France Events

Though there is never really a bad time to visit this beautiful country, timing your visit to coincide with one of the many exciting events in France can make any trip more memorable.

In France events like the Tour de France are part of the national culture. The most famous cycling race in the world, the tour is a three-week competition with stages across the country. Taking place in July, the tour is one of only two events in France that force the closure of Champs-Élysées (the other is Bastille Day). Watching the end of the race from a vantage point on Paris's most picturesque avenue is an unrivalled experience.

Of the other great sporting events in France, the best known is the Rolland Garros tennis tournament, more widely known as the French Open. One of the four major tennis competitions, Rolland Garros is the only one that takes place on the clay surfaces preferred by continental European tennis players. It is played over two weeks at the end of May and beginning of June.

France is a country with a long and proud history, and there are many events that celebrate this history. The most important of the historical events in France is Bastille Day, known to the French as Fête Nationale or simply quatorze juillet (July 14th, the date of holiday). The day marks the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789, the symbolic beginning of the French Revolution and the abolition of absolute monarchy in France. As with other historical events in France, Bastille Day is celebrated in different ways in different towns, but festivities generally include fireworks, street fairs, and dancing parties (bals du 14 juillet). In Paris, a military parade runs down Champs-Élysées.

Other historical events in France include Armistice Day (November 11), which marks the end of World War I, and D-Day (June 6), which marks the Allied invasion of occupied France in World War II. In France events marking the end of World War II occur on different days, as each city and town celebrates the anniversary of its liberation from Nazi forces. Some of the most entertaining historical events in France are the son-et-lumière (sound-and-light) pageants that take place throughout the summer at châteaux and churches in the Loire Valley.

France wine events clutter the calendar in September, when the first grape harvest begins, and November, when the first wines of the new harvest are ready to be sold. The vendange is the most important of France wine events—this is when the grapes are picked from the vines and wine production begins. It is worth a trip to one of France's wine producing regions in September or October to see the harvest.

The long awaited release of the first wine of the year—the Beaujolais Nouveau—takes place on the third Thursday in November. Celebrations are most lively in the Beaujolais region and in Paris. Just after this, on the third Sunday of November, comes the most famous of all France wine events. Les Trois Glorieuses, Burgundy's biggest wine festival, includes the year's most important wine auction and related events in major Burgundy towns. The Salon des Caves Pariculaires, a huge wine fair at the end of November, is the most important of the France wine events held in Paris.

In France events like the Cannes Film Festival (in Cannes, appropriately enough), the Nice Carnival, or the Monaco Grand Prix bring visitors from across the globe. Planning a trip to include one of these great France events is an excellent vacation idea.

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