Popular Events in France (or very close to France!) through 2013

Posted on: November 18th, 2012 by Bruno

Below is a sampling of events happening throughout France in 2013, in chronological order by event type. Click on event headers to visit the event’s website. Mark your calendars in case you want to attend (or avoid the crowds)!

Sporting Events

Map showing the route of the 100th Tour de France

The 100th Tour de France is one of the most important events taking place in France in 2013.

The Vendée Globe Race: November 2012-January 2013

Every four years, sailors compete in the world-famous Vendée Globe sailing race that begins at Sables-d’Olonne in the Vendée department. Their mission is to round the Cape of Good Hope, sail on past Cape Leeuwin, turn north after rounding Cape Horn, and complete the global circuit to France unassisted, without stopping. The competition begins on November 10 and lasts about 85 days, so the region will be on its toes through the end of January 2013.

The Paris Marathon: April 7

The Paris Marathon ranks in the top 5 marathons worldwide along with New York, London, Berlin and Chicago. Each year, over 40,000 participants run 42.195 km (26.2 miles) through the City of Light, and even greater numbers descend on Paris to cheer the runners on. If you plan on spending April in Paris, please note that the 37th annual Paris Marathon will take place on April 7.

Mont Saint Michel Bay Marathon: May 5

On May 5, roughly 5,000 runners will take off from Cançale and follow a coastal route to the beautiful island abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel as part of the 16th annual Marathon of the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel. If you happen to be in Normandy or Brittany and you enjoy cheering on athletes, you couldn’t ask for a better event in a more beautiful location.

The French Open, aka Roland-Garros: May 21-June 9

Tennis, the most essential of French sports, is taken to a new level at this famous international tournament. Matches will be held from May 21 to June 9 at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris. Book your tickets online if you wish to attend a match!

24 Hours of Le Mans: June 15-16

If you love automobile racing, you may be familiar with the “24h du Mans”, the world’s oldest active sports car race. Since 1923, teams of the world’s best drivers have been racing their cars for 24 hours straight on the road circuit in Le Mans. In 2013, they’ll complete their 24 drive on June 15-16.

100th Tour de France: June 29-July 21

In 2013, the Tour de France will be celebrating its 100th anniversary! You won’t want to miss this monumental cycling race, which will stretch from June 29 to July 21. For the first time in its history, the tour will begin on Corsica. After three stages on the island, the riders will fly to Nice for stage four and the rest of the mainland courses.

Evian Masters: September 12-15

From September 12-15, the world’s best professional women golfers will convene at Evian-les-Bains on the shores of Lake Geneva and compete for the trophy at the well-sponsored Evian Masters tournament.


Cultural Events

Marseille, 2013 European Capital of Culture: year-round beginning January 12

Marseille has been named the 2013 European Capital of Culture! Starting on January 12, the city will host a number of cultural events throughout the year, including concerts, exhibitions, and festivals. These events will take place in historic sites as well as brand-new locations built specifically for the year’s festivities by renowned architects. Click here for a full list of happenings.

Major Exhibitions in Paris: year-round

Traveling to Paris or somewhere nearby in 2013? There are numerous art exhibits and concerts scheduled that you won’t want to miss, like Salvador Dali at the Pompidou Center or Raphael at the Louvre. Click the title link for a full list.

La Percée du Vin Jaune (Breakthrough Vin Jaune): February 2-3

This popular wine-centered gathering has been attracting large crowds in the Jura region since 1996. On February 2 and 3, visitors will be introduced to delicious yellow wines produced in the region while a large wine auction is conducted simultaneously. Guest can enjoy wine blessing ceremonies and other forms of entertainment.

Normandy Impressionist Festival

The first Normandy Impressionist Festival, a series of exhibits of works by great regional painters like Monet, was incredibly successful in 2010. For the festival’s second run, the organizers decided on a water theme; from April 27 to September 29, you can see how artists interpret this theme at several exhibits in upper and lower Normandy. Le Havre, Rouen, Caen and Fécamp are hosting the major exhibitions.

Cannes Film Festival: May 15-26

Young starlets, aging legends and debuting directors descend upon the Cote d’Azur each year to participate in the splendorous Cannes Film Festival, which is as much a celebration of the industry as it is a film competition. Swing by Cannes from May 15 – 26 and you could get the inside scoop on the best movie of 2013!

Geneva Open Cellars Day (Switzerland): Mid-May

The area around Lake Geneva produces delicious, yet little-known wines in rolling fields set against a backdrop of sparkling lake water and snow-capped mountains. During one mid-May weekend, over 90 wineries in Switzerland will open their doors to guests and offer samples of their newest vintage, along with other delicious local products. Check here or on the title link for updates.

The Nights of Fourvière: June-July

If you love music, theatre, dance and film and happen to be traveling to Lyon between early June and late July, you’re in luck! The Nights of Fourvière festival – 2013 dates have yet to be announced – is sure to dazzle you. Many productions during the Nights of Fourvière are held in an ancient Roman amphitheatre, creating an unforgettable blend of history and pop culture.

La Fête de Musique (Music Festival): June 21

In 1982, France’s former Minister of Culture Jack Lang devised a unique way to celebrate the summer solstice: an annual music celebration held in Paris. Since then, many musicians have volunteered their time and talent to give free performances in the streets and open-air parks in many French cities every June 21!

Avignon Festival: July

Throughout the month of July, artists showcase theatrical works ranging from Shakespeare to contemporary pieces during the Avignon Festival, as they have since 1947. Visitors to the southern city of Avignon are able to buy tickets to performances held in unusual outdoor locales, such as the Pope’s Palace.

Fêtes de Bayonne: late July

Close to Spain in the Pyrenées-Atlantiques region of France, the city of Bayonne shares some traditions with its Basque neighbors. For one week in late July, visitors to Bayonne will wonder if they’ve stumbled into Pamplona – everyone at the festival will be wearing white with red accents, and they’ll be cheering at cow races and bullfights. This important festival also includes traditional balls, street dance parties, and church masses. Check here in the future for 2013 dates (in French).

Festival of Lights: December 8

Every year on December 8, the city of Lyon is illuminated! Famous buildings and monuments are lit up with stunning video projections or lighting arrangements, while the city’s residents place candles in their windows. Originally a religious procession dating back to 1852, the festival is now a large outdoor event with street food and performances.

Opening of the Cave of Chauvet-Pont-D’Arc: 2014 

France is home to a number of prehistoric caves, but each is an important heritage site. The Cave of Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc in the Ardèche, which was discovered in 1994, houses wall paintings dating back 35,000 years! To protect this unique find, the government decided to build a reproduction of the cave – identical to the original – so that the public could enjoy an important piece of history without causing it harm. The reproduction cave will be opening in 2014, not far from the real cave site. Be on the lookout for updates near the end of 2013!

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