For an exhaustive list of events beyond those listed here, check http://events.frommers.com, where you'll find a searchable, up-to-the-minute roster of what's happening in cities all over the world.
January Sales. Over 1,000 shops, from boutiques to grands magasins, participate in the January sales, offering discounts as high as 70%. Sales are standardized in France, meaning shops can only open to bargain-hunters on authorized days, so if you want to grab the goods before anybody else, be there when the doors open (usually 10am). Sales begin around January 11 and last until mid-February.
International Circus Festival of Tomorrow. The annual International Circus Festival of Tomorrow at Paris's Pelouse de Reuilly (Métro: Liberté) offers the chance to catch the world's finest circuses under one roof. Young artists from such diverse schools as the Beijing Circus, the Moscow Circus, and France's own Ecole Fratellini compete at the festival in a bid to discover the stars of the future. To book, call tel. 01-40-55-50-56; www.cirquededemain.com. Four days at the end of January.
International Agricultural Show. Every February, the terroir (France's countryside) comes to Paris for the International Agricultural Show at the Porte de Versailles. It's a real institution (even the French president makes an official call) with exhibits featuring the top models of the animal world, meaty gastronomic delicacies from 22 French regions, leisure, hunting, and fishing displays. Order tickets in advance online at www.salon-agriculture.com or call tel. 01-49-20-45-12. Mid-February.
Six Nations Rugby. France faces its European rivals (England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and Italy) in the Six Nations rugby union internationals at the humongous Stade de France. The championship is the oldest rugby tournament in the world, having existed in one form or another for 120 years. Since the advent of the Six Nations, France has been the most successful country, so come along and see whether they can be beaten on home territory. Check www.stadedefrance.com or www.rbs6nations.com for information. February and March.
Paris Carnival. The annual Carnaval de Paris goes by many names, including the Pantruche Carnaval, the Saint-Fargeau, and the Promenade du Boeuf Gras (Fat Cow Parade). Led by the Fat Cow herself (yes, an actual cow), it revives an age-old tradition begun in 1274. Cheerful Parisians, trumpeters, and other musicians parade through the capital's streets to the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall). Carnival buildup usually begins 1:30pm at Place Gambetta, and leaves at 3pm, arriving at the town hall at 7pm. For information, see www.carnavaldeparis.org. First Sunday of March.
Banlieues Blues. This annual music festival, in Paris's northern suburb of St-Denis, brings top-notch jazz and blues names to the traditionally culture-hungry suburbs. It's a fine way to discover lesser-known theaters as your feet swing to the sound of top-notch international musicians. Visit www.banlieuesbleues.org. Mid-March to mid-April.
Festival Chorus. Paris's Festival Chorus brings rock, pop, and French chanson to dozens of venues across the western Hauts-de-Seine suburb with some 120 artists taking part in more than 80 different concerts. The main stage is the Magic Mirror, an old-fashioned, circus-style big-top set on the esplanade between La Defense's modern towers. Buy tickets in advance by calling tel. 01-47-74-64-64; www.chorus92.fr. Two weeks from mid- to late-March.
Paris Marathon. The Paris Marathon offers runners the chance to take in some of the city's most famous landmarks (cheered on by thousands of spectators), including the Champs-Élysées, the Tuileries garden, and Place de la Bastille. If you'd like to get your kids involved, there is a 1.5km (1 mile) breakfast run for kids 5 to 10 years old, La Course du P'tit Déj, held the day before the marathon. Register for both online at www.parismarathon.com. One Sunday in April.
Salon des Réalités Nouvelles. The Parc Floral brings abstract art to the fore at its annual Salon des Réalités Nouvelles. More than 400 French and international avant-garde artists reveal the latest trends in the abstract world through their striking creations, which range from paintings and photos to weird and wonderful sculptures and installations. Once you've had your fill, the colorful flower beds of the Parc Floral beckon. For information, visit www.realitesnouvelles.org. Mid-April.
Foire du Trône. Europe's largest temporary carnival, the Foire du Trône at the Pelouse de Reuilly attracts around five million visitors every year. Though it has roots stretching from the 12th century, since the 1950s the event has grown to epic proportions -- every year, visitors down enough beer to fill an Olympic swimming pool. With its flashing lights, pumping music, freak shows, and greasy aromas, the Foire du Trône is a world away from the cultural clichés of the French capital, and sometimes that is the best thing about it. Visit www.foiredutrone.com. Early April to the end of May.
Nuit des Musées. During the Nuit des Musées (Museum Night), the city's museums stay open until 1am, offering you a chance to see the Louvre, and hundreds more, for free. For information, visit http://nuitdesmusees.culture.fr. One Saturday mid-May.
St-Germain-des-Prés Jazz Festival. The Rive Gauche, Paris's traditional jazz quarter, swings as local and international musicians perform at this jazz festival. Playing everything from boogie-woogie to blues, free concerts are held in St-Germain square with ticketed concerts taking place in local libraries, cafes, concerts halls, and bars. Visit www.festivaljazzsaintgermainparis.com. Two weeks in May.
The French Open. For 2 weeks the world's best tennis players battle it out on Roland Garros's clay courts. The event is one of France's biggest sports competitions, so book in advance for a decent seat. The main matches are the most expensive, so if you want to save money, watch the unseeded players on the smaller courts -- you could be watching the tennis stars of the future. Visit www.fft.fr/rolandgarros. Mid-May to early June.
Paris Wine Fair. Paris's Palais Brongniart (the city's beautiful neoclassical, former stock-exchange building) is the setting for the annual Salon de la Revue du Vin de France (French Wine Fair). Professionals and enthusiasts gather over 2 days to sample the country's best wines and some 200 winemakers attend -- it's the perfect opportunity for you to learn how to tell your Bordeaux from your Bourgogne and build up your own dream cellar. Visit www.larvf.com. Mid-May.
Jardin Shakespeare. Every year the Jardin Shakespeare in Paris's Bois de Boulogne hosts an open-air theater festival. Plays by the bard are performed in French and English, as well as works by other playwrights and the occasional concert or opera. The Jardin Shakespeare is so-called because of its five miniature gardens, each named after a Shakespearean work -- Macbeth, Hamlet, The Tempest, As You Like It, and A Midsummer Night's Dream -- and you won't find a more charming spot for a summer night's entertainment. For information call tel. 01-40-19-95-33; www.jardinshakespeare.fr. June to September.
Paris Jazz Festival. This annual summer event presents a program of free jazz concerts in the beautiful surroundings of the Parc Floral. Gigs take place every Saturday and Sunday throughout June and July. The concerts begin at 3pm and are free to all those who have paid the standard park entry fee. Arrive early to ensure that you get one of the 1,500 seats available, or pack a picnic and bask by the park's miniature lake. Visit www.parisjazzfestival.fr. June to July.
Fête de la Musique. In Paris for the Fête de la Musique? Everywhere you go you'll hear music, from opera and jazz to techno and rock. The Fête unites big names at major venues with accordionists on street corners and choirs in church halls. All concerts are free and every year the Fête de la Musique website publishes a list of participating venues. For information, visit www.fetedelamusique.culture.fr. June 21.
Solidays. Solidarité SIDA is France's main charity promoting the cause of those with HIV. Its annual festival, Solidays, held at Paris's Hippodrome de Longchamp, has fast become one of the city's hippest cultural events attracting more than 100,000 visitors for a weekend of music and arts. Circus performers, fairground stalls, mime artists, and bungee jumpers create a festive atmosphere, but the real stars of the show are the musicians -- big names from the international pop and rock scene. Visit www.solidays.org for information. Late June.
Gay Pride. The flamboyant Paris Gay Pride parade traditionally goes from République to Beaubourg via the Marais, but final confirmation of the route is not usually given until the last minute. Paris has a large gay and lesbian population, with consequently one of the most liberal attitudes in France. Over the last few years the march has grown into a huge carnival, and the big day itself is the culmination of a series of events, including debates and masked balls. Visit www.accueil.gaypride.fr. Late June.
Paris Dance Festival. Les Etés de la Danse provides a series of breathtaking ballet performances at the Belle Epoque Théâtre du Châtelet. A different world-renowned company is invited to perform every year. Expect everything from traditional ballet to contemporary modern dance. For information call tel. 01-42-68-22-14 or visit www.lesetesdeladanse.com.
Bastille Day. France's national holiday commemorates the 1789 storming of the Bastille at the start of the French Revolution. Crowds line the Champs-Élysées for a military parade led by the president, during which jets fly in formation as top military brass bands march from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde. Later Parisians party until dawn as fireworks explode over the Trocadéro. July 14.
Paris Plage. Every summer, 3.2km (2 miles) of the Seine (near the Pont Neuf) are turned into Paris Plage, a beach complete with golden sand and tanning beds. There's free sports, such as volleyball, and entertainment, from comedy to hip-hop. A second stretch of beach, along the Canal de l'Ourcq, also draws crowds with yet more concerts, outdoor games, canoeing, and sand. For information, visit www.paris-plages.fr. July to August.
Open-air Cinema at La Villette. Each summer, film fans converge on Paris's Parc de la Villette for its 4-week Open-Air Cinema. Pack a picnic, and watch movies with the locals -- some are dubbed or subtitled and are some "VO" (original language). Visit www.villette.com. Mid-July to mid-August.
Classique au Vert. World-class classical musicians gather to serenade around 1,500 tourists and Parisians in the leafy Parc Floral (Métro: Château de Vincennes) during this event. Pack a picnic and savor it on the lawn as the sound fills the air -- or, if you want a spot under the bandstand get there around an hour before the concert. For information, visit www.classiqueauvert.fr. Weekends in August and September.
Arènes de Montmartre Festival. The Italian tradition of commedia dell'arte and traveling theater comes to Montmartre's Arènes (one of only two remaining roman amphitheater ruins in Paris) for a 3-week festival. The Mystère Bouffe Theatre Company takes the lead with its colorful theatrical inventions. Plays are also performed in other spots around the Marais and the 10th and 20th arrondissements. For information, visit www.mysterebouffe.com.
Rock en Seine. This music festival, held in the Saint Cloud park just outside Paris (Métro: Boulogne Pont Saint-Cloud), offers a consistently excellent line-up of internationally renowned pop and rock stars, and its chilled-out atmosphere makes it a definite highlight of the city's musical calendar. Kids are welcome too, with a special "minirock" stage set aside for 6- to 10-year-olds. If you buy a festival pass, you can camp at the festival campsite (just bring your own tent). Visit www.rockenseine.com/en for information. Late August.
Techno Parade. The annual Techno Parade turns up the volume and quickens the pace on Paris's streets. Around 20 floats carrying 150 musicians, DJs, and performers turn out to dance their way along the 4.8km (3-mile) route. This huge event forms part of the Rendez-vous électroniques (Electronic Festival) and attracts 400,000 hardcore partygoers. Top DJs entertain the crowds with their mixing skills and decibel-defying sound systems. You can free your inner party animal afterwards too, in numerous bars and clubs across the capital. Visit www.technoparade.fr. Mid-September.
Journées du Patrimoine (Heritage Days). France's Heritage Days give visitors the chance to peek behind the doors of 14,000 buildings that are usually closed to the public. All over the country visitors can glimpse inside politicians' homes, private crypts and cellars, and the back-stage of theaters; many museums open their doors for free as well. Paris has so many wonderful buildings to discover that there are tremendous crowds, so expect to line up and be patient -- the wait will be worth it. For a full program of what to see, check www.journeesdupatrimoine.culture.fr. Late September.
Paris-Versailles Walk. Walkers and runners have been taking part in the annual Paris-Versailles Walk, Grande Classique, for more than 30 years. It starts on the quay in front of the Eiffel Tower and ends 16km (10 miles) away at the Château de Versailles. Changing rooms and refreshments are available all along the route. Anyone over the age of 16 is invited to enter, but French regulations dictate that you need to send in a medical certificate to prove you're up to the challenge. You'll also need to enroll online beforehand at www.parisversailles.com. Late September.
Paris Autumn Festival. Encompassing opera, film, dance, and performing arts, Paris's Autumn Festival incorporates more high-powered contemporary arts events than some other cities see in a whole year. Dip into this festival at any point and you'll discover the best productions Paris has to offer. Languages range from Japanese and Russian to French, German, and English (subtitled where necessary in French), so choose your productions wisely. Visit www.festival-automne.com. September to December.
Nuit Blanche. See Paris as you've never seen it before, when museums, monuments, cinemas, parks, and swimming pools stay open from dusk to dawn (for one night only) as thousands of revelers celebrate Nuit Blanche. The Métro stays open later, and night buses serve all the main arteries until dawn. Visit www.paris.fr. Early October.
Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Paris's Hippodrome de Longchamp stages the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, the jewel in the crown of French horse racing, attended by around 48,000 onlookers. Part of the prestigious World Series Racing Championship, the Arc is popular with Brits, who cross the channel to watch the action. In addition to the excitement of the race, expect a wonderful display of horses, hats, and enough champagne to sink a ship. For information, visit www.prixarcdetriomphe.com. Early October.
Montmartre Grape Harvest Fest. The 5-day Montmartre Grape Harvest Festival (Fête des Vendages de Montmartre) celebrates the new Cuvée Montmartre vintage wine (produced on Montmartre's very slopes). Each year, thousands of revelers come to see short film screenings, listen to concerts, and drink vin. Stalls selling regional produce set up shop on the Butte (Montmartre's hill) and a colorful parade in honor of Bacchus fills the cobbled streets. Visit www.fetedesvendangesdemontmartre.com. Early October.
Salon du Chocolat. The Salon du Chocolat, at Paris's Porte de Versailles, is heaven for thousands of chocolate lovers who come to devour the international ambrosia and learn how it's made. You can also discover the latest in industry trends from a series of chocolate tastings, demonstrations, and symposiums while watching douceurs and chocolatiers create their fineries. This is a popular event so buy your ticket online before you go at www.salon-du-chocolat.com. Late October.
Orchestres en Fête. This annual classical music festival is celebrated nationwide, but as the capital city, Paris is the real center for classical music. Expect classics and lesser-known contemporary pieces played by 50-piece national orchestras as well as more intimate concerts by small Baroque ensembles in venues across the city. For information visit www.orchestresenfete.com. Mid- to late November.
Les Nuits Capitales. This event celebrates Paris's nightlife scene, recognizing all music genres, like jazz, electronica, hip-hop, rock, and pop. It's a fine opportunity to dance the night away in hip venues across the city and to discover new artists. Tip: All participating venues offer reduced prices to those registered on the Nuits Capitales' website (www.nuitscapitales.com). Call tel. 01-43-58-38-50. Late November.
High Heel Race. As far as wackiness goes, Paris's High Heel Race is a winner. Each year preselected teams of women run as fast as they can in high heels (without breaking their necks), at a different Parisian Monument. It's the final leg of an international competition sponsored by the Sarenza shoe website. The winner gets thousands of British pounds to spend on Sarenza's shoes. Yes, it's marketing, but it's all good fun, and there is live music. For information, visit www.highheelrace.co.uk. Early December.
Ice-Skating. Get your skates on and get down to Paris's ice rinks, which pop up across Paris over the winter months. You'll find a mix of tourists and locals cutting up the ice, and best of all: it's free (skate rentals cost around 5€).Visit www.paris.fr for information. December to early March.
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.