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South of France Events

White sandy beaches and cerulean waters may seem like a cliché for coastlines, but in the case of the French Riviera it is a true description. Outlining the southernmost edge of France, the Riviera – immortalized in the 1955 film To Catch a Thief — is home to sun-dappled cities and lifestyles of luxury. But once you’ve managed to tear yourself away from the gorgeous coast, you’ll find yourself in the heart of Provence, the notable province in the south of the country. The Riviera is just a small section of this region, which includes the seaside cities of Nice and Marseilles. Further in you’ll discover mountains, inlets, lavender fields, and our favorite postcard villages in Southern France.

Provence is bordered by the Rhône River to the west, Italy to the east, Hautes-Alpes and Drône to the north, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. With a warm climate, Provence (and the Riviera) makes the perfect destination any time, but there are certain periods of the year where they truly shine. Here we’ve assembled a list of our top 10 favorite annual events in Provence, as wide-ranging and delightful as the province itself.

1. Lemon Festival, Menton

Image of the Lemon Festival The Lemon Festival is a feast for the eyes – and taste buds

Located in the “Cité des Citrons” – City of Lemons, for non-French speakers – the Lemon Festival is a visual feast and a pungent experience for your taste buds. Lasting throughout February and March, the festival displays hundreds of thousands of lemons, oranges and other citrus fruits shaped into astounding floats and sculptures in the spirit of each year’s theme. The city of Menton has been hosting this annual event since 1929 to advertise the region’s bountiful harvest, and the Lemon Festival has only grown in popularity over the course of its eight decades. We’d advise you to arrive by train; transportation hubs in Nice or Marseilles will connect you to the local lines leading to Menton. While you’re at the festival, be sure to visit the Salon de l’Artisanat, an arts and crafts showcase – some of the products (jams, soaps, fragrances) are bound to use the lemons that gave the fest its name! Here are some other artisanal souvenir suggestions from the area to get your shopping jump-started! Read the entire story here…»


A picture of fireworks and the Eiffel Tower on Bastille Day in Paris Bastille Day Fireworks ignite the skies near the Eiffel Tower in Paris

On Saturday July 14th 2012, Bastille Day will be celebrated not only in France but all over the world! One of France’s biggest holidays, there will be Bastille Day parades, parties and fireworks across the country.

A picture of the Arc de Triomphe and the French Tricolor Flag in Paris The French Tricolor Flag is displayed at the Arc de Triomphe for Bastille Day in Paris

Meanwhile, French expat communities and international Francophiles will hold their own celebrations in many different corners of the world. To give you an idea of the global celebrations, we’ll highlight 2012 Bastille Day festivities in four different cities. In this first part of the Bastille Day series, we’ll start off with Paris in Northern France and Nice in Southern France. In the second part, we’ll take you across the English Channel to London and then across the Atlantic to end with Bastille Day in New York City!

Le Quatorze Juillet

Bastille Day is a French National holiday (La Fête Nationale), which has been celebrated for over a century. Contrary to popular belief, Bastille Day doesn’t actually celebrate the storming of the Bastille. Instead, it commemorates the Fête de la Fédération of 1790, which was a huge feast held one year after the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789. The feast celebrated the new constitutional monarchy and the general notion of liberty in France. Even though the constitutional monarchy was short-lived and was followed by many turbulent periods, about a century later in 1880, it was decided that the 14th of July would become a national holiday. The French often refer to the holiday simply as “le quatorze Juillet”. Read the entire story here…»


A picture of a theater show at the Palace of the Popes for the Festival d’Avignon A Festival d’Avignon theater performance in the courtyard of the Palace of the Popes

If you’re a theater lover then the Festival d’Avignon is definitely the place to be this summer! One of the oldest surviving festivals in the world, the theater festival transforms the entire city of Avignon to one big culture fest for three whole weeks. Avignon Festival will take place from July 7th to July 28th in one of the most beautiful historic cities in the South of France. In this article we’ll highlight both the official Festival d’Avignon and the fringe theater festival “Off” that takes place alongside the Avignon Festival. Together, these two festivals will hold over a 1000 shows in less than one month this year. July will be a busy month in Avignon!

Read the entire story here…»


"Le Nozze di Figaro" is being performed at the Festival d'Art Lyrique of Aix-en-Provence A performance of "Le Nozze di Figaro" at the Festival d'Art Lyrique of Aix-en-Provence

If you’re a music lover and a Francophile, summer’s arrival can only mean one thing: it is time to pack up and head for Aix-en-Provence, where the Festival International d’Art Lyrique (International Festival of Lyrical Art) is taking place this year from July 5 to 27. Since its modest beginning in 1947 with a few low-key concerts and one opera (the at the time little known Cosí fan tutte), it has constantly evolved and now includes prestigious orchestras, like the Berlin Philharmonic, big name composers and conductors like Pierre Boulez and Simon Rattle, as well as numerous ground-breaking productions ranging from modern takes on classics to specially commissioned works. Furthermore, master classes, panel discussions and other social events have been added. Read the entire story here…»


Nimes, in Provence, France The arena of Nimes, in Provence, France

If you’re in the process of planning your summer vacation and hope to beat the crowds, there are many choices in the South of France. Nîmes is one of the best for sure! Famous for its arenas, and the charming musicality of its inhabitant’s language, this city definitely is a must-see in Provence. This summer, the festivities are starting mid-June with the “Chants d’attraction” festival. The events will offer to the visitors an array of musical and cultural shows with international performers, exhibits such as “Picasso, Nîmes et les toros”, light spectacles, wine tastings, outdoor movies and so much more! Read the entire story here…»


If you’re looking for an excuse to treat yourself to a trip to Cannes, France in a few weeks, we can actually give you not one but two: The Cannes Film Festival, May 16-27, and the Cannes International Festival of Creativity, also known as the Cannes Lions, June 13-27.

Cannes harbor at night Cannes harbor at night

By far one of the most famous festivals in the world, The prestigious Cannes Film Festival will delight the cinema lovers one more time in May with its wide range of events such as the official competition, Un certain regard, out of competition selection, special screenings, short films, documentaries, classics, tributes, and films directed by the students of the cinéfondation. Read the entire story here…»


Antibes Antibes

Are you passionate about France and antiques? Then get ready to pack and head for Antibes’s Art Fair where the focus this year is on “Antiquités & Art Moderne” (Antiques & Modern Art). On the occasion of its 40th anniversary, the popular event, which takes place between April 7 and 23, promises to be more exciting than ever. Not only will you be able to check out myriads of second-hand treasures, but you’ll also get to marvel at some furniture, artworks and paintings created by the most prestigious contemporary artists

The organizers haven’t held back on anything, and the huge tent specially set up near the harbor will become the space in which numerous stands will be installed and decorated to look like real art galleries. In this paradise for beauty lovers, you will be able to admire some of the most stunning art pieces currently on the international market and mingle with over 100 exhibitors from France and abroad. Whether you’re there for business or pleasure, the Antibes Art Fair will be an exceptional experience and a lasting memory. Read the entire story here…»


Aix-en-Provence Aix-en-Provence

Comics’ fans rejoice… and hurry to Aix-en-Provence where the Comics Fair is taking place during the months of March and April. More famous for its high-brow opera festival that takes place every summer, the urbane city of Aix does not mind letting its hair down in the spring for the “Rencontres du 9e Art” (Encounters of the 9th Art). Possibly driven by the free-spiritedness of the student population attending the prestigious local university, or simply by a deep-rooted appreciation of the popular comics, Aix has opened the doors of its museums, galleries, schools and libraries to the world of comic books and strips.

Whether you’re already a die-hard aficionado or just an open-minded learner, you just cannot miss such a golden opportunity to mingle with established and budding authors, corporate publishing houses and independent publishers, like-minded amateurs and curious novices. Read the entire story here…»


Figure Skater Figure Skater

For the amateurs of beauty in all its forms, why not treat yourself to a special vacation during which you will be able to indulge in stunning sport activities in a no less stunning natural setting? That is just what you can do if you fly over to Nice for the ISU World Figure Skating Championships, which will take place from March 26 to April 1 at the Palais des Expositions and the Palais des Sports Jean-Bouin, located right next to each other.

In either venue you will be able to marvel at the flexibility and grace of the crème de la crème of competitive figure skaters from all over the world in a variety of programs. Whether you prefer Free Skating, Short Dance or Free Dance, there is no doubt that these incredible skaters, who have achieved the impressive combination of athletic feats and artistic talent, will delight you with their performances, and maybe even inspire you to venture on the ice yourself.

Once you’ve had your fill of the action in the cold environment, why not marvel at the action happening in the warm capital of the French Riviera? The must-see neighborhood for many visitors is the Vieux Nice, the colorful Old Town where Baroque architecture, small specialty shops and precious art galleries endlessly adorn the narrow streets. When you decide to come out for space and light, you cannot miss the world-famous daily flower market, which becomes an antiques market on Monday, on Cours Saleya. Because it is so hard to take it all in the first time around, feel free to go back and have more fun. Read the entire story here…»


Monaco Monaco

Spring is a many-splendid thing indeed, and even more so in Monaco, where the famous Printemps des Arts festival will celebrate nature’s rebirth with many festivities over the course of four weekends from March 16 to April 8, 2012.

It will all start with an Accordion Night three evenings in a row, presenting music from Brittany, Italy, Ireland and the Basque Country. The following weekend, the focus will be on the tambourine with a concert featuring musicians from Brazil, India, Italy and Egypt. For many, however, the highlight of the whole festival may very well be the “Journée surprenante” (Surprising Day), during which everybody is welcome to the Auditorium Rainer II where all kinds of performances and discussions will unfold all day long. Read the entire story here…»