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.
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.
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.
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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