Monte Carlo Motor Rally (Le Rallye de Monte Carlo). The world's most venerable car race. For information, call the Monaco Tourist Office (tel. 377/93-15-26-00; www.acm.mc). Mid-January.
Carnival of Nice. Parades, boat races, music, balls, and fireworks are all part of this celebration. The climax is the 114-year tradition of burning King Carnival in effigy, after Les Batailles des Fleurs (Battles of the Flowers), when teams pelt each other with blooms. For details, contact the Nice Convention and Visitors Bureau (tel. 08-92-70-74-07; fax 04-92-14-46-49; www.nicecarnaval.com). Late February to early March.
International Ready-to-Wear Fashion Shows (Le Salon International de Prêt-à-Porter), Parc des Expositions, Porte de Versailles, 15e, Paris. See what you'll be wearing next season. Call tel. 01-44-94-70-00, or visit www.pretparis.com. Early March; also held late September.
Foire du Trône, on the Reuilly Lawn of the Bois de Vincennes, 12e, Paris. This mammoth amusement park operates daily from 2pm to midnight. Call tel. 01-46-27-52-29, or visit www.foiredutrone.com. End of March to end of May.International Marathon of Paris. Runners from around the world compete. Call tel. 01-41-33-14-00, or visit www.parismarathon.com. Early April to late May.
International Garden Festival,Château de Chaumont, Amboise (Loire). An international competition showcasing the best in garden design. Mid-April to mid-October. www.domaine-chaumont.fr
International Marathon of Paris. Runners from around the world compete along the Champs-Elysées. Early April. www.parismarathon.com
Vin’Estival,Mâcon. France’s largest wine tourism festival allows visitors to learn about and taste the wines of the Mâconnais and Beaujolais regions. There is also a competition to find France’s best Grand Vin. www.vinestival.com
Les 24 Heures du Mans Moto. This motorcycle race is on a grueling 4km (2 1/2-mile) circuit 4.5km (2 3/4 miles) south of Le Mans. For information, call l'Automobile Club de l'Ouest (tel. 02-43-40-24-24) or the Le Mans Ticket Office (tel. 04-73-91-85-75; www.lemans.org). Mid-April.
Antiques Show, Paris. The annual Cinq Jours de l'Objet Extraordinaire show features more than 100 galleries and antiques stores displaying their collections in seven streets on the Left Bank, Carré Rive Gauche. For information, call tel. 01-42-60-70-10, or visit www.carrerivegauche.com. Mid-May to early June.
Cannes Film Festival (Festival International du Film). Movie madness transforms this city into a media circus. Admission to the films in competition is by invitation only. Other films play 24 hours a day. Contact the Festival International du Film, 3 rue Amélie, 75007 Paris (tel. 01-53-59-61-00; www.festival-cannes.org). Two weeks before the festival, its administration moves to the Palais des Festivals, esplanade Georges-Pompidou, Cannes 06400. Mid-May.
Normandy Impressionist Festival. New region-wide event that showcases the area’s favorite painters (Monet, Manet, Signac) in museums across Normandy, held every 2 to 3 years. May to September. www.normandie-impressionniste.eu
Monaco Grand Prix de Formule. Hundreds of cars race through the narrow streets and winding roads in a blend of high-tech machinery and medieval architecture. Call tel. 377/93-15-26-00 or 377/92-16-61-16, or visit www.formula1.com. Late May.
Coupes Moto Légende, Dijon. Thousands of motorcyclists, including well-known names, descend upon Dijon to race their vintage bikes around the Prenois track. Late May. www.coupes-moto-legende.fr
Festival de St-Denis. A celebration of music in the burial place of the French kings, a grim early Gothic monument in Paris’s northern suburb of St-Denis. Late May to late June. www.festival-saint-denis.com
French Open Tennis Championship, Stade Roland-Garros, 16e, Paris (Métro: Porte d'Auteuil). The open features 10 days of men's, women's, and doubles tennis on the hot, red, dusty courts. For information, call tel. 01-47-43-48-00, or visit www.rolandgarros.com. Late May to early June.
Prix du Jockey Club and Prix Diane-Hermès, Hippodrome de Chantilly. Thoroughbreds from as far away as Kentucky and Brunei compete in this race. On race days, dozens of trains depart from Paris's Gare du Nord for Chantilly, where racegoers take free shuttle buses to the track. Call tel. 01-49-10-20-30, or visit www.france-galop.com for information on these and other Chantilly events. Early June.
Cinéscénie de Puy du Fou, son-et-lumière, Château du Puy du Fou, Les Epesses (La Vendée), Brittany. A cast of 2,500 actors, dozens of horses, and laser shows celebrate the achievements of the Middle Ages. Call tel. 02-51-64-11-11, or visit www.puydufou.com. Early June to early September.
Festival de St-Denis. A surge of music in the burial place of the French kings, a grim early Gothic monument in Paris's northern suburb of St-Denis. Call tel. 01-48-13-06-07, or visit www.festival-saint-denis.fr. Early June to July.
Paris Air Show. France's military-industrial complex shows off its high-tech hardware. Fans, competitors, and industrial spies mob Le Bourget Airport. Call tel. 01-53-23-33-16, or visit www.paris-air-show.com. Next is mid-June 2015.
Catalpa Festival,Auxerre. This three-night world music festival takes place in various venues around town including the atmospheric surrounds of the cloister of the Abbaye Saint-Germain. www.lesilex.fr
Les 24 Heures du Mans Voitures, for stock cars, is in the same circuit as the April motorcycle rally, but on a 13km (8-mile) radius. For information, call l'Automobile Club de l'Ouest (tel. 02-43-40-25-55), or contact the Le Mans Ticket Office (tel. 08-92-69-72-24; www.24h-lemans.com). Mid-June.
Festival Chopin, Paris. Everything you’ve ever wanted to hear by the Polish exile, who lived most of his life in Paris. Piano recitals take place in the Orangerie du Parc de Bagatelle, 16e. Mid-June to mid-July. www.frederic-chopin.com
Gay Pride Parade, place du 18 Juin 1940 to place de la Bastille, Paris. A week of expositions and parties climaxes in a parade patterned after those in New York and San Francisco. Late June. www.gaypride.fr
Colmar International Festival, Colmar. Classical concerts are held in public buildings of one of the most folkloric towns in Alsace. Call tel. 03-89-20-68-97, or visit www.festival-colmar.com. Early July.
Les Chorégies d'Orange, Orange. One of southern France's most important lyric festivals presents oratorios, operas, and choral works in France's best-preserved Roman amphitheater. Call tel. 04-90-34-24-24, or visit www.choregies.fr. Early July to early August.
Fête Chopin, Paris. Everything you've ever wanted to hear by the Polish exile, who lived most of his life in Paris. Piano recitals take place in the Orangerie du Parc de Bagatelle, 16e. Call tel. 01-45-00-22-19, or visit www.frederic-chopin.com. Early July.
Les Nocturnes du Mont-St-Michel. This is a sound-and-light tour through the stairways and corridors of one of Europe's most impressive medieval monuments. Call tel. 02-33-60-14-30, or check out www.ot-montsaintmichel.com for more information. Performances are Monday through Saturday evenings from early July to late August.
Tour de France. Europe's most hotly contested bicycle race sends crews of wind tunnel-tested athletes along an itinerary that detours deep into the Massif Central and ranges across the Alps. The finish line is on the Champs-Elysées. Call tel. 01-41-33-14-00, or visit www.letour.fr. First 3 weeks of July.
Festival d'Avignon. This world-class festival has a reputation for exposing new talent to critical scrutiny and acclaim. The focus is usually on avant-garde works in theater, dance, and music. Many of the dance and theater performances take place in either the 14th-century courtyard of the Palais des Pâpes or the medieval Cloître (cloister) des Carmes. For information, call tel. 04-90-27-66-50, or visit www.festival-avignon.com. Last 3 weeks of July.
Bastille Day. Celebrating the birth of modern-day France, the nation's festivities reach their peak in Paris with street fairs, pageants, fireworks, and feasts. In Paris, the day begins with a parade down the Champs-Elysées and ends with fireworks at Montmartre. July 14.
Paris Quartier d'Eté. For 4 weeks, music rules the Arènes de Lutèce and the Cour d'Honneur at the Sorbonne, both in the Quartier Latin. The dozen or so concerts are grander than the outdoorsy setting; they include performances by the Orchestre de Paris, the Orchestre National de France, and the Baroque Orchestra of the European Union. Call tel. 01-44-94-98-00, or visit www.quartierdete.com. Mid-July to mid-August.
Nice Jazz Festival. The most prestigious jazz festival in Europe. Concerts begin in the afternoon and go on until late at night (sometimes all night) on the Arènes de Cimiez, a hill above the city. Contact the Nice Tourist Office (tel. 08-92-70-75-07; www.nicejazzfestival.fr). Mid-July.
Festival d'Aix-en-Provence. A musical event par excellence, with everything from Gregorian chant to melodies composed on synthesizers. Recitals are in the medieval cloister of the Cathédrale St-Sauveur. Expect heat, crowds, and traffic. Contact the Festival International d'Art Lyrique et Académie Européenne de Musique (tel. 04-42-17-34-34; www.festival-aix.com). Throughout July.
Réncontre d’Arles. The prettiest town in Provence hosts a city-wide photography festival. Prepare to be wowed. July to September. www.rencontres-arles.com
Festival de Cornouaille, Quimper. An annual weeklong celebration of Breton culture. The festivities include parades in traditional costume and Celtic and Breton concerts throughout the city. Late July. www.festival-cornouaille.com
Festival Interceltique de Lorient, Brittany. Celtic verse and lore are celebrated in the Celtic heart of France. The 150 concerts include classical and folkloric musicians, dancers, singers, and painters. Traditional Breton pardons (religious processions) take place in the once-independent maritime duchy. Call tel. 02-97-21-24-29, or check www.festival-interceltique.com. Early August.
Musical Gatherings (Les Rencontres Musicales), Vézelay. Four days of classical music concerts held in several venues including the magnificent basilica. www.rencontresmusicalesdevezelay.com
Deauville American Film Festival. The likes of Clooney, Pitt, and Travolta jet in for a yearly celebration of movies, glitz, and glamour. First week in September. www.festival-deauville.com
La Villette Jazz Festival. Some 50 concerts are held in churches, auditoriums, and concert halls in the Paris suburb of La Villette. Past festivals have featured Kenny Garrett, Jamie Callum, and other international artists. Early to mid-September. www.jazzalavillette.com
Festival d'Automne, Paris. One of France's most famous festivals is one of its most eclectic, focusing mainly on modern music, ballet, theater, and art. Contact the Festival d'Automne (tel. 01-53-45-17-00; www.festival-automne.com). Mid-September to late December.
Festival de la Loire, Orléans (Loire). The Loire River and its banks come alive with sails, music, and food during the largest boat festival in Europe. Late September, every other year; next in 2015. www.orleans.fr
Paris Auto Show, Parc des Expositions, Porte de Versailles, 15e, Paris. This is the showcase for European car design, complete with glistening metal, glitzy attendees, lots of hype, and the latest models. Check Pariscope for details, or contact the French Government Tourist Office. You can also get information by calling tel. 01-56-88-22-40 or visiting www.mondial-automobile.com. Mid-October; next in 2016.
Perpignan Jazz Festival. Musicians from everywhere jam in what many consider Languedoc's most appealing season. Call tel. 04-68-35-37-46, or visit www.jazzebre.com. Month of October.
Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Hippodrome de Longchamp, 16e, Paris. France's answer to England's Ascot is the country's most prestigious horse race, culminating the equine season in Europe. Call tel. 01-49-10-20-30, or visit www.prixarcdetriomphe.com. Early October.
Armistice Day, nationwide. In Paris, the signing of the document that ended World War I is celebrated with a military parade from the Arc de Triomphe to the Hôtel des Invalides. November 11.
Dijon Gastronomy Fair (Foire gastronomique de Dijon). One of France’s biggest food fairs attracts around 600 exhibitors and 200,000 visitors each year. www.dijon-congrexpo.com
Hospices de Beaune Wine Auction (Vente des vins des Hospices de Beaune). Three days of wine tastings, street entertainment and a half marathon culminating in the world-famous charity wine auction. www.beaune-tourisme.fr
Christmas Fairs, Alsace (especially Strasbourg). More than 60 villages celebrate a traditional Christmas. The events in Strasbourg have continued for some 430 years. Other towns with celebrations are Münster, Sélestat, Riquewihr, Kaysersberg, Wissembourg, and Thann. Call tel. 03-89-24-73-50, or visit www.tourism-alsace.com. Late November to December 24.
The Boat Fair (Le Salon Nautique de Paris). Europe's major exposition of what's afloat, at Salon Nautique de Paris, 52-54 Quai de Dion-Bouton, 15e, Paris (tel. 01-47-56-50-00; www.salonnautiqueparis.com; Métro: Porte de Versailles). One week in early December.
Fête des Lumières, Lyon. In honor of the Virgin Mary, lights are placed in windows through the city. Call tel. 04-72-10-30-30, or visit www.fetedelumieres.lyon.fr
Marché de Noël, Mougins. About 40 merchants, selling all kinds of Christmas ornaments and gifts, descend on this small village in Provence. Call tel. 04-93-75-87-67, or visit www.mougins-coteazur.org. Early December.
Fête de St-Sylvestre (New Year's Eve), nationwide. In Paris, this holiday is most boisterously celebrated in the Quartier Latin. At midnight, the city explodes. Strangers kiss and boulevard St-Michel and the Champs-Elysées become virtual pedestrian malls. December 31.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.