Events in France in May


A guide to some of the events happening around France in May

Cannes International Film Festival

14-25 May

After their recent outings at the Oscars and BAFTAs, the stars of Hollywood head to the French Riviera for another glamorous film event – the Cannes International Film Festival. Opening on 14 May with a screening of Grace of Monaco starring Nicole Kidman, the festival runs until 25 May. Although the festival screenings are not open to the general public, Grace of Monaco will also be released in French cinemas on the same day. Those not treading the red carpet can also take part in the festival’s Cinéma de la Plage operating on the Plage Macé beach alongside La Croisette, showing festival films and other classics.

Nuits Sonores, Lyon

28 May-1 June

Lyon, the dynamic capital of Rhône-Alpes, reverberates to the sound of electronic music for five nights in May as the city streets are taken over by the Nuits Sonores music festival (pictured above). More than 250 locations, as varied as galleries, industrial wastelands, rooftops and swimming pools, are taken over by the festival from 28 May to 1 June, and host performances day and night from international and local names. The city also hosts some 30 conceptual projects encouraging visitors to get actively involved. Now in its 12th year, the festival’s aim to showcase electronic and independent music and digital culture sees performances from popular names and new acts on the scene. In addition there is the Mini Sonores festival for children under 12, where mini music fans can try their hand at producing music and improvising as a radio presenter.

Chocolate Days, Bayonne

30-31 May

Chocolate-lovers would do well to head to Bayonne on France’s south-west coast for the city’s Chocolate Days event, running from 30 to 31 May. The Basque city devotes two days to the celebration of this indulgent treat, with chocolatiers giving streetside gourmet demonstrations and inviting passers-by to taste the results. There are also guided tours around Bayonne for those wanting to find out more about the history of chocolate in Bayonne.

Rendez-vous aux Jardins

31 May-1 June

Now in its 12th year, the annual Rendez-vous aux Jardins event in France is fast becoming a national institution. From private estates to national favourites, gardens across the country open up their doors for free to visitors on 31 May and 1 June. Last year 1.8 million people took advantage of the event to explore more than 2,000 gardens, and this year is expected to attract similar numbers. The theme for 2014 is ‘L’enfant au jardin’ with the aim being to recreate the magic of a garden as seen through the eyes of a child. Guided tours, concerts, games and exhibitions hope to make the gardens a place of discovery, imagination and learning. Should you find yourself in Dordogne, the Marqueyssac gardens offer the promise of a spectacular candlelit evening concert on Saturday 31 May.

Jazz in Arles

17-24 May

To experience jazz in a unique setting, head to the UNESCO World Heritage town of Arles in Provence for a week of concerts and events. The beautiful town is full of well-preserved Roman treasures, and from 17 until 24 May the sounds of jazz float down the streets from a series of performances taking place in the town’s Chapelle du Méjan. Remaining true to its roots rather than following the trends, the festival welcomes new and established artists from a variety of genres of jazz to entertain visitors over the week. Performers include Matthieu Donarier and Sébastien Boisseau, the Vincent Peirani Trio and Airelle Besson and Nelson Veras, as well as many more recognisable names. Some concerts are free, while prices for paying events start at €7 – there’s also the option to purchase a pass for €45, which includes entry to five concerts or lectures.

Jazz Pourpre Périgord, Bergerac


A picturesque town on the banks of the River Dordogne, Bergerac is a firm favourite with holidaymakers thanks to its stunning scenery and delicious food and drink. During the month of May, the town and surrounding area become a paradise for jazz-lovers, as the Jazz Pourpre Périgord festival kicks off an entire month of activites. Throughout the month performances, exhibitions and master classes take place around Bergerac, with all of the performances running for free. Local artists and up-and-coming talent are given space alongside both street performers and big names in the world of jazz for an ecletic mix. The culmination of the month-long jazz event is a series of three concerts given by star performers, which this year includes the young and talented Thomas Enhco on Friday 23 May, Julien Brunetaud on Saturday 24 and Cécile McLorin Salvant on Sunday 25.

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