April events in France
PUBLISHED: 12:54 27 March 2017 | UPDATED: 13:19 27 March 2017
There are plenty of festivals and events in France in April, including a nature festival in Somme, the Paris marathon, several garden festivals and April Fool’s Day. We take a look at what’s on in France in April
Festival de l’Oiseau et de la Nature, Somme
Spring is the ideal time to get back to nature and the Bay of Somme in Picardy, with its lakes, valleys, sand dunes and cliffs is the ideal place to wake up to the wildlife all around. In April, the Festival de l’Oiseau et de la Nature celebrates the great outdoors with special screenings of nature documentaries, educational workshops and photo exhibitions. Guided tours through the countryside are available on horseback, boat, bike and foot and provide a great opportunity for visitors to spot birds or even seals on the bay.
April Fool’s Day
April Fool’s Day in France is called le poisson d’avril and you can expect to see fish-shaped chocolates and pastries in shops across France. The traditional prank in France is to stick paper cut-out fish onto unwitting people’s backs. The origins of le poisson d’avril are unclear but many believe it is related to the end of Lent and the tradition of giving fish as a gift to celebrate the beginning of Easter. Find out more about April Fool’s Day traditions in France
International Garden Festival, Château de Chaumont, Loire Valley
April is the perfect month to get back into gardening and the International Garden Festival (April to November) in the Loire Valley springs up just in time to inspire green-fingered ambitions for the warmer season ahead. Set in the charming gardens of Château de Chaumont, the festival showcases over 30 themed gardens from all over the world. The unique landscape designs give an extra flourish to the already impressive gardens that surround the lavish building. At night, the gardens are illuminated, making for an even more enchanting experience.
Paris-Roubaix cycle race
In April, amateur and professional cyclists take on the infamous cobbles of the Paris-Roubaix cycle route in northern France – known as the Hell of the North. The route has been part of the Tour de France in previous years and, along with the Alpe d’Huez and Col du Tourmalet, the Paris-Roubaix route has become a must for all enthusiastic cyclists in France. Amateurs can choose between a 170km, 141km or 70km race while the elite riders tackle the cobbles the following day.
Chartres en Lumières, Chartres
From April until October, the spotlight will be on Chartres when the enchanting city holds its annual festival of light, Chartres en Lumières. When dusk arrives, you can see the city in a whole new way as light and video installations reflect off the city’s medieval monuments including the UNESCO-designed cathedral. See the spectacle by simply strolling through the illuminated town on foot or by joining a guided tour. Alternatively, catch the Petit Train to take in the sights with commentary from the driver.
If you need some spectacular sights to motivate your running ambitions, the Paris Marathon has an unrivalled supply to spur you on when the going gets tough. The race starts on the Champs-Élysées leading participants along a route lining the city’s most magnificent monuments including the Louvre, Pont Neuf and the Eiffel Tower. If the world-famous sites aren’t enough to keep you going, pop-up music events and cheese at the 35km mark should cheer you on.
Festival de la Tulipe, Château de Vendeuvre, Normandy
Throughout the month of April, the grounds surrounding Château de Vendeuvre near Caen burst into life with more than 300,000 tulip blooms of over 100 varieties during the Festival de la Tulipe. The tulips are planted around the garden’s features so you can follow the colourful trail of flowers and marvel at the estate’s trees, statues, ponds and ornate pavilions on your way. If it gets a little chilly, call into the château to see its quirky collection of miniature furniture on display.
Fête de la Coquille Saint-Jacques, Brittany
Scallops are the prized seafood speciality along the Côtes-d’Armor coast in Brittany and every year, on the last weekend of April, this star of the sea is celebrated during the Fête de la Coquille Saint-Jacques. Visitors can sample the locals’ favourite dish fresh on the port or take their pick from the many restaurants serving up special menus for the festivities. When you’ve had your fill of seafood, watch a street parade, go on a fishing trip with local trawler men or catch a special musical performance.
Festival des Jardins, Côte d’Azur
The Côte d’Azur is an obvious choice for flower fans and, in April, the area is hosting a new garden festival. Comprising five towns including Antibes, Cannes, Grasse, Menton and Nice, the festival aims to protect and showcase the gardens of the area with 10 pop-up green spaces. The theme for its opening year is ‘awakening the sense’, and it activites including flower arranging and gardening technique workshops, tasting sesions, culinary events and plant markets will do just that. Admission to the festival gardens is free.
Printemps de Bourges, Bourges, Cher
Every spring, thousands of spectators come to the concert halls and marquees of Bourges to listen to the world’s most famous artists and discover young musical talent. Fusing popular headliners with lesser-known bands, the Printemps de Bourges festival has offered a week of concerts every year since 1977, in the most diverse musical genres, at various locations across Bourges.
Rencontres Internationales de Cerfs-Volants, Berck-sur-Mer
There is something undeniably uplifting about flying a kite, which is probably why the annual Cerfs Volants festival in Berck-sur-Mer remains so popular. The event brings thousands of wind and sea enthusiasts, athletes and thrill-seekers to the shores of Pas-de-Calais every year. As well as marvelling at the colourful kites on display, visitors can also attend workshops, while the night flight show will send your soul soaring.
Grand Jeux Romains, Nîmes
Nîmes is often referred to as the ‘Rome of France’ and in April its ancient heritage is celebrated in the grandest of ways with the Grand Jeux Romains. The Nîmes amphitheatre will host a re-enactment of the ‘Great Roman Games’ where visitors can travel back in time by cheering on a spectacle of chariot racing, equestian vaulting demonstrations, gladiatorial combat and more. Outside the arena’s walls, the city’s streets come alive with fancy dress parades and ineractive workshops for children. Every year the festival takes on a different theme.
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