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Summer Festivals in France

It’s no exaggeration to say summer is the best time to visit France. From the mountains of the Alps to the thriving cosmopolitan streets of cities such as Paris and Marseilles, everything here just seems that bit more alluring once the sun is shining. Which is saying something, as France is an astoundingly alluring country as it is.

Equally, there’s no better way to spend summer in France than hopping around its many and varied festivals. Summer festivals in France are invariably feel-good (not to mention eminently chic) occasions, and the traveler could do much worse than plan a few months of travel around the following dates in the French festival calendar.

Bastille Day (July 14th)

In terms of French history, dates don’t come more weighted than the 14th of July. On this day in 1789, the infamous Bastille Prison was stormed by a rebellious uprising, thus precipitating the eventual fall of the French monarchy. Since then, it has come to symbolize the formation of modern France.

Needless to say, Bastille Day is today a great excuse for a massive party, with the streets of Paris an epicenter of joy and revelry. The Champs-Elysées is the home of most events, with parades, fireworks, and an air show all on offer. Elsewhere in the city, there’s a barrage of balls and dancing in the streets.

For the budget traveler, Bastille Day is best enjoyed while staying in a Paris hostel, as these offer a cheap and fun means of staying in the city. OOPS! is a hostel Paris can be proud of, and many like minded backpackers congregate here year in year out to enjoy the festivities. Likewise, St. Christopher’s is a great place to meet others and enjoy the party.

Tour de France (July)

France has some major summer sporting occasions, such as the French Open and Le Mans. The Tour de France, however, is probably the biggest among them. This three-week long road race traces its way all over France, from the mountains to the sea, galvanizing the entire country into a cycling fervour while it’s at it.

Avignon Festival (July)

The Avignon Festival is now over 60 years old. An arts and entertainment festival, it’s one of the biggest and most respected of its type in the world.

Nice Jazz Festival (July)

Widely held to be the first truly international jazz festival, the annual Nice Jazz festival is a wonderful occasion, featuring numerous top-drawer musicians who perform across a variety of different stages.

While the festival only lasts for a week, visitors tend to stay a little longer, in order to soak up the ambience of Nice, which is one of France’s many exquisitely beautiful cities.

Chateauneauf des Papas Wine Festival (August)

Every year, the village of Chateauneauf des Papas becomes inundated with visitors, who flock from all over the world to enjoy the areas celebrated wine festival. Expect music, dance, carnival performances, and, of course, more alcoholic grape-juice than seems plausibly imaginable.

Jonny Cooper did a backpacking tour of France. He checked out a variety of summer festivals and the country's budget accommodation, and stayed in a Paris Hostel in France.