château in the world, Chambord holds a very special place in the history of the artistic movement. The château hosts numerous events this year commemorating its fifth centenary. They include the 9th edition of the Chambord Festival whose central musical theme this year is the Renaissance. Enjoy it from 28 June to 13 July.

Son et lumière events

Da Vinci’s parties during his time in the Loire were famous for their son et lumière effects. As homage to these, several special light and sound events take place this year. They include:

  • château Blois – façade lit up with key Renaissance figures and events from 6 April to 22 September.
  • Orleans Cathedral – Renaissance-themed light display from 20 April to 14 September.
  • Tours – Renaissance themes from 29 June to 31 August.
  • château d’Azay-le-Rideau – night time visit to the château gardens, lit up for the occasion from 1 July to 31 August.
  • Chaumont-sur-Loire – displays in the International Garden Festival (see below) light up from 10pm to midnight from 1 July to 31 August.
  • château de Villandry – 2,000 candles light up the gardens from dusk during the Nuit des Mille Feux from 5 July to 2 August.

Garden events

Formal gardens come part and parcel of all Renaissance palaces and châteaux so it’s fitting that the Loire celebrates the Renaissance through gardens this year. Particular horticultural highlights are:

  • The 28th International Garden Festival at Chaumont-sur-Loire where designs take a Renaissance theme. See it from 25 April to 3 November
  • New gardens at château de Blois on the terrace overlooking the town and the Loire River. Open from 25 May.

Renaissance life events

As well as art, gardens and music, many events take a look at life during the Renaissance:

Perfumes and Cosmetics – a recreation of the lotions and potions used during the Renaissance including the famous Eau de Nostradamus. Sniff them at Candes-Saint-Martin from 1 April to 30 September.

Catherine de Medici’s bedroom – she owned the château de Chaumont-sur-Loire between 1550 and 1560 and to commemorate the 500th anniversary of her birth year, her bedroom opens this year. Restored to its former glory, the room showcases some exquisite original tapestries. Feast your eyes any time this year.

Family fun events  

Kids also have plenty of entertainment during the Loire Renaissance celebrations. Would be engineers and architects will love the Renaissance Lego exhibition at château de Cheverny from 1 July to 31 December. And those with a feel for all things techy shouldn’t miss Leonardo and Robots with interactive exhibits ranging from Da Vinci’s aerial screw to the InMoov robot. See it in Orleans from 2 March to 7 April.

Join in as the Loire celebrates the Renaissance

The height of artistic talent is best seen from the river Loire, flanked by some of the finest châteaux in the world and mostly built during the Renaissance.

Admire them as you glide past on a Loire river cruise – the excursions are bound to incorporate celebratory events.

For an alternative Loire Valley boating holiday hire a self-drive boat from one of three bases in and around Anjou, and explore from there.

And of course, cruising the Upper Loire from Chatillon sur Loire to Montargis, there’s hotel barge Renaissance.

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2019 marks something of a landmark year in the Loire Valley, a region known for its iconic châteaux and timeless riverscapes. In 1519, the Loire became the cradle of the Renaissance creativity, thinking, architecture and art de vivre in France. 500 years later, the Loire celebrates the Renaissance with a long list of cultural, artistic and fun events commemorating this glorious period in French history.  Events based around the Renaissance take place all year and make for the perfect excuse to visit France in 2019. Naturally, event activity peaks in the summer with an especially good choice of son et lumière festivities. Read on for our round-up of the best events and where to see them.