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6 late winter festivals in France 2016

PUBLISHED: 15:16 12 February 2016 | UPDATED: 15:27 12 February 2016

Carnaval de Nice © A.Issock / OTC Nice

Carnaval de Nice © A.Issock / OTC Nice


Whether film, art, dancing, flowers or music is your forte, these French festivals have it covered – and more. We pick 6 annual celebrations to enjoy in February and March, before spring arrives this year.

Fête du Citron, Menton, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

13-14 February

Fête du Citron began in the 1930s as a celebration of Menton’s success as a citrus fruit producer in the balmy climate of the Côte d’Azur. It’s now famous globally, with more than 250,000 annual visitors. Each year, themed sculptures are made from oranges and lemons, with previous creations including the Moulin Rouge and the Taj Mahal. There are also floral parades, dancers and brass bands.

Carnaval de Nice, Nice, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

13-28 February

This carnival is one of the largest in the world and it can be traced back to 1294. Every February, Nice is ablaze with colour, music and dancing as the celebrations banish the winter blues and look forward to spring. There’s a different theme each year with the processional floats decorated accordingly. The floats are paraded through Place Masséna and thousands of flowers are thrown into the crowd by performers in costume. There are musicians, dancers and street theatre too.

Carnaval de Strasbourg, Strasbourg

13 March

For the Carnaval de Strasbourg, the city exudes a festival atmosphere as more than 40 colourful floats and 3,000 street performers join a parade through the city centre. Starting at the Quai du Général Koenig, the procession finishes in the Place Kléber where there are live music acts on the outdoor stage. The party lasts long into the night at the surrounding bars.

Carnaval des Deux Rives, Bordeaux

28 February

This festival of creativity has only been running for around twenty years but it causes great excitement through the artist community of Bordeaux. Every year (usually on the first Sunday of March), amateur artists gather in the city centre to celebrate their artistic achievements through the parade of characters made from recyclced materials, spawning a truly magical atmosphere in the process.

Printemps du Cinéma, across France

20-22 March

Now in its 16th year, France’s annual Printemps du Cinéma nationwide festival is a firm fixture in the film calendar. For three days cinema-goers pay only €3.50 for admission. Organised by the Fédération Nationale des Cinémas Français, the special tariff applies to all films in cities across France, giving you the perfect excuse for a trip to the movies.

Fête des Violettes, Tourrettes sur Loup, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

27-28 February

The Provençal village of Tourrettes-sur-Loup holds an annual violet festival every February to celebrate the sweet-smelling flower for which Tourrettes-sur-Loup is famous for producing. The festival is centred around the town’s marketplace with stalls offering local produce and there are dawn serenades, dances, parades and flower throwing during the Battle of the Flowers.

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