As a country famed for its forward-thinking, be it in food, fashion, art or architecture, France certainly has plenty to celebrate. Indeed, the French love a festival: celebration is rooted deep in their culture, and there's always the promise of an exciting event. Time your trip to France well, and you could mingle with the rich and famous at the acclaimed Cannes Film Festival, or simply make like the locals and celebrate the uprising of modern France on Bastille Day.
Of course, you can always just ask around for local festivals and events while you're there: from food markets to arts and crafts fairs, you'll find plenty to do throughout the year. But if you do decide to visit France for a specific event or festival, you'll need somewhere to call home for the holiday.
Tour de France
The Tour de France is the world’s most famous cycling competition, and a great event for cyclists and spectators alike. First held in 1903, today it is one of France’s most exciting annual events, covering 3,600 kilometres and lasting for three weeks. As the course changes every year, you need to keep up to date with the villages passed en route, but one of the most beautiful places the Tour de France usually travels through Brittany. With plenty of farmhouses, cottages and gites in the area, why not celebrate the world’s greatest cyclists as well as enjoying the area’s beautiful surroundings?
Mardi Gras is French for ‘Fat Tuesday’, a name which comes from the tradition of parading a fat ox around Paris on the day, reminding people not to eat meat during Lent. Known as Shrove Tuesday in the United Kingdom, the event can take place at any time between February and March, depending on when Easter falls. Today, the French celebrate Mardi Gras in a number of different ways, but one of the best places to enjoy the festivities is along the French Riviera. In Nice, locals parade around the city wearing giant, colourful masks, and end the 10 day celebration with fireworks displays, music concerts and street theatre.
Monaco Grand Prix
Held each year on the Circuit de Monaco, the Monaco Grand Prix is one of the world’s most exciting Formula One events. Having taken place since 1929, today it’s regarded as the world’s most important automobile race, with the Circuit de Monaco described as ‘an exceptional location of glamour and prestige’. The race takes place on a narrow course around the city streets of Monaco, including Monte Carlo and La Condamine, and sees tight corners, tunnels and elevation changes just a few of the difficult obstacles posed: as one of the most demanding Formula One tracks, the Monaco Grand Prix is the ultimate driving test.
Cannes Film Festival
The Cannes Film Festival is France’s greatest annual film festival, known for previewing some of the world’s most exciting and provoking documentaries during May. Famed for its prestige and tendency to gather the celeb world’s rich and famous, it’s also an extremely glamorous occasion, with most screenings and awards ceremonies deemed invitation-only. But this doesn’t mean Cannes is off limits during the event: you can still enjoy the star-studded event by spotting celebrities on their way to gala screenings, or enjoy watching movies at the Cinéma de la Plage, a public, open-air cinema on the beach.
Bastille Day, or La Fête de la Bastille, marks the anniversary of the 1789 storming of the Bastille Prison. As one of the first major events leading up to the French Revolution, it’s a National Holiday in France, and celebrated all over the country. But central Paris is the place to be when this exciting celebration comes round, with festivities including large parades by day and magnificent fireworks displays in the evening. The night before, the Bal du 14 juillet is certainly worth attending: an enormous masked ball which takes place at the Place de la Bastille, where the prison once stood, it takes on a different theme every year.