July: events in France
Find out what’s happen in France in July with our handy guide
Arras Main Square Festival
The first weekend in July sees the northern town of arras host the Main Square Festival in its historic UnESCO-listed citadel. Featuring some of the biggest names in rock and electro music, this year the event runs from 3 to 6 July in celebration of its 10th edition, and is expected to draw around 40,000 visitors each day with a line-up including Iron Maiden, David Guetta and Franz Ferdinand. The 17th-century citadel will be hosting 40 artists across the two venue stages. Tickets start at €49 per day, and for those who wish to make it a weekend event with a spot the designated
campsite, the charge is €8 per day.
The Festival d’Avignon is a cultural highlight of the summer in France, attracting more than 150,000 visitors who come from Europe and beyond to enjoy a range of artistic performances including music, theatre, dance and literature. This year, the festival is held from 4 to 27 July, with famous Avignon locations transformed into performance spaces, including the courtyard of the Palais des Papes. There is a broad range of performances by French and international artists, and there are free performances as well. For the full programme see
www.festival-avignon.comTour de France
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As one of the world’s largest annual sporting events, the Tour de France is a much-loved summer highlight. This year, the 21-stage race starts for the first time in northern England in Yorkshire. Departing from Leeds on Saturday 5 July the cyclists will travel over 3,500 kilometres, including hills, mountains, sprints and time trails, before racing to the finish along the Champs-Élysées on 27 July. The good news for female cyclists is that there will also be a women’s race along the Champs-Élysées a few hours before the men, the first time since 1989.
La Rochelle’s annual Francofolies festival marks its 30th birthday this year from 10-14 July. held in celebration of French language music, the event showcases performances throughout the five-day event from homegrown and Francophone artists. To celebrate its 30th edition there will be an exhibition in the Charente-Maritine town retracing the event over the last three decades. Ticket prices start from €10, available from www.francofolies.frBastille Day
If you’ve never been in France on 14 July then you’re missing out! The Fête nationale de 14 Juillet, or Bastille Day as it’s commonly referred to, is celebrated with music, dancing, parades and fireworks displays. Officially designated a French national holiday in 1880, 14 July marks the 1789 storming of the Bastille prison in Paris which signalled the beginning of the French Revolution and the eventual creation of the Republic. Paris hosts the biggest event with a military parade and fireworks around the Eiffel Tower, but the rest of France follows suit with highlights including fireworks around Carcassonne and over the beaches of Biarritz.
Festival de Cornouaille
Every summer the town of Quimper in Brittany celebrates its Breton heritage with the Festival de Cornouaille, this year running from 22 to 27 July. as the refuge for Celts fleeing Britain in the fifth and sixth centuries, Brittany developed a unique culture separate from the rest of France – in fact the name ‘Bretagne’ is taken from the French word for Britain. Breton culture is celebrated during the festival with traditional dances and music, competitions for the best Breton bagpipe band, called a bagad, a grand parade in traditional costume on the Sunday, as well as local food and drink to sample.
www.festival-cornouaille.comFête du Cognac
One of France’s most popular exports, cognac, is celebrated each summer during the Fête du Cognac in the town that gave its name to the drink. From 24 to 26 July stalls line the streets selling Charentaise produce, such as melons, oysters and cheese, accompanied by one of the area’s speciality drinks. Every evening at 9pm the first of two concerts starts, with a mixture of local and international bands performing, with plenty of cognac-based drinks to enjoy.
www.lafeteducognac.frLa Route de Champagne en Fête
Independent champagne makers in the department of Aube in southern Champagne-Ardenne throw open their doors for two days in July for La Route de Champagne en Fête. Over the weekend of 26-27 July, visitors to the villages of the Vallée de la Seine can purchase a champagne flute for €15 and taste as many different champagnes as they can manage, as well as enjoy the live music, dancing and entertainers.