The town of Capbreton (40 Landes, Aquitaine) celebrates its Festival of the Sea (Fete de la Mer) on the weekend of 8–9 June 2013.
Situated north of Biarritz with long sweeping beaches and dunes, typical of the Landes departement, Capbreton offers a festival which is full of flowers, procession with floats, music and dancing.
For more info see www.capbreton-tourisme.com
Antibes/Juan-les-Pins (06 Alpes Maritimes) on the French Riviera holds a Vintage Sailboat Regatta 29 May – 2 June 2013
“Les Voiles d’Antibes” – Vintage sailboat regattas: As the grand opening of the Mediterranean sailing season, around sixty of the world’s most beautiful sailing ships who have written the splendid history of international yachting since the end of the 19th century, will once again gather in Antibes. These nautical cathedrals (certain units featuring over 1,000 square meters of sails) will fill with joy the spectators, offering them a magnificent show while racing along the 24 km of Antibes’s coastline. A Sports’ events doubled with a four days fiesta and fun in the “Village des Voiles” as well as in the old city.
Whether as a spectator or participant thus promises to be a fun event in the elegant surroundings of Antibes between Nice and Cannes on the Côte d’Azur – beaches and museums (for Napoleon, Picassoand Absinthe amonst others). It is also home to an internationsal hJazz Festival (Jazz à Juan) in July. (12-21 July 2013)
There is also the Port Vauban, built by France’s greatest military architect. The old port was the heart of the ancient Greek city of Antipolis. It is now the largest yachting harbour in Europe,
For more information see www.voilesdantibes.com/
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Go by train from London to Nice?
The Cathedral in Amiens (80 Somme, Picardie) is lit up in colour (Amiens, la cathédrale en couleurs) – 15 June to 15 September 2013
The magical effect of coloured lighting on the façade of the cathedral, created by the
company Skertzò, provides visitors with an original experience of this impressive gothic cathedral.
The cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage site -Amiens Cathedral, in the heart of Picardy, is one of the largest ‘classic’ Gothic churches of the 13th century. It is notable for the coherence of its plan, the beauty of its three-tier interior elevation and the particularly fine display of sculptures on the principal facade and in the south transept.
For more info about the Cathedral lighting
Amiens Tourism Office
The French have their own take on Bagpipes, as you can witness at the Cassel (59 Nord, Nord-Pas-de-Calais )Cornemuses bagpipes festival which runs from 1- 30 June 2013
In and around Cassel, in the Houtland district and on Mont Cassel itself, visitors have an opportunity to beat time and dance to the sound of the pipes. Musical instruments mart, folk dancing, free concerts and special folk dances.
The French for bagpipes is Cornemuse!, and thcey are often associated with Breton folk music, alt hough there may be different traditions in this northern corner of France.
For examples of Breton folk music look out for the group la Bottine Souriante, which although from Quebec they do feature French Folk music
For more info see gotofrancenow.com
On the weekend 16-17 March 2013, Nuits St Georges (21 Cotes d’Or, Burgundy) celebrates the 52nd Auction of Wines in support of the Hospices de Nuits St Georges (Vente des Vins des Hospices de Nuits).
The famous and pleasant town of Nuits-St-Georges is in the heart of Burgundy wine country. Similar to the November Hospices de Beaune auction, this is an opportunity for local winemakers to raise money for charity, whilst also getting some markers on the potential prices for their wines. Open to the general public entry cost €10 for an engraved glass and opportunities to taste the wines from the 2012 harvest.
Make a weekend of it by visiting the Festival of Chocolate, the farmers’ and gourmet market and the dog show and take part in the Half-Marathon.
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For more on the Auction
Another example of the French passion for their food, the villages of Arrens Marsous (65 Hautes-Pyrénées, Midi-Pyrénées) in the Val d’Azun in the high Pyrenees celebrates the return of the local sheep and shepherds from the high summer pasture so that Autumn and Winter can be spent in the lower level sheltered valleys (transhumance).
The “Foire aux Côtelettes” takes place on 14-15 September 2013 and includes a party with local barbecued lamb chops, cheese tasting, music, cattle market, sheep shearing and the inevitable market. The festivities finish late at night with the sounds of a banda and dancing.
For more info see www.valdazun.fr
Generally too high for vines, the area does however produce good Pyrenean cheeses – often sheeps milk cheeses which are semi-hard and a little lighter on the palate – such as Ossau Fermier and Brébis Pyrénées. The nearest wines are those from Irouleguy and Madiran which are big meaty reds; dry aromatic whites from Jurancon, and sweet wines from Jurancon and Pacherenc-du-Vic-Bilh.
Yet another reason to visit (or re-visit) the town of Millau (12 Aveyron, Midi-Pyrenees) this summer – the Millau Jazz Festival runs from 15th – 22nd July 2006, which means that instead of the town ringing to the thunder of long queues of slow-moving heavy traffic as in years gone by, you can now be serenaded (or at least intrigued) by the sound of music throughout the town.
With the opening of Norman Foster’s Viaduc de Millau last year, the town has been re-born and is a pleasant provincial town once more – not particularly exciting of itself, but spectacularly situated on the River Tarn with views of the gorge and bridge – and offering the usual mix of decent shops, hotels and restaurants to enjoy.
The bridge is well worth a few hours detour – to view it from below – and to drive over – PLUS the surrounding area is wonderfully unspoilt and (still, for now) largely untouristed!
For more info on Milla Jazz see http://assoc.orange.fr/millau.jazz/infos.htm
For more info on Millau and the bridge see www.ot-millau.fr/
For 5 weeks this Autumn France hosts the Rugby World Cup Tournament, starting with the initial match on 7 September 2007 in Paris and ending with the Final on the Stade de France in Paris on 20 October.Teams from across the World will be competing, and they may be a little surprised to find that some of the early round matches are being played in Cardiff and Edinburgh!!
However, the majority of matches are to be played in France including Lens (Nord Pas-de-Calais), Nantes (Brittany/Loire), Bordeaux (Aquitaine), Toulouse (Midi-Pyrenees), Montpellier (Languedoc- Roussillon), Marseille (Provence) St Etienne and Lyon (Central France) and of course Paris.
So be warned that roads and hotels are likely to be busier than normal in the Autumn, especially in Paris (throughout) and in the host towns and cities near match days.
As always with such events it is worth planning ahead and booking tickets, travel and hotel arrangements as early as possible.
Rugby Union (Rugby à 15) is very popular in certain pockets of France – particularly the South West. On the A61 Autouroute between Toulouse and Castelnaudry there is a motorway service area (aire) that is worth visiting – and its not often we would recommend such a place. At Port Lauragais there is the Ovalie – a rugby museum, as local teams such as Toulouse, Agen and Castres are amongst the elite European teams.
The “aire” also has a museum and display on the adjacent Canal du Midi which has a marina mooring on the site. So well worth a break in your journey see map
See our web calender for the dates and locations of the World Cup matches this Autumn
www.rugbyworldcup.com for news, details of teams, fixtures etc
Rail Europe has some attractive offers when tickets go on sale in May – e.. London to Lyon from £99 return – and that is city centre to city centre.
Le Guide Vert: Midi-Pyrenees
France on the T.G.V.: How to Use the World’s Fastest Train to Get the Most Out of France
Grand Tour De France: A Rugby Supporter’s Guide to the World Cup – France 2007
The scallop (Coquille Saint-Jacques) is celebrated with a Festival in the Brittany vort of Loguivy de la Mer – Ploubazlanec (22 Côtes d’Armor, Brittany) 27-28 April 2013
Every year the Spring Scallop Festival is held in one of three west Brittany ports – the others being Erquy and Saint Quay Portrieux. This area regards itself as the “Capital of the Scallop”, with a vibrant fish market serviced by the local fishing boats – lobsters, scallops, spider crabs are usually available.
Abbaye de Beauport
North of Paimpol, the so-called Goëlo Coast is a must for lovers of the outdoors. Take the GR34 old customs officers’ path around the peninsula from the active fishing village of Loguivy-de-la-Mer to Pors-Even, taking in the magnificent views and historic town of Ploubazlanec.
This is far Brittany, a long way from the rest of France, its customs, language and culture.
Just south of Paimpol is the maritime abbey of Beauport, which is well worth a visit, and at the in Autumn the abbey hosts an Apple Festival (Fête de la Pomme) 7 October 2012
To the north of the port of Paimpol you can get a ferry for a trip to the Isle of Brehat.! (no vehicles)
For more info on the Spring Scallop Festival see www.cotesdarmor.com
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The town of Compiegne (60 Oise, Picardie) holds its 24th annual Cheese and Wine Fair (Foire aux Fromages et aux Vins) 25-26 May 2013.
Compiegne styles itself as an “Imperial Town” based on its connection with Napoleon and other French kings – the Chateau de Compiegne and the surrounding forests (for hunting) were a royal and imperial favourite – and conveniently lying just about 80km north of Paris.
The Chateau is worth visiting for its 3 museums – The Historic Apartments, The Museum of the Second Empire, and the National Museum of Cars & Tourisme (Musée National de la Voiture et du Tourisme), established in 1927!!
But of course, Compiegne has more recent claims to fame – the Armistice following the First World War was signed in a railway carriage in the forest of Compiegne – there is now an Armistice Museum which contains a replica of the Wagon-Lits Carriage where the Armistice was signed (and where in 1940 Hitler humiliated the French in return after the Fall of France).
The other claim to fame is that Compiegne is the start of the gruelling Paris-Roubaix cycle race each April.
For more info on the Cheese & Wine Fair – see Foire aux Fromages et aux Vins
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Every year, National Ferry Fortnight aims to promote the benefits of UK ferry travel and offer some great travel deals:
- No baggage restrictions
- Space to relax and unwind
- Convenience of having your own car
To celebrate DFDS is taking 20% off their 2013 Dover-Dunkirk and Dover-Calais Economy fares so if you travel with your car and up to 4 people before 19 December 2013, you’ll save £’s!
Just book before 20 March 2013 by going to DFDS quoting offer code ENFF
Over on Brittany Ferries – you can get your family holiday off to a great start by taking advantage of the special family holiday offer, worth up to £180. Travel on a day sailing to France this summer and for lots of free extras.
Book now and:
- Kids travel free*
- Free day cabins**
- Free bikes on the back of your car
By taking your car you’ll be free from the hassle of airports, free to explore at your own pace and free to pack all you need to make the most of your trip. With convenient routes and sailings, you’ll arrive closer to your holiday saving miles of driving, tolls and even overnight stops. And the on board service will mean getting there is all part of the fun, with lots to keep the family occupied as you head south.
Booking and travel dates:
This offer is valid on day sailings only throughout the year including school holidays. Simply book by 18 March 2013 – Brittany Ferries Special Offer
Vinsobres (26 Drôme, Rhône-Alpes) is one of the Côtes du Rhône, named villages – indicating a higher quality of wine than generic Côtes du Rhône, and the local winemakers syndicate organise a wine Festival (Salon des Vins de l’AOC Vinsobres) in March each year – 17 March 2013.
The wine fair also features other local producers – charcuterie, chocolate, nougat , cheese….
In mid-summer there are also 2 more wine festivals – Nuits Diviniques (19 July 2013 and 8 August 2013) – evening events starting at 7pm in the Place de la Mairie.
Then in September (date to be confirmed) there is the Grape Harvest Festival (Ban des Vendanges)
Vinsobres is predominantly a red wine made from Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre grapes – they are grown rather higher on the valley sides giving them more structure and complexity.
Vinsobres is situated about 40 kms north east of Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
For more info see www.vinsobres.fr
They may not actually throw the Christians to the lions these days, but they do stage a decent historical re-creation of the Roman games in the impressive Roman arena at Nîmes (30 Gard, Languedoc-Roussillom) 4-5 May 2013
Discover the biggest living history event in the south of France. Roman legionnaires, Celts, the Imperial Court, auxiliaries, cavalrymen and war chariots will all be there for this great celebration of Roman civilization….
Nîmes became a colony under Latin Law and was ornamented with sumptuous monuments. It reached its peak in the second century AD. Successive invasions and then the arrival of the Visigoths in the fifth century put an end to its prosperity.
The local wine is Costières de Nimes, which is the most southerly of the Côtes du Rhône appellations – see our article on Nimes and its Costieres
Nimes Tourist Office
Roman Games website (in French)