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The best events and festivals in France in 2022

A view of the Eiffel tower from the Grand Palais - host of the annual Paris Photo exhibition.
A view of the Eiffel tower from the Grand Palais - host of the annual Paris Photo exhibition. 2022 has a jam-packed cultural calendar. (Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP)
With obvious caveat that much depends on the health situation and Covid-related rules in place, France has an outstanding variety of events on offer in 2022 for tourists and residents alike.

France has an incredibly rich cultural calendar – one of the many factors that routinely make it the most visited country in the world. 

January 

  • Paris Fashion Week (Paris)

Paris is one of four global cities that host the world’s major fashion weeks. After a year’s hiatus, in-person shows returned to the French capital in 2021. From January 18-27 2022, the global capital of style will once again play host to menswear and haute couture displays, with many events open to the public. Further shows, including for womenswear, will be held later in the year. If you fancy yourself a fashionista, you can find a full schedule HERE

Models strut along the catwalk during Paris fashion week. (Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP)
  • Truffle festival (Sarlat) 

L’Or Noir du Périgord (The black gold of Périgord) is the nickname given to the delicious Périgord truffle. The town of Sarlat, located in the region where ten tonnes of this truffle is grown every year, will host a special festival dedicated to the truffle on January 15-16, which is was still scheduled to go ahead at the time of writing. Expect tastings and cooking workshops with producers and chefs. You may even be able to grab a bargain. You can find more information HERE

February 

  • Le Carnaval de Nice (Nice)
The Nice carnaval is ranked among the top three in the world alongside Rio and Venice and has been going on since the 13th century. Each winter, it attracts hundreds of thousands of people from around the world with its lively processions and a real party vibe. It went ahead last year despite the pandemic and there are not currently any plans for the free event to be cancelled this year. The opening ceremony will be on February 11th although a jam-packed calendar of activities is scheduled until February 27th. The theme of this year’s event is “King of the Animals”. You can find more information HERE
 

Grotesque floats depicting famous French actors Louis de Funes, Bernard Blier, Alain Delon and others parade on the first day of the 135th Nice Carnival. (Photo by VALERY HACHE / AFP)

March

  • Le Crunch (Paris)

On March 19th, France will play England at rugby in the Six Nations tournament – a match that French people refer to as Le Crunch. The game between these two bitter rivals will take place at the Stade de France stadium. The women’s teams will play in the Stade de France on April 30th. While tickets for the men’s game are currently sold out, you can sign up on the stadium’s website to receive an alert if more become available HERE

April 

  • The International Kite and Wind Festival kite and wind festival (La Rochelle)

This spectacular festival on the Châtelaillon beach near La Rochelle was cancelled last year due to Covid, with the 2021 edition pushed back to 16-18th April 2022, over the Easter weekend. Some of the best kite pilots in the world will attend. It consists of kite making workshops, marvellous kite and kite surfing displays, land sailing activities and much more. This event is perfect for families. You can find more information HERE

May 

  • Roland Garros (Paris)

The French Open tennis grand-slam was open to the public in 2021, albeit at a limited capacity. There will likely be a similar situation this time around. Tickets typically go on sale in mid-March and are available HERE

  • The Great Roman Games (Nîmes) 

Every year, more than 500 actors descend on the French city of Nîmes to reenact ancient Roman games in a 2,000-year-old amphitheatre. While chariot racing and gladiatorial combat grips audiences inside the arena, fancy dress parades and guided tours of the archaeology museum await visitors outside. While the municipal authorities and official event organisers have yet to confirm whether the event will go ahead in 2022, local media outlets have reported that rehearsals are already going ahead – and that the real deal is set for May 6-8. Let the games begin! 

Roman soldiers advance on the Nîmes amphitheatre to prepare for one of Europe’s largest reenactments of ancient Roman games. (Photo by Pascal GUYOT / AFP)
  • Cannes Film Festival (Cannes)

 The 2022 Cannes Film Festival is scheduled for May 17-28 in 2022. The event, widely considered  the most prestigious film festival in the world, was postponed in 2021 due to the Covid pandemic but did eventually go ahead. Visitors to this glitzy even get to rub shoulders with the stars and see multiple film premiers. Tickets generally go on sale in early May and are available via this page

June 

  • Versailles Masquerade Ball (Versailles) 

Been wondering what to do with that Marie Antoinette-style dress or 18th-century aristocrat’s get up? Then this is the event for you. The annual masked ball in the orangerie of the palace of Versailles is scheduled for June 18th and tickets are already available here. DJs, dancers and performing artists will make this a baroque party to remember. 

People wearing 18th century garb take part in a masked ball at Versailles. (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP)
  • Fête de la Musique (Nationwide) 

This is a massive annual celebration in France and takes place on June 21st. It consists of tens of thousands of parties with live bands and DJs taking over the streets for hours of revelry. There is French traditional music, jazz, rock, pop, dub, electro and everything in between. 

July 

  • Bastille Day (Nationwide)

July 14th is a public holiday in France, commemorating the storming of the Bastille that was the symbolic start of the French Revolution. It is typically marked by a military parade along the Champs Elysées and fireworks and debauchery across the country. Last year, fireworks were cancelled in some French cities such as Lille as were bals de pompiers (big parties in fire stations) across much of the country. 

Fireworks explode above the Eiffel Tower as part of the annual Bastille Day celebrations. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP)
  • The Gois Run (Beauvoir-sur-Mer)

Scheduled for June 19th, this is an event where runners compete not just each other but also against a rising tide. Around 2,000 people compete in the race along the beach, close to Nantes, every year. Men, women and children compete separately in races that get progressively harder as the water rises and they are forced to splash their way through courses anywhere from 900m to 8km. Online registration to compete is now closed but it is possible to sign-up on the day. You can find out more information about the event here

Runners race against the tide during the Gois run. (Photo by FRANK PERRY / AFP)

August 

  • Rock en Seine (Paris)

This famous music festival is scheduled for August 25-28. Rage Against the Machine, Run the Jewels and the Arctic Monkeys are among the headline acts to have been named so far. Tickets are already on sale but under the current Covid rules, an event like this cannot take place. The organisers are clearly banking on case numbers falling by this point in the summer. 

September 

  • Braderie de Lille (Lille)

Before the pandemic, some 2-3 million people would visit Lille for a special, centuries old event every year. The whole city centre is transformed into a giant pedestrianised flea market. Traditionally, people tend to eat a lot of moules-frites (mussels and chips) during this festival, with seafood restaurants competing to see who can toss the biggest pile of empty mussel shells into the street. In a typical year, 500 tonnes of muscles are eaten. In 2022, the braderie de Lille is scheduled for September 3-4. 

Empty mussel shells pile up high in the street during the braderie de Lille. (Photo by FRANCOIS LO PRESTI / AFP)

October 

  • Salon du Chocolat (Paris) 

If you’re a chocoholic, this is the event for you. Every year, some of the world’s finest chocolatiers and more than 500 exhibitors descend on the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre for five days of cocoa-based demonstrations, tastings and even a fashion show. Some of the biggest names in the world of pastry also attend and take part in an international competition. In 2022, this event will be held from October 28th – November 1st. You can book tickets HERE.

  • Espelette Pepper Festival (Espelette)

Espelette peppers were first brought to France from Mexico in the 16th century and have since become a cornerstone of Basque cuisine. This species of capsicum is only 4 on the Scoville scale – less spicy than black pepper – but its distinctive flavour has made it incredibly popular. Since 2014, the village of Espelette, deep in the Basque country, has attracted tens of thousands of visitors to its annual chilli festival, complete with traditional songs and dancing, a “best chilli” competition, market stalls and plenty of tasting opportunities held in a picturesque country setting. In 2022 it is scheduled for October 21-22. You can read more HERE

The village Epelette celebrates its delicious peppers with a festival every year. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)

November 

  • Paris Photo (Paris) 

This is the world’s largest and most prestigious artistic photography exhibition and will be held in the Grand Palais, Paris, from 10-13 November 2022. Leading galleries showcase historical and contemporary artworks from modern masters to young talents. The work of more than 200 photographers will be on display – and you will be able to meet some of the artists themselves.  Various workshops, talks and debates will also be held. Tickets for this event are not yet on sale but will eventually be available HERE

  • Beaujolais Nouveau Day (Nationwide)

Unlike most wines, Beaujolais Nouveau is ready just a few weeks after the grapes are harvested. On the 3rd Thursday of the month of November each year, restaurants, bars and wine shops organise events to celebrate this young wine. Concerts and parties are organised to encourage as much consumption as possible. The Fête du Beaujolais Nouveau will be held on November 17th in 2022. 

December 

  • Festival of Lights (Lyon) 

A number of French cities hold fêtes de lumières in December but the best-known is in Lyon. Held from December 8-11 each year to mark the catholic holiday of the Immaculate Conception, the city hosts a number of magnificent light shows, with the side of the cathedral lit up in crazy colours and various artistic works illuminating the streets in 50 shades of neon. You can take a look at some of last year’s displays HERE. This event is free well worth a visit. 

  • Strasbourg Christmas market (Strasbourg)

The Strasbourg Christmas market is routinely ranked among the best in Europe and has been going since 1570. It generally opens in late November and runs until the end of the year. Over 300 stalls sell traditional Alsacien crafts and food. The picturesque Kléber square is an incredible setting where tens of thousands of adults and children alike feel the spirit of Christmas each year. 

  • St Nicolas Festival (Northeastern France) 

For people in north-east France, Monday, December 6th marks Saint Nicolas Day – with family celebrations and lots of gingerbread. The city of Nancy and towns in that corner of France hold parades, Christmas markets, puppet shows and concerts on December 6. The reason that this festival is only really marked in this part of the country is that the land itself was passed between French and German hands several times in the nineteenth century.  The inhabitants were left with a lot of German influences on language, cuisine and festivals – and Saint Nicolas Day, or Nikolaustag, is a very German tradition. 


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