When it comes to summer festivals in France, visitors are spoilt for choice. From festivals dedicated to regional history and tradition, to popular and classical music festivals, we have something for everyone. You may like to read our post on French festivals you should experience, but if you know you’ll be in France in the summer-time, here are seven of our best festivals to add to your travel itinerary.
The Carcassonne Festival has been running annually throughout July in southern France’s Languedoc region since 2006. Around 250,000 people attend one or more of the events, making it one of the biggest summer festivals in France. Most of the performances of contemporary music, theatre, opera and dance are free. Past acts have included Elton John, Johnny Halliday, Moby, Smashing Pumpkins, Supertramp and Deep Purple, among many others. Many shows take place at the Jean-Deschamps Theatre or on stage at the Château Comtal in the heart of the old city. Check out the program for the 2019 Carcassonne Festival, which includes a musical line-up of Christine and the Queens, Sting (sold out), the Black-Eyed Peas (sold out) and Oasis's Liam Gallagher.
A concert in the medieval city of Carcassonne (Photo: Jean-Baptiste Bellet)
Provins Medieval Festival, Île-de-France
Provins is a former medieval trade hub in north-central France, about an hour and a half by train from Paris. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has one of the most interesting summer festivals in France, where everyone is encouraged to join the fun. The annual two-day Medieval Festival has been held since 1984 and celebrates the town’s medieval past. It includes a full-scale re-enactment of the Champagne fairs, the trade fairs which were held annually in the region from the 12th century onwards. There are also acrobats, entertainers, craftspeople displaying typical medieval jewelry, spices, costumes and musical instruments, and there are many medieval games and activities to try. It’s also very fun to dress up in medieval costumes like everyone else!
Provins Medieval Festival (Phprevet, C.C. by SA 4.0)
The Cabourg Film Festival, Normandy
In mid-June, the charming town of Cabourg on Normandy’s coast dedicates five days to the French and European romantic film genre. The most romantic summer festival in France includes premieres, lectures and debates, and indoor and open-air screenings of short and feature-length films, all open to the public. Don’t miss the opportunity to spend a romantic evening under the stars watching a romantic movie with a loved one at the 400-seat open-air cinema on the beach, erected especially for the festival. The festival culminates with the Swann d'Or awards ceremony, where awards are presented to the best film, best short film, best actress and best actor.
Menton Music Festival, French Riviera
What could be more peaceful and romantic than a classical music concert under the stars, overlooking the Mediterranean? Since its foundation in 1950, the Menton Music Festival has welcomed the world’s top classical musicians to perform on the French Riviera. For two weeks spanning July and August, open-air concerts take place opposite the port outside Saint Michel Basilica. As well as world-class performers, the festivals has diversified in recent years and included rising classical stars in its program. The exceptional calibre of the performers and the beautiful setting makes this one of the summer festivals in France that you won’t want to miss.
St Michael's Basilica in Menton
Sully and Le Loiret Music Festival, Loire Valley
The Sully and Le Loiret Festival first became part of France’s musical landscape in 1973. Classical and jazz concerts are held in the Duke of Sully’s castle in Sully-sur-Loire and in the surrounding areas at places of architectural or historical interest. The programme includes a diverse offering of French and international artists and musical origins. You can check the 2019 program here.
Château de Sully-sur-Loire (Photo: Jackogamer CC by SA 4.0)
The Voyage à Nantes trail, Loire Valley
The Voyage à Nantes is a unique artistic nmevent which guides visitors through the city on a trail scattered with works of art. From the end of June through the end of August, pieces of contemporary art are spread throughout the city in small side streets, historic squares and indoor venues. The exhibits often reflect the themes of travel and poetry. The trail starts at the town’s old biscuit factory (now an arts exhibition space) and passes the slavery abolition memorial. It continues over the Isle of Nantes, where visitors can marvel at (and even ride) the giant mechanical elephant, before arriving at the Dukes of Brittany Castle. The route is easy to follow, as it is marked by a green line on the ground. Visitors do not require tickets to this event, and entry to most sites along the trail is free.
Le Grand Éléphant at Nantes (Jean-Pierre Dalbéra, Flickr)
The World Cultures Festival, Loire Valley
Since 1973, in the second week of August, amateur singers, dancers and musicians from around the world are invited to Montoire to perform in the World Cultures Festival. There are shows on every night under huge canvas tent. There are also exhibitions, conferences, courses and discovery sessions, traditional food from around the world, and music, crafts, and street entertainment. The festival facilitates interaction between the public and the performers, and between the performers themselves, to celebrate their diversity.
Cultural festival (Photo: Theglennpalacio C.C. by SA 4.0)
If you know you will be travelling to France during the summer, contact us to let us know if you would like us to try to include a French festival in your travel itinerary.