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January

 

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

February

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 the Carnival king effigy. Late February to early March. www.nicecarnaval.com.

Fête du Citron, Menton. Two-week celebration of the local lemon industry in France’s sunniest town. Expect mega lemon sculptures and song. www.feteducitron.com.

Fête du Mimosas. Mandelieu-La Napoule. Seven-day party dedicated the region’s yellow mimosa flowers, with parades, street parties, and beauty pageants. www.ot-mandelieu.com.

March

Napoleon’s arrival, Golfe-Juan. Reimagining of Bonaparte’s beachy arrival in the South of France on March 1, 1815. Celebration especially important for the 2015 bicentennial anniversary of his march to Paris. www.vallauris-golfe-juan.fr.

Le Paris-Nice, French Riviera. The nation’s second most important cycle race is a precursor to the Tour de France. Route runs through Provence countryside and finishes on Nice’s promenade des Anglais. Mid-March. www.letour.com.

May

Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer Gypsy Festival, Camargue. Annual gypsy festival where tens of thousands of faithful walk into the waves in praise of the Black Sarah. Mid-May. www.saintesmaries.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.

Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, Monaco. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic play this clay court tournament as the Mediterranean shimmers beyond. Mid-May. www.atpworldtour.com.

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.

Lubéron Jazz Festival. Saxophones, double bases, and guitars take over every municipal space in the village of Apt. Late May. www.luberonjazz.net.

June

Fête de la Mer et des Pêcheurs, Martigues. Local fishing fleets perform boat-to-boat jousting contests. The consumption of unholy amounts of seafood is de rigueur. Late June. www.martigues-tourisme.com.

Fête de la Musique, across region. Nation-wide festival of sound on the longest evening of the year. Expect drummers and DJs on every street corner. June 21.

Nice Ironman Triathlon, Nice. An incredible sight as thousands of swimmers dive into the Mediterranean. Followed by a full marathon. And an Alpine bike ride. Late June. www.ironman.com.

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

Festival de Lacoste. One of Provence’s prettiest villages becomes an open-air theatre for ballet and classical recital. Mid-July. www.festivaldelacoste.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 Alps, Provence, and French Riviera. 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. Many of the performances take place in the 14th-century courtyard of the Palais des Pâpes. Last 3 weeks of July. www.festival-avignon.com.

Avignon OFF. Month-long fringe event packed with street theatre, comedy, and music. www.avignonleoff.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. July 14.

Les Suds Arles. Seven-day cultural and world music show within the Roman amphitheaters and city walls of ancient Arles. Mid-July. www.suds-arles.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 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.

Réncontres d’Arles. The prettiest town in Provence hosts a citywide photography festival. Prepare to be wowed. July to September. www.rencontres-arles.com.

Marseille Ironman Triathlon, Marseille. Ironman returned to Marseille in 2014. See thousands of swimmers line up on the Plages du Prado, before they cycle 40km then run a final 10km. Late July. www.ironman.com.

Jazz à Juan, Juan-les-Pins. Key international jazz, reggae, and blues festival. Take a place on an alfresco stage with the sea and setting sun behind. Late July. www.jazzajuan.fr.

 

AUGUST

Monte-Carlo International Fireworks Competition, Monaco. You’ve never seen pyrotechnics like it. The skies above Monaco are lit up twice weekly as international teams compete for the biggest bang in the business. August. www.visitmonaco.com

Festival de Musique, Menton. Outdoor seats are set up in every square and churchyard for this most genteel of classical music festivals. First 2 weeks of August. www.festival-musique-menton.fr.

Azurial Opera Festival, Cap-Ferrat. Impossibly cute 4-day opera festival in the rarified confines of the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild on Cap-Ferrat. Late August. www.azurialopera.com.

September

Les Etoiles de Mougins, Mougins. The French Riviera’s premier live cooking show. Medieval Mougins is taken over by 50 top chefs for an entire weekend. Features cook-offs, interactive displays, and Michelin star standard freebies. Mid-September. www.lesetoilesdemougins.com

Journées du Patrimoine, regional. The region’s grandest buildings open their doors to the public for one weekend only. Just don’t pocket any souvenirs as you peek around. Mid-September. www.journeesdupatrimoine.culture.fr.

October

Les Voiles de St-Tropez. The largest and most glamorous of the French Riviera’s classic sailing regattas. Watch tens of millions of Euros worth of sail compete in the confines of the Bay of St-Tropez. Early October. www.lesvoilesdesaint-tropez.fr.

Fiesta des Suds, Marseille. No-holds-barred urban festival of African, world, and Mediterranean music in Marseille’s rejuvenated docklands. Late October. www.dock-des-suds.org.

November

Nice-Cannes Marathon. What could be the world’s prettiest marathon route runs from Nice’s promenade des Anglais through the Cap d’Antibes and Juan-les-Pins. But taking part is no walk in the park. Early November. www.marathon06.com.

December

Fête de St-Sylvestre (New Year’s Eve), nationwide. In Nice, this holiday is most boisterously celebrated on the promenade des Anglais. Champagne corks fly in every other Southern French town. 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.