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carnival in France

The best places to experience carnival in France

Carnival is traditionally celebrated in France during the last day before the beginning of fasting, the so-called ‘Fat Tuesday’.  Traditionally, pancakes, waffles or beignets are eaten in the carnival. Carnival festivals and parades are also organised in a number of cities that last for several days.  France has a lot to offer to the international carnival celebrations, here are the best places in the country to celebrate.


Carnival of Dunkirk (Hauts-de-France) from 6 January to 8 April 2018
The best places in France to experience carnival, festival, carnival, France

The Carnival of Dunkirk is one of the most famous in France. It was originally a fishermen’s party, but nowadays hundreds of thousands of carnival participants from all over Europe take part in the colourful and festive parades, evening balls, ceremonies and other carnival traditions such as herring scarves or the “rigodon final”.

At the height of the carnival, thousands of people flow through the streets of the city to get out of the sphere on the tones of traditional songs. The giants also take part in the carnival parade. In the evening there is a carnival ball, whose flamboyance never fails to disappoint.

Carnival of Nice’ Roi de l’ Espace’ (Côte d’ Azur) from 17 February to 3 March 2018

The best places in France to experience carnival, festival, carnival, France

Everyone knows the carnival of Venice or Rio, but did you know that the Carnival of Nice is also quite the spectacle to behold? Le Carnaval de Nice’ is the largest carnival in France!  Two weeks of celebration and parades with floats. It is wonderful to see, especially in the dark, even if you normally don’t like carnivals.  The Carnival of Nice attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators and party celebrants.  The program is extensive and varied: carnival processions, masquerades, floral parades, cavalcades, etc.  Each year a new title is chosen for His Majesty King Carnival and that title becomes the theme of the event and the inspiration for the “Ymagiers”.  In 2018, the theme will be the “Roi de l’ Espace”!

Carnival of Albi (Occitania) from 17 February to 3 March 2018

The best places in France to experience carnival, festival, carnival, France

This carnival is perhaps one of the oldest in France, although it has only been celebrated every year since 1951.  It is situated in the beautiful city of Albi, on the Tarn.  The celebrations commence when the mayor hands over the keys to the Queen of the Carnival.  The first evening procession consists of a parade of costume-clad beings and decorated trolleys, making their way through the city. This is the same for other carnival ceremonies such as the King’s cremation.

Carnival of Annecy (Savoie Mont Blanc) from 23 to 25 February 2018

The best places in France to experience carnival, festival, carnival, France

Annecy owes its reputation as the Venice of the Alps not only to its canals, waterways, and watercourses but also to its Venetian carnival, which is very popular in the region. Every year, hundreds of masked carnival celebrants travel through the streets of ancient Annecy to admire their colourful, baroque extravagance.   This Italian-feeling carnival is one of extreme beauty that shall be enjoyed by both young and old, who can admire the amazing craftsmanship of the costumes and masks.

Granville Carnival (Normandy) from 9 to 13 April 2018

The best places in France to experience carnival, festival, carnival, France

With more than 130 000 visitors each year, the Carnival of Granville is one of the largest in western France.  This popular event has been going on for more than a century and originated with the cod fishermen, who celebrated before they left at sea.  What makes this carnival one of a kind is it’s bizarre tradition of the “intrigues”! On Tuesday evening of the carnival, the disguised “intriggers”, essentially people in traditionally fancy-dress, parade through the city and go into bars, restaurants and even the residents’  homes to recount myths and legends of times gone by.

Go forth and enjoy some of the great carnivals that France has to offer!

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festivals in france

Top 5 Festivals in France

Here is a Top 5 Festivals in France organized in different categories so that whoever you are, you will undoubtedly find the one that suits you.

Let’s begin this Top 5 Festivals in France with our first category: classical music.

1. Classical Music / Opera

festivals in franceThe first festival you shouldn’t miss is called “Les Chorégies d’Orange”. It happens every summer in the antique theatre of the city of Orange, and the beauty of the arena combined with the quality of the opera make it a must-see if you are fond of classical music.

There is also the “Festival de l’Opéra en plein air”, which happens in different places every year to perform one particular opera. Aimed towards making every generation discover classical music and promoting new lyrical artists, no doubt the “open air” frame is also part of its success…festivals in france

Finally, we advise you to attend the “International Piano Festival of the Roque d’Anthéron” which takes place every summer around Aix en Provence, in the French Riviera. Open air too, it is one of the most famous lyrical festival.


2. Pop Rock Musicfestivals in france

If you are fond of pop rock music and want to dance, you should go to the Vieilles Charrues Festival which takes places every July in Brittany. Gathering different types of music such as rock and electro, everybody can enjoy a great moment in one of the biggest European Festival.

Likewise, you shouldn’t miss the Solidays of Paris, organized every June and above festivals in franceall aimed at raising people’s awareness about sexual diseases (mostly AIDS). From electro to rock music, this festival is a great united meeting of young people.

If you want to discover French pop artists, head to the Francofolies in La Rochelle. The aim is to spread French current music, whatever generation you belong to.


3. Drama / Theatrefestivals in france

The more important drama festival of Europe is definitely the Festival d’Avignon, happening every summer. The most famous stage is located in the open air “Cour d’honneur du Palais des papes”, and although dramatic arts seem to reign, it offers other types such as dance or fine arts with artists from all over the world.

If you go to France in June to visitfestivals in france the castles of the Loire Valley, don’t miss the Festival d’Anjou. Many plays are staged in historical sites of the region, so that you will enjoy the beauty of the castles like the Plessis-Macé Castle along with dozens of drama shows.

In June again, Versailles organises the “Molière month” in its sumptuous place. The festival houses more than 300 open air shows, especially of theatre arts, but also living arts shows with dance or circus… And many entrances are for free !


4. Cinema

festivals in france

The most famous festival of the world, the Festival de Cannes takes place in the French Riviera to reward the best movie, actor/actress, and filmmaker of the year. The ceremony of the “Red Carpet Walk” is watched all over the world to see the stars in their fancy outfits, and the surroundings offer outstanding views over the Mediterranean Sea, which gives the Festival a touch of fairy.

french riviera, festivals in franceThe Festival du film américain de Deauville, entirely dedicated to American movies, takes place in September. It has received very famous movie stars so far, from Robert de Niro to John Travolta. There is even a competition between independent movies so that you can enjoy every type of American cinematographic production.

Finally, and on a very different note, Gérardmer houses in the Vosges the International Festival of Fantastic Movies every winter, in which Fantastic has the place of honor in cinema as in other arts.


5. Carnival & Live artsfestivals in france

The last category of our Top 5 Festivals in France will make you party, especially in the Carnival of Dunkerque. Starting in January for three crazy months, it is one of the most famous in Europe because of the mass it gathers and the party atmosphere it spreads. From parades to balls, be sure you will have a very joyful, colourful and musical moment!

festivals in franceThe Carnival of Nice is, as for him, the biggest carnival of France. During the month of February, many floats decorated in the chosen theme of the year file in the streets of Nice, within a crazy party atmosphere.

To remain in this festive theme, we suggest you attend the Clécy Festival in Normandy. Different from carnivals, it remains a very joyful event which live arts will please every type of public with drama, music, and tale shows. This festival is the best compromise to get your fill of party atmosphere in less crowded places than carnivals.


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