August in France is the height of the summer when all the world seems to play. And this year the events are piling up as so many were cancelled in 2020. The seaside resorts are busy but you can always escape into the deep rural countryside of the Auvergne or to the mountains in France and the cooler air. Check out these top events in France in August.
PLEASE NOTE: Some of these events may be cancelled due to Covid-19. I will try to update as I get news, but keep an eye out for changes as they are announced.
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.
Events in France continuing into August, 2021
To Aug 18, 2021: 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.
To Aug 22, 2021: Saint-Etienne Design Festival. Every two years since 1998, the city of Saint-Étienne has hosted the International Design Biennial. It’s organised by the Saint-Étienne Regional School of Fine Arts and produced and managed by the Cité du Design centre. It promotes contemporary design in this unexpected former industrial city. Saint-Etienne in the Auvergne is the only French city designated as a UNESCO-listed Creative City of Design, joining Berlin, Bilbao, Montreal and Beijing.
Exhibitions throughout the city, workshops, conferences and meetings with design professionals make up an exciting programme.
To Sept 12, 2021: Le Voyage à Nantes takes you around this gorgeous west France city via works of art, some odd, others more conventional but always interesting. They’re on the streets, in the squares and in places you don’t expect. 30 works start at the former LU factory and take you on a tour of the city. In the evening…more concerts!
To Sept 2021: La Gacilly Photo Festival has been delighting and astonishing visitors to this small town in Morbihan, Brittany since 2004. For three months, between May and September, the festival showcases hundreds of large format photographs in the parks, green maze, squares and flowery streets of the small town.
PLEASE NOTE: There is no definite date or confirmation on the website.
To Sept 26, 2021: 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.
To Oct 10, 2021: Chartres en lumières sees this wonderful city in the Loire Valley illuminated for its annual festival of light. It’s nightly from dusk to 1am so there’s no excuse to miss it.
To Oct 18, 2021: Jeff Koons at MuCEM, Marseille. Some of the most famous works by American artist Jeff Koons come from the extraordinary private collection of François Pinault to Marseille. The exhibition explores the relationship between certain works and everyday objects, photographs and documents from MuCEM’s collection. It will include some of Jeff Koon’s best known works like his sculpture Balloon Dog, 1994-200, and the painting Dutch Couple 2007.
To Nov 2, 2021: International Garden Festival at Chaumont-sur-Loire Château in the Loire Valley is like the Chelsea Flower Show of France, except that it goes on for just over 7 months. The Château and grounds are lovely and the festival of a series of gardens from international designers always delivers some surprises. This year the theme is spot on: Biomimcry in the Garden. As the Director Chantal Colleu-Dumond says ‘Understanding and imitating living systems and, in particular, natural ecosystems is one of the keys to our future’.
To end Aug: Paris Plage fills up the banks of the Seine with imported sand, parasols, volley ball, kiosks and a beach vibe.
Jul 31-Aug 6, 2021: Le Festival du film de Lama, in Corsica takes place in a medieval village. It shows around 20 feature film premières, programs for children, a short film competition and documentary screenings that take the theme of the rural world in France and abroad. The festival now in its 28th year, takes place at three different places: the swimming pool (great views of the mountains), Place de l’Umbria and the Mercatu in the village’s centre (cushions and pillows provided).
Jul 31-Aug 11, 2021: Saint-Céré Festival takes place in the spectacular town as well as other wonderful venues in the Lot like Castelnau Bretenoux Castle. Over 150 artists offer all kinds of different entertainment from classic to contemporary.
Events in France starting in August 2021
Aug 3-8, 2021: Festival du Bout du Monde, Landaouedec prairie, Crozon Peninsula, Brittany. In the Parc Régional d’Armorique this is a truly cosmopolitan festival with music and musicians from around the world performing on three stages.
Aug 6-8, 2021: Font’Arts Street Theatre & Music Festival, Pernes-les-Fontaines, Vaucluse. Around 40 different companies perform on the streets and square of this pretty medieval town. They offer dance, circus, theatre, mime, juggling and storytelling, much of it directed at the young. It’s a pretty wacky festival, so be prepared for some strange sights, and possible interaction!
Aug 6-9, 2021: Bridiers Historical Fresco, La Souterraine, Creuse. The ambitious project uses 400 actors wearing over 2,500 costumes to take you through over 6,000 years of history. Starting at the end of the Prehistoric era you travel…rapidly…to 1945. You see a tribe from the Neanderthal period, Romans occupying the place, the Bacchus festival, the Hospitallers, boarding Hermione to go and fight the English in the US, the 1880s, 1917 trenches and more. And it’s all done with cavalry, horse-drawn carriages, old vehicles, pyrotechnics, flashes and bangs. Not bad.
6-15 August 2021: Festival Interceltique de Lorient, Lorient, Brittany. This is a really significant festival with around 700,000 people from all over the world attending. They come for the best Celtic music, a pretty convivial atmosphere, 200 events, and 5,000 performers around the city. It’s the 50th anniversary this year, so expect the best of the Celtic world.
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: There is no official confirmation on the website at the moment.
Aug 8-14, 2021: Rolex Fastnet Race. The race will finish in 2021 in Cherbourg on the Cotentin Peninsula in Brittany as the city is bigger than Plymouth and can take the larger numbers of boats taking part. Run by the British Royal Ocean Racing Club, it starts in Cowes on the Isle of Wight, races to Fastnet and back. If you’re in Cherbourg, make your way to the Plage Verte where a giant screen will be set up to follow the race the whole way through.
Aug 8-20, 2021: 46th Festival International de Châteauroux, Indre, Central France. This darc (dance, art, rhythm, culture) festival is different – a huge international workshop run by 34 professionals in conjunction with concerts. It covers every form of dance from classical to modern jazz, Argentian tango to Indian, Flamenco to African dance, Hip Hop and a whole lot more (23 disciplines in total).
Aug 9-15, 2021: Le Festival de Confolens, Charentes, Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Since 1957 Confolens’ Festival has attracted around 600 artists from all over the world. Different cultures present their arts and popular traditions and the whole place echoes to folk music and dance. Catch Yannick Noah, professional tennis player turned hugely popular singer on Aug 9. It takes place throughout the town, and there’s a great ‘World Market’ held throughout so you can get your Peruvian pipes and Japanese dolls here.
Aug 11-15, 2021: Festival des Filets Bleus, Concarneau, Brittany. One of the great traditional Breton festivals that proudly proclaims its Breton patrimony, this is the 100th festival of the Festival of the Blue Nets. The costumes are spectacular; there’s a parade, street entertainment, great Celtic music and dance, sea shanties, nautical jousting, stalls selling local produce and a restaurant. Most of the events are free. What more could you want?
Aug 13-15, 2021: Festival du Chant de Marin, Paimpol, Brittany. The Sea Shanty Festival pays homage to a very old tradition. Sea shanties were originally a little like blues music in the US; they were sung as the sailors worked giving rhythm to their actions. And on shore they provided entertainment and told stories of the sea.
An international art is celebrated here, along with a festival of old ships. The wooden vessels, nearly 100 of them, line the quays. The day before the festival starts, they perform a foghorn concert. It’s quite something.
PLEASE NOTE: Sadly this has been cancelled for 2021.
August 15, 2021: Assumption. France takes another public holiday when shops and banks close, but happily not attractions, restaurants and bars.
Aug 16-20, 2021: Jazz a Ramatuelle, Var, Provence. Head to the south for a swing jazz festival. American and French jazz musicians to the fore with both well established and the new generation taking part. There’s also a Fringe festival where you can listen to local musicians for free nightly. It all takes place in this lovely Provencal village near St Tropez.
Aug 17-30, 2021: Festival Berlioz, La Côte-Saint-André, Isère, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. This is one of the biggest classical music festivals in France, held in the town where the composer was born in 1803. Around 50 events take place showcasing works from the Romantic era. Most are in the courtyard of the Louis XI castle; the rest including chamber music, contemporary music and minstrels, are found in the medieval hall and churches.
Aug 18-24, 2021: La Route du Rock, Saint Malo, Brittany. A great festival offering contemporary sounds in a medieval fortified setting. They are at Fort Saint-Père, Bon Secours beach and the Palais du Grand Large in the beautiful maritime city.
Aug 19-21, 2021: Le Festival de Musique, La Chaise-Dieu, Haute-Loire, Auvergne. This festival is close to my heart. It takes place near where I live in different villages and towns. It has some of the best classical music you can find and the settings are magical, from the abbey in La Chaise-Dieu where the painted Dance of Death sends shivers down your spine to local medieval churches and the cathedral in Le Puy-en-Velay.
Aug 19-24, 2021: Saint-Louis patronal festival, Sète, Hérault, Occitanie. It began in 1666 when the port opened. 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.
Aug 21-22, 2014: Festival de la Saint-Loup, Guingamp, Côtes-d’Armor, Brittany. More Celtic culture in one of the oldest festivals in Brittany founded in the 19th century. It hosts the national Breton dancing championship, so expect the best. There are workshops and wrestling, traditional costume competitions, regional pipe bands (bagads) and more at this great celebrations of the Celts.
Aug 21-22, 24 Hours of Le Mans race, near Le Mans in the Loire Valley, always captures the world’s imagination. It began in 1923 and covers a road circuit of just over 8 miles (13kms) in Le Mans.
Aug 27-29, 2021: Rock en Seine, Paris, Île-de-France. The last great rock event to be held in France, this is a real crowd drawer. Over 100,000 gather in Saint-Cloud, on the western outskirts of Paris to hear music on four stages. It’s a wonderful setting in grounds designed by the 17th-century garden designer Le Nôtre for great music at the end of the summer.
More Events in France in 2021
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Events in France in April 2021
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Events in France in June 2021
Events in France in July 2021
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