Planning your France 2019 holiday? Beyond the waterways, it’s really important for us to know what’s going on across the country, especially in tourist hotspots.
We’ve started the research, so you don’t have to. Read on to discover our round-up of landmark anniversaries, cultural treats, foodie fests, sporting events, shopping sprees and must-see exhibitions in France next year. Keep your diary handy!
Landmark anniversaries in France 2019
2019 turns out to be a year for some big celebrations in France, when the country will be commemorating the following events:
Saint Philibert Abbey turns 1,000 years old
The Romanesque church in Tournus in Burgundy celebrates its millennial next year with the height of the big anniversary on 19 August. Highlights inside this ancient church include 12th century mosaics of zodiac signs and frescoes, a Romanesque Madonna made from Auvergne cedar and a stunning tall nave.
Chambord Chateau is 500
One of the most famous chateaux in France, Chambord in the Loire Valley, commemorates its 500th anniversary in 2019. Events will pivot around Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance, also celebrating half a millennial (see Cultural Treats below). Don’t miss the special edition of the Festival de Chambord.
Normandy Landings 75 years ago
After this year’s centenary of the Armistice, 2019 sees the turn of the Normandy Landings and Battle of Normandy, both of which happened 75 years ago. Commemoration events take place between 1 and 9 June and include an international memorial service on 6 June, synchronised fireworks at key landing sites, a picnic on Omaha Beach, and a massive parachute drop.
Cultural treats in France 2019
Biennale Internationale du Design
Saint-Etienne holds the 11th edition of the International Design Biennale from 21 March to 22 April 2019. This year’s theme, and new in France 2019, is Me/You/Nous – Designing Common Ground. It looks at what’s new in cutting-edge design and how to make it work for everyone.
Great Roman Games
Nimes’ Roman amphitheatre is one of the finest in Europe and in 2019 celebrates the 10th anniversary of its annual Roman Games. Chariot races, gladiator contests and battles will take place in the arena from 3-5 May, enacting the games as they would have been played out in the second century AD.
500th anniversary of the Renaissance
In tandem with Chambord’s celebrations (see above), France also commemorates the 500th anniversary of the birth of the Renaissance. The main special exhibition, 1519-2019 L’Utopie à L’Oeuvre, focuses on Leonardo Da Vinci as an architect.
Foodie fests in France 2019
Lyon International Capital of Gastronomy
Further confirmation of Lyon’s top foodie status comes with the crowning of the city as International Capital of Gastronomy in 2019. Food from around the world together with local culinary traditions will be on show in the summer at the 3,900 square metres recently restored Grand Hôtel Dieu. And if that isn’t enough food for you, there are always the 4,000+ restaurants in Lyon itself.
Marseille Provence Gastronomie 2019
Also new in France in 2019, Provence dedicates the entire year to its gastronomy with a 365-feast of regional fare. Expect lots of markets, foodie workshops, conferences and plenty of delicious dishes.
Sporting events in France 2019
30th anniversary of the Rouen Armada
The stunning Rouen Armada celebrates three decades of sailing ships from 6-16 June. The town expects over 10 million visitors flocking to admire the 50 participating ships from all over the world. Side events include entertainment, big-name concerts and firework displays. The absolute highlight is the 120km trip by all the ships along the River Seine from Rouen to Le Havre – a French waterways event extraordinaire!
FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019
Women’s football takes the limelight next year at nine venues throughout France. The event starts on 7 June with 20 qualifying teams vying for a place in the final in Lyon on 7 July. Allez les femmes!
Shopping sprees in France 2019
Retail addicts in Paris are in for double treats next year when France’s flagship department store Galleries Lafayette opens two new stores in the capital. The first (and the one with the poshest address) will open its door to the public on 52 Champs Elysées in March and offer premium designer collections and luxury goods. The second is set to open in the Beaugrenelle shopping centre in the autumn and sell more affordable luxury.
Must-see exhibitions in France 2019
And last on our list for what’s new in France in 2019, we come to exhibitions. There are literally dozens planned for next year at different venues around the country and to suit all cultural and arty tastes. You can see a list for those in Paris here. We’ve highlighted three must-see exhibitions in France 2019:
The Pharaoh’s Treasures
2019 is the centenary of the discovery of Egypt’s most famous king’s tomb. This exhibition showcases some 150 original objects from Tutankhamun’s burial place including 50 objects on loan outside Egypt for the first and last time. At the Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris from 23 March to 15 September. Tickets available online here.
The only woman painter within the Impressionist movement, Morisot, might be less well known than her fellow male artists but she was one of the most innovative in the group. An exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay from 18 June to 22 September takes a look at her life’s work.
British painter, Francis Bacon, gets a retrospective at the Pompidou from 11 September 2019 to 20 January 2020. The exhibition covers paintings by the very modern artist from the latter half of his life.
A cruise in France 2019
Whatever you’re commemorating in 2019 – a landmark anniversary, a special birthday or just because – why not celebrate on board a luxury barge hotel as you cruise a French river or canal. At French Waterways, we’ve got a wide range of barges to suit all budgets and tastes, and they crisscross the entire country so it’s easy to find a cruise in the area you want to visit.
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