5 special reasons to visit France in 2016


Here’s our guide to 5 unmissable events and attractions in the worlds of history, sport and wine in France in 2016

1. Mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme by paying your respects to those who fell in World War I. The Historial de la Grande Guerre museum in Péronne is holding a ‘Writers in the Great War’ exhibition from April-November (tel: (Fr) 3 22 83 14 18, http://en.historial.org). Meanwhile, the town of Albert has a series of events from 30 June to 2 July, with pipers, lights of remembrance, a multi-faith concert and a dramatic performance featuring soldiers’ stories from the Somme 1916 museum (www.visit-somme.com). On 1 July, exactly 100 years since the battle began, services will take place at key sites including the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing. This is a limited, ticket-only event, but organisers are putting up giant screens in Amiens, Albert and Arras so everyone else can watch.


2. Visit the Lascaux IV prehistoric cave art centre in Montignac-sur-Vézère in the Dordogne département. The €50 million complex, due to open in June, has been built about one kilometre from the original caves, where wall paintings dating back almost 20,000 years were discovered in 1940. Helped by scale models, 3D effects and the latest image technologies, visitors will get a real sense of what it was like in the caves. The centre replaces the Lascaux II replica caves, which will now be open mainly to researchers and historians.


3. Watch the start of the world’s most famous cycle race in Normandy. The 2016 Tour de France will begin on 2 July, with the cyclists racing from the abbey site of Le Mont-Saint-Michel to Utah Beach, one of the D-Day landing sites in June 1944. Stage two goes from Saint-Lô to Cherbourg-Octeville, and the Normandy leg concludes with the third stage leaving Granville for Angers in the Loire Valley. Will Chris Froome win again?


4. See the UEFA 2016 European football championships. The tournament, which is expected to bring 2.5 million fans to France, will be held from 10 June to 10 July in nine French cities: Paris, Bordeaux, Lens, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Saint-Étienne and Toulouse.


5. Gain an insight into thousands of years of winemaking at the Cité du Vin in Bordeaux. The ultra-modern, curved structure, which is set to open in June, will show visitors the relationship between wine and culture from ancient times to the modern day in all the world’s major wine-growing areas. The building, anchored on the banks of the River Garonne, will feature an observation deck offering picture-postcard views of the city and the surrounding vineyards. For more check out our French wine and vineyard section.


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