Going to festivals and events in the summer in France is a great way to experience the country’s culture and ambiance. There are hundreds, if not thousands of great events on all over France and here we pick just a few of our favourites.
A word about the traffic in France in the summer
July and August are when schools close in France and French people take their holidays. The majority of holidays are taken in France and that means it can get very busy. You can pretty much guarantee every weekend starting from mid-July until the end of August will see increased activity on the roads everywhere.
The worst traffic jams are usually the middle week of July - the first big holiday departure en masse for the French. The last weekend of July is traditionally the busiest of the summer and the first weekend of August is also busy.
Useful website: This French government website predicts traffic flows and gives the latest details of congestion. Information is provided in English: www.bison-fute.gouv.fr
Some of the best summer events in France
Main Square Music Festival Arras, Hauts de France: 20 June – 2 July. The small town of Arras, is the venue for one of Europe’s major musical events – The Main Square Festival. Dozens of the best up-and-coming artists plus leading international artists. This year performers include Radiohead, www.mainsquarefestival.fr
Paris Plage: 8 July – 3 September. Two miles of the Seine (near the Pont Neuf) becomes Paris Plage, the city beach, perfect for sunbathing and relaxing. The aim is that Parisians stuck in the city can enjoy a stroll along the traffic-free river bank or a lazy day by the water. Play petanque and volleyball, take in a concert or enjoy tai chi and dancing – festive, fun and free entertainment. Details: quefaire.paris.fr
Festival of Aix, Aix-en-Provence, Provence; 3-22 July. Spectacular music festival in various locations in this lovely town www.festival-aix.com
Festival d’Avignon, Avignon, Provence: 6-26 July. This annual arts festival is magnificent, with performances given in dozens of venues and in streets and open air spaces throughout the city and beyond; plus hundreds of “unofficial” shows www.festival-avignon.com
Cosmo Jazz Festival, Chamonix, Haute-Savoie: 22-30 July. Free concerts in some of Chamonix’s most amazing locations – such as the top of the Aiguille du Midi, Lac Blanc and Grand Montet. Cosmo Jazz Festival features brass bands playing in breath-taking scenery. www.cosmojazzfestival.com
Festival du Bout du Monde –Crozon, Brittany: 4-6 August. A three-day music festival held on the Peninsula of Crozon, the Festival at the End of the World celebrates French and world music www.festivalduboutdumonde.com
Festival Interceltique de Lorient, Lorient, Brittany: 4-13 August. About 700,000 people from all over the world invade the Celtic land of Lorient to enjoy the cream of Celtic music, from Galicia to Scotland. http://www.festival-interceltique.bzh/
Classique au Vert, Paris takes place in the leafy Parc Floral every weekend from 5 August to 17 September. World-class classical musicians gather while Paris is at its quietest to serenade tourists and Parisians in the beautiful Parc Floral de Paris. https://classiqueauvert.paris.fr/
Route du Rock Festival, Saint Malo, Brittany: August 17-20. Ever since August 1993 and a concert by a group of unknown musicians from Oxford (now known as Radiohead), the Route du Rock Festival of Saint Malo has gone from strength to strength, and become something of a benchmark in terms of British and American pop and rock. www.laroutedurock.com
Rock en Seine, Paris: 25-27 August. Concerts held in the lovely and historic gardens at Domaine National de Saint-Cloud with dozens of top bands: https://www.rockenseine.com/
This is just a smidgeon of what’s on this summer in France, check at local tourist offices for lots of details and nip over to French Connections rental pages to find your dream accommodation in France...