Find out what’s on in Spring 2023 in France – here’s our pick of some of the best and new events this season…
Les Journées Européennes des Métiers d’Art
European Days of Crafts: 22 March – 7 April, a chance for the public to meet artisans as 5000 events take place across France. Workshops, exhibitions and demonstrations of skill plus tours. www.institut-metiersdart.org/
Chartres en Lumières
April 2023 to January 2024, the city of Chartres (Eure-et-Loire) puts on the most amazing light show with its annual festival of light. Take a guided visit, or simply wander this ancient city on foot. Make sure you visit the famous Cathedral while you’re there. www.chartresenlumieres.com/fr/
1st April is le poisson d’avril in France, (April Fish Day). You’ll see fish-shaped chocolates and pastries in shops across France. It’s traditional to stick paper cut-out fish onto people’s backs and not let them know. The idea is for them to walk around unaware all day, entertaining onlookers. The origins of le poisson d’avril are not clear but it’s believed to go back to a tradition of giving fish as a gift to celebrate the beginning of Easter and the end of Lent.
European Museum Night – May 13
Museums and monuments all over France will be open free of charge for most of the evening and many offer workshops, guided tours, musical performances and more. Not to be missed! nuitdesmusees.culture.gouv.fr/en/
Mont-Saint-Michel Normandy celebrates its 1000th anniversary in 2023. Construction of the Romanesque nave of the Mont-St-Michel Abbey began in 1023. We’ll be bringing you more on this UNESCO-listed wonder of the world in the summer issue of the magazine.
The Palace of Versailles celebrates its 400th Anniversary this year. Wishing to show all of Europe the magnificence of his reign, in 1661 Louis XIV transformed his father’s modest castle into one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. He installed the Court there in 1682 and his successors lived there until the French Revolution. It became a museum in 1837. There will be several exhibitions through the year to celebrate this important milestone.
Le Mans celebrates its 100th anniversary of the 24 Hours endurance race. The origins of the 24 Hours of Le Mans go back to 1906, when the Sarthe region won a public bid from the Automobile Club de France (ACF) to organise a Grand Prix. It was a huge success and sparked off the idea to hold an annual race. On May 26, 1923, 33 cars took to the track for the first edition of the 24-hour Speed and Endurance Grand Prix/Rudge-Withworth Cup. Since then, it has attracted daredevil racers from around the world including Hollywood legends Steve McQueen and Paul Newman.
Bayonne/Nouvelle Aquitaine: The Bayonne Ham Fair
Bayonne Ham Fair brings together more than 200,000 people, mainly young and old, around the river Nive, the Market and the quays of Bayonne. April 6-9 www.foireaujambon.fr/
Dordogne/Nouvelle Aquitaine – Dordogne’s “Chateau en Fête”
Sumptuous castles, manors and manor houses open their doors and present exhibitions, shows, sound and light shows, concerts, banquets, candlelit dinners and guided tours by the owner. 15 April – 1 May. chateauxenfete.com
Across France: Rendez-Vous aux Jardins garden festival – June 2-4
Each year, more than 2,200 parks and gardens – both public and private, open their doors and offer activities and meetings with owners and professionals (botanists, gardeners, landscapers) plus guided tours, sensory or naturalistic walks, demonstrations of know-how, garden tours, musical walks, games/competitions, theatrical events, etc. Theme for 2023: “Music in the Garden” rendezvousauxjardins.culture.gouv.fr/en
Rouen/Normandie – Armada of Tall Ships – June 8-18
Fifty magnificent tall ships, the world’s largest gathering, along with military boats and submarines from all over the world, manned by 7000 French and foreign sailors, will line Rouen’s quaysides for ten days of celebrations. The event finishes with a superb parade along the River Seine, towards the estuary between Honfleur and Le Havre. The Rouen Armada is the only event of its kind in France and is held every four years. www.armada.org/
Across France: Fête de la Musique – June 21
June 21, the day of the summer solstice is Fête de la musique day, a major free festival celebrating music in all its forms in streets across France. Thousands of concerts featuring bands, harmonies, choirs, orchestras, “big band” or rock groups. fetedelamusique.culture.gouv.fr
Vienne/Auvergne-Rhone-Alps – Jazz à Viennes – 28 June 28 – 12July
Created 40 years ago, the Festival Jazz à Vienne is held during the first two weeks of July. Every year over 200,000 festival goers flock to see more than 100 artists. jazzavienne.com/en
Across France: Tour de France – July 1-23
The world’s largest bike race covers a whopping 3,500km through the most beautiful landscapes of France. This year kicks off in Bilbao in the Basque Country and finishes on the Champs-Elysées in Paris.
Enjoy The Good Life France Magazine Spring 2023 issue – totally FREE: magazine.thegoodlifefrance.com/spring-2023