Monte Carlo Motor Rally (Le Rallye de Monte Carlo). The world’s most venerable car race. Mid-January. www.acm.mc


Carnival of Nice. Parades, music, fireworks, and “Les Batailles des Fleurs” (Battles of the Flowers) are all part of this celebration. The climax is the burning of the Carnival king effigy. Late February to early March. www.nicecarnaval.com


International Ready-to-Wear Fashion Shows (Le Salon International de Prêt-à-Porter). Tapis Rouge, 67 rue du Faubourg St-Martin, Paris. See what you’ll be wearing next season. Early March; also held late September. www.capsuleshow.com


Foire du Trône, on the Reuilly Lawn of the Bois de Vincennes, 12e, Paris. This mammoth fun fair operates daily from noon to midnight. Early April to late May. www.foiredutrone.com

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 


Cannes Film Festival (Festival International du Film). Movie madness transforms this Mediterranean town into a media circus. Admission to films and parties is by invitation. Other films play 24 hours a day. Mid-May. www.festival-cannes.com

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; last one was in 2016. April to September. www.normandie-impressionniste.eu

Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix. The world’s most high-tech cars race through Monaco’s narrow streets in a blizzard of hot metal and ritzy architecture. Late May. www.formula1.com

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. The French Open features two weeks of men’s, women’s, and doubles tennis on hot, red, dusty clay courts. Late May to early June. www.rolandgarros.com


Prix du Jockey Club and Prix Diane-Longines, Hippodrome de Chantilly. Thoroughbreds from as far away as Kentucky and Dubai 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. Early to mid-June. www.france-galop.com

Paris Air Show. France’s military-industrial complex shows off its high-tech hardware. Fans, competitors, and industrial spies mob Le Bourget Airport. Next event mid-June 2015. www.paris-air-show.com

Catalpa Festival, Auxerre. This 3-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

French Formula 1 Grand Prix. The classic track at Le Castellet near Toulon, where previous winners have included Jackie Stewart and Alain Prost, became the new home of the French Grand Prix in 2018. Mid-June. www.formula1.com

Les 24 Heures du Mans Voitures. Racing cars blast around the clock at this venerable circuit. Also hosts the huge September motorcycle rally. Mid-June. www.24h-lemans.com

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


Fêtes Médiévales, Bayeaux. The Middle Ages come to life as many of Normandy’s picturesque towns put on lively medieval festivals. The biggest and most spectacular is in Bayeux. Costumed performers fill the streets alongside market stalls, medieval games for kids, and colorful jousters. First weekend of July. www.bayeux.fr

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. Early July to early August. www.choregies.fr

Les Nocturnes du Mont-St-Michel. This sound-and-light tour meanders through the stairways and corridors of one of Europe’s most impressive medieval monuments. Early July to late August. www.ot-montsaintmichel.com

Colmar International Festival, Colmar. Classical concerts are held in public buildings of one of the most folkloric towns in Alsace. Early July. www.festival-colmar.com

Tour de France. The world’s most hotly contested bicycle race sends crews of wind-tunnel–tested athletes along an itinerary that detours deep into the Pyrenees, Alps, Provence, and Normandy. The finish line is on the Champs-Elysées. First 3 weeks of July. www.letour.fr

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. Last three weeks of July. www.festival-avignon.com

Bastille Day. Celebrating the birth of modern-day France, the nation’s festivities reach their peak with country-wide street fairs, 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 four weeks, music rules around the city. Two-dozen French and international performances take place at unusual venues like the Musée de Cluny, the Gare du Nord, and the Parc de Belleville. Mid-July to mid-August. www.quartierdete.com

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) in place Masséna and the Jardin Albert 1er, overlooking Nice’s promenade des Anglais. Mid-July. www.nicejazzfestival.fr

Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. A musical event par excellence, with everything from Gregorian chants to operas composed on synthesizers. Recitals are in the medieval cloister of the Cathédrale St-Sauveur. Expect heat, crowds, and loud sounds. July. www.festival-aix.com

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. Early August. www.festival-interceltique.com

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 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 included 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 also one of its most eclectic, focusing mainly on modern music, ballet, theater, and art. Mid-September to mid-January. www.festival-automne.com

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 2019. www.orleans.fr


Paris Auto Show, Parc des Expositions, Porte de Versailles, 15e, Paris. This biennial showcase for European car design comes complete with glitzy attendees, lots of hype, and the latest models. Mid-October; next in 2018. www.mondial-automobile.com

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. Early October. www.prixarcdetriomphe.com


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 


Boat Fair (Le Salon Nautique de Paris). Europe’s major exposition of what’s afloat, at Porte de Versailles. One week in early December. www.salonnautiqueparis.com

Fête de Lumières, Lyon. In honor of the Virgin Mary, lights are placed in windows throughout the city. Early December. www.fetedelumieres.lyon.fr

Fête de St-Sylvestre (New Year’s Eve), nationwide. In Paris, this holiday is most boisterously celebrated in the Latin Quarter. 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.