August in France is the height of the summer when all the world seems to play. The seaside resorts are crammed but you can always escape into the deep rural countryside of the Auvergne or to the Alps or Pyrenees and the cooler air. Check out these top events in August.

PLEASE NOTE: Many of these events have been cancelled, shortened or rescheduled due to Covid-19. France is now pretty much fully open but events were changed months ago. I have researched as much as I can, and noted any changes.

If there is no note for the event, it is scheduled to go ahead as written and on those dates. Things might change, so please keep clicking on the links to double check.

Street party at night at Biarritz with smoke and foam
Party in Biarritz in August. Atout France/Aquashot

Every village, town and city seems to be en fête with street parties, music festivals and open-air festivities. And Brittany comes into its own.

Aug 1-21, 2020: International Piano Festival, widely regarded as the most important piano festival in the world takes place in La Roque d’Anthéron, just 25 kms from Aix-en-Provence. Outdoor and indoor concerts.
PLEASE NOTE: The International Piano Festival has been rescheduled to August 1-21, 2020. Here’s the new programme.

Huge mechanical elephant in his gallery in the Ile de Nantes
The fabulous Elephant in the Ile de Nantes Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

To August 30, 2020: Le Voyage à Nantes takes you on a 12-kilometer journey around this great city. It takes in art works and museums like the Abolition of Slavery. It’s great fun and shows off Nantes’ treasures, like the Great Elephant and takes you to parts of the city you might otherwise miss.
PLEASE NOTE: Le Voyage a Nantes has been rescheduled to August 8-Sept 27, 2020.

View down onto sand and blue parasons and people on the banks of the Seine for Paris Plage
Paris Plage Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

To Sept 1, 2020: Paris Plage fills up the banks of the Seine with imported sand, parasols, volley ball, kiosks and a beach vibe.

Giverny garden with Japanese bridge in background and flowering plants
Giverny © L. Leloup D. Dumas CRT Normandie

To September 6, 2020: Normandy Impressionist Festival returns with a new theme – Everyday Colour (La couleur au jour le jour). 20 Impressionist exhibitions, 30 contemporary art exhibitions, performing arts, street theatre, and multiple events take over the glorious Normandy region down the coastline and inland.
PLEASE NOTE: The Normandy Impressionist Festival has been rescheduled. It will now run from July 4 to Nov 15, 2020.
More about Normandy and Impressionism.

To Sept 20, 2020: Rencontres d’Arles is a huge international photo expo, now 50 years old. Most of the events take place in the opening week, but the exhibits generally remain on view to the end of the show.
PLEASE NOTE: The 2020 Arles Meetings event has been cancelled. Rescheduled for 2021.

La Gacilly Photo Festival in Brittany with people in a wood with huge photographs
La Gacilly Photo Festival

To Sept 30, 2020: La Gacilly is the largest open-air photographic festival in France. Created in 2004 by Yves Rocher in southern Brittany, it combines art and photojournalism. Large format photographs fill the parks, squares and streets with images.
PLEASE NOTE: La Gacilly photo festival has been rescheduled. It will run from July 1 to Oct 31, 2020.

Chartres theatre illuminated in many colours for the summer light festival
Charters illuminated. OTC Chartres

To Dec, 2020: Chartres en lumières sees this wonderful city in the Loire Valley illuminated for its annual festival of light. It’s nightly so there’s no excuse to miss it. It runs nightly from dusk to 1am.

Large wicker bowls full of plants at Chaumont Garden Festival
Chaumont-sur-Loire Garden Festival

To Nov 3, 2020: The International Garden Festival takes over the beautiful Chaumont-sur-Loire château gardnes in the Loire Valley. It’s like the Chelsea Flower Show of France, except that it goes on for just over 7 months. The series of gardens from international designers always delivers some surprises.

Procession of men with bagpipes in the street at Lorient Interceltic festival
Lorient Interceltic Festival. CC BY-SA 3.0

Aug 7-16, 2020: The Lorient Interceltic Festival couldn’t be anywhere but in Morbihan, Brittany. Here they celebrate Breton music and culture as well as that of the British Celtic nations of Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man and Ireland, and Galicia and Asturias in north Spain. Over 800,000 people gather to see 4,5000 artists on 11 stages.

Aug 20-22, 2020: La  Route du Rock gives contemporary sounds in a medieval fortified setting, at Fort Saint-Père, Bon Secours beach and the Palais du Grand Large in beautiful Saint-Malo.
PLEASE NOTE: La Route du Rock has been cancelled. Plans are moving forward for the 2021 Festival.

Red fireworks against a black sky
Fireworks over the Mediterranean

Aug 7, 15, 24, 2020: The Cannes Pyrotechnic Festival has the world’s greatest creators of the glorious shows. Fireworks over the sea at Cannes, but not just any old fireworks…
PLEASE NOTE: The Cannes Pyrotechnic Festival is cancelled but will take place in 2021.

August 15, 2020: Assumption. France takes another public holiday when shops and banks close, but happily not attractions, restaurants and bars.

Old glass decanters on table
L’Isle sur la Sorgue Antiques C: Jean-Louis Zimmermann/Wikimedia

August 13-16, 2020: The International Antiques Fair takes over the delightful Provence town of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, one of the great antique cities of France. The fair is more general than the April specialised fair, so you’re more likely to pick up a bargain, perhaps an old book, post cards, maps of the world, pottery and glassware.
PLEASE NOTE: The International Antiques Fair has been cancelled for 2020. It is planned for 2021.

Still life of bowl of plums
Still life by Louyse Moillon 1629. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

August 19-22, 2020: Aurillac Street Festival is one of the great summer festivals. It takes place in this Auvergne town which few have heard about. Around 500 national and international companies take part both during the day and in the evening when it can get pretty wild.
PLEASE NOTE: The Aurillac Street Festival has been cancelled for 2020 and is scheduled for 2021.

Boats full of rowers in fancy dress in the water at Sete
Water Festival at Sete. Sete Tourist Office

Mid-End August, 2020: It began in 1666. These days the Mediterranean village of Sète takes to the waters with its very long-running Saint-Louis patronal festival. This is no refined rowing or sailing festival but a full-on battle of water jousts between boats on the royal canal. It’s non-stop eating and drinking in between the sports tournaments and fireworks.

Stage with performers and crowds at Agen Featival
Agen Festival. H Lacombe/Ville d’Agen

August 28-30, 2020: In Agen this is the time for Prunes…at the Prune Festival in the south west France town that is famous for its…prunes. It’s free and fun with the more serious tasting of the first prunes of the year, a gourmet market venturing beyond the prune, evening concerts, street performers and sports.
PLEASE NOTE: The Prune Festival has been cancelled for 2020.
Check out the major annual food festivals in France.

August 29-September 20: Le Tour de France starts in Nice and ends in Paris. It’s been postponed this year from its traditional date of July.

Events throughout France in 2020:
Events in April 2020
Events in May 2020
Events in June 2020
Events in July 2020
Events in September 2020
Events in October 2020
Events in November 2020
Events in December 2020

Read more about Christmas markets in France
Read more about Christmas markets in north France
Read about the top food festivals in France