Considered as one of the most romantic places on the planet, France seduces travellers with its amazing aura, culture, food and architecture. With over 80 million visitors each year, you get to see some top tourist destinations in France, and they are a perfect host to some fantastic festivals throughout the year. The festivals in France give you the perfect blend of art, culture, and a rush of energy you won’t experience anywhere else.
1. Cannes Film Festival
The world’s most famous film festival created by a French Minister of Education and Fine Arts is a must-visit for all the film buffs out there. You can witness your favourite actors and actresses compete for the prestigious Palme d’Or award. Though most screenings are through invitation only, you have a lot of opportunities for red carpet star-spotting. You can get your tickets from the Cannes Tourist office.
TIME OF FESTIVAL: May
2. Festival Of Avignon
The historic courtyard of the Pope’s Palace gives you a chance to catch a glimpse of a French or world premiere of a new musical or theatrical production in the city of Avignon. It is one of the oldest festivals in France and is a haven for art connoisseurs across the globe. The venues are all over the city, which helps budding theatre performers in their careers. Probably the biggest and most important festival for people involved in art, some great performances have happened on these grounds.
TIME OF FESTIVAL: July
3. Bastille Day
Mark July 14 on your calendar for the biggest and one the most important National festival of France. You will witness the storming of the Bastille (la Prise de la Bastille) and the beginning of the French Revolution (la Révolution Française). There will be a massive parade with fireman’s balls and some free concerts. The Eiffel Tower will host some of the best fireworks you would have ever seen in your life. The Trocadéro gardens, Parc de Belleville and the Champ de Mars will give you a better view of the fireworks.
TRAVEL TIP: Don’t miss the masked ball event a day before the National festival of France.
TIME OF FESTIVAL: July 14th
4. Tour De France
The Tour De France is on the bucket list of every sportsperson. Over a hundred years old, The Tour De France is the best way to experience the countryside. The beauty of the locations will be overwhelming and is one of the most unpredictable events and festivals in France. Though the location varies each year, this year you will get to begin from Brussels through Colmar, Pau, Gap to Versailles and finally end in Paris.
TIME OF FESTIVAL: June – July
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5. Berck Sur Mer Kite Festival
The Berck-Sur-Mer International Kite Festival is one the most famous festivals in France where you get to see huge animals like pandas, pigs, crabs, lizards, and other cartoon figures high up in the sky. Catch a nice place on the sand dune to witness the kite experts battle it out against each other in the wind.
TIME OF FESTIVAL: Around April.
6. La Fête De La Musique
You cannot leave France without attending French music festivals. The Music Day or Music Festival is one of the biggest music festivals in France that happens in the country where musicians and music lovers gather to spend some amazing time with each other. Be it professionals or amateurs; you will find musicians at every nook and corner of the street performing their music. This is also one of the French music festivals that is free to attend for everyone.
TIME OF FESTIVAL: July.
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7. Menton Lemon Festival
Every spring, oranges and lemons decorate the city of Menton. This festival also come at the top of France points of interest. The City of Lemons will see parades of fruit-covered floats during the day and over 10-meter statues made from citrus in the Biovès Gardens at night. Locally made drinks, jams, soaps and perfumes made from lemons are a hit among the tourists. You can also witness performances by musicians, some amazing drummers, acrobats and masked dancers.
TIME OF FESTIVAL: February to March.
FUN FACT: Over 145 tons of lemon is used in this festival by over 300 professionals.
8. Festival Of Lights (Lyon)
The Festival of Lights France takes place at the beginning of December. Thousands of candles flicker in windows and balconies, and the city’s buildings and bridges are lit up with multi-coloured lights. You can also see light installations by different artists from across the globe. The magical sight transforms the city of Lyon to the city of lights. The Festival of Lights France sees over 4 million people from all over the world and is considered one of the best festivals in France.
TIME OF FESTIVAL: December is the best time to visit France for this festival.
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9. Lille Christmas Market
Lille’s month-long Christmas market gets you into the festive mood when stalls selling arts and crafts take over the Place Rihour. Children can enjoy a ride on the Ferris wheel while their parents can enjoy some traditional Christmas delicacies. Father Christmas lets your children taken photos with him.
TIME OF FESTIVAL: November to December.
10. Les Choregies d’Orange
One more festival on the France points of interest is the Les Chorégies d’Orange, where you get to enjoy al fresco opera at this Roman theatre in the city of Orange. Started around the late 1800s, the semi-circular tired stone seating and acoustic stone stage wall give the location one of the world’s best settings. International opera stars take the stage on a programme of the well and lesser-known productions. An experience to be cherished even though you are not much of an opera fan.
TIME OF FESTIVAL: June, July and August.
11. Festival Medieval De Sedan
Known as the giant of Sedan, this is the largest medieval castle in Europe. This is also considered to be one of the best France tourist attractions where you get to meet the Middle Ages. The place is spread over 35,000 square meters and over seven floors. One of the unique festivals in France, you get to witness knights, archery, wrestling bouts, sword fighting, banquets fairs, and more.
TIME OF FESTIVAL: May
12. Carcassone Festival
Carcassonne is an extremely well-preserved medieval city and one of the best tourist destinations in France. The best time to visit is during the summer-long festival where a mix of music, dance and theatre performances are given in the Grand Théâtre and Basilique Saint-Nazaire. Music lovers will have one hell of a time.
TIME OF FESTIVAL: June to August is the best time to visit France for this festival.
Also Read: 24 Best Festivals in Europe
13. Lorient Interceltic Festival
Lorient houses over 800,000 people who travel to celebrate the Festival Interceltique Lorient. It is a celebration of the place’s unique Celtic tradition in France, including the British Isles and northern part of Spain. Considered as the temporary centre of the Celtic world, the festival first started in 1971. Ten days and nights of non-stop music and dance will have you cherishing some of the best times of your lives.
TIME OF FESTIVAL: August
14. International Garden Festival
The gardens of Chateau Chaumont-sur-Loire hosts the annual Festival des Jardins, which is a garden festival where you can find up to 30 themed gardens. Only 20 to 30 gardens are selected for inclusion in the festival from over 300 proposals. You have participants from the UK, the Netherlands, Japan, Italy and Germany. You can witness over 2000 candles being lit all over, which makes it a must place to visit at night and is one of the most iconic France tourist attractions.
TIME OF FESTIVAL: April to November is the best time to visit France for this festival.
15. World Puppet Theatre Festival, Charleville-Mézière
The town of Charleville-Mézières hosts the Festival Mondial des Théâtre de Marionnettes, or World Puppet Theater Festival every two years. It is usually held in in the Champagne-Ardennes region of France, where for ten days, around 250 troupes flock from all over to perform around two hundred shows. You can see the main festival, fringe or the street shows where over 100,000 spectators are present to cheer the participants.
TIME OF FESTIVAL: September
16. Cirque De Demain, Paris
Every year, circus actors compete at the Circus of Tomorrow under the Big Top of the Cirque Phénix. These circus actors are from some of the best circus schools in the world. The new talents discovered here are usually considered as famous artists of tomorrow. The animal trainers, clowns, jugglers and other acrobats perform in traditional as well as modern acts. If you want to spend some quality time with your family, this is where you should be.
TIME OF FESTIVAL: End of January.
Further Read: Top 8 Most Wonderful Spanish Festivals!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How many French festivals are there?
There are over 20 French festivals that take place all over the country.
2. What is the oldest festival in France?
The Chorégies d’Orange festival is the oldest in France. It dates back to around 1860.
3. What is France famous for?
France is famous for its culture, food, vintage wines, fashion, including some events and festivals like the Tour de France, Cannes International Film Festival and of course, the Eiffel Tower.
4. What is the most important holiday in France?
Bastille Day, which is the French National day, is the most important holiday in France. It is a symbol of the French Revolution and sets the storming of the Bastille in 1789 as one of the iconic parts of French history.
5. What traditions do they have in France for Christmas?
Advent Calendars, the Nativity scene, Postcards, Le Chandeleur, shoes by the fire and Christmas dinner are some of the traditions people have in France for Christmas.