Here are the top events in France in February 2023. And there’s so much more than Valentine’s Day to celebrate.
To Feb 1, 2023: Rallye de Monte-Carlo Historique is a great international event. Legendary cars start the race to Monaco in Reims in Champagne then from different cities on different dates. They come from Torino, Oslo, Brooklands (UK) and Hamburg. routes. Like the Tour de France cycle race, it consists of different stages testing different skills.
The whole event ends with the Prize Ceremony and Gala Night in the Salles des Etoiles at Monte-Carlo Sporting Club.
To Feb 5, 2023: The Festival de Court Métrage (International Short Film Festival) started in 1979 at a student film club in Clermont-Ferrand. Today’s it’s the world’s largest short film events. 13 cinemas show films to professionals, amateurs and film lovers. It’s seen the start of many a career for actors, directors, producers and technicians and has become the second biggest film festival in France after Cannes.
As in previous years, please indulge me. I am ruthlessly promoting it as my son starred in a film which was shown here in 2008: Ralph, First Love Hurts. He’s no longer in the acting profession but as a proud mum (with a house in the Auvergne), what else can I do? It was filmed in Marseille and is full of delightful touches.
Here’s the film:
To Feb 7, 2023: Les Soldes d’Hiver. This is the French sale season and the chance for some great bargains. And they are genuine as the January Sales dates are subject to strict law. You will however find that Meurthe-et-Moselle, Meuse, Moselle, Vosges, Landes and Pyrenéees-Atlantiques set their own dates so if you’re planning a shopping bonanza in any of these departments, check first on the government website.
More about sales and discount shopping in France.
To Mar 12, 2023: Dunkirk Carnival in Nord-Pas de Calais is one of those events when the French appear to go totally bonkers. You have to be there to appreciate the extraordinary 300-year old party as it sweeps through the town. The carnival celebrates the boats setting off for voyages to the rich fishing grounds off Newfoundland and Iceland – voyages which lasted for months.
Shrove Tuesday is the highlight with musicians dressed as fishermen leading the parades, complete with ‘giants’ and 450 kilos of wrapped, smoked herrings hurled from the balcony of the City Hall. As I wrote, bonkers.
The takes place at weekends only with a grand ball on Saturday night and music in the streets on Sunday.
To Mar 26, 2023: Limoux Carnival in the Aude, Languedoc-Roussillon. For over 700 years it’s been celebrating a group of local millers who, having paid off their taxes to the local monks, roamed through the streets, handing out flour and treats to the locals. And they’ve been doing it ever since. This fabulous costumed event takes place every weekend to the end of March.
Events starting in February 2023
Feb 1-5, 2023: Nantes’ classical music festival La Folle Journée has been held annually since 1995. For five days there are around 250 concerts of fairly short duration (45 minutes) at an affordable price, encouraging those new to classic music.
Feb 2-5, 2023: Bordeaux Show Jumping Contest is something every lover of such events should enjoy. Top class equestrian events featuring international riders. Events include Driving and the derby that takes the riders over cross-country obstacles in an indoor ring. The World Show Jumping Cup is the major event; the Jumping l’Expo horse-themed general show involving around 100 exhibitors is always exciting.
Feb 3-5, 2023: Salon des Vignerons. Held in Calais (one of my favourite French cities), this is the chance for those in the north of France (not a wine-producing region) to taste great wines from the rest of the country. Try wines from Alsace to Champagne, the Jura to Burgundy. It’s a fun, fairly small, low-key event with tastings, the chance to talk to wine producers and good food.
Feb 3-5, 2023: Enduropale, Pas de Calais: Wild bike racing on the beaches at Le Touquet, Stella and Merlimont attracts around 150,000 spectators to watch the dare devils race through the sand.
Feb 3-5, 2023: La Percée du Vin Jaune takes place in the Jura in a different village each year. In 2023 it’s in the small village of Voiteur. If you haven’t tasted the famous yellow wine of the region, now’s your chance. It’s a very specific taste, reminding me more of a fortified wine like sherry. There are four appellations: Château-chalon (AOC), Arbois (AOC), l’Étoile (AOC) and Côtes-du-Jura.
Your ticket gives you admission, a tasting glass and ten tasting tickets at any of the cellars that are open. There are brass bands, regional specialities, an exhibition and concerts.
Feb 3-5, 2023: Face Cachée is a different way of discovering Paris. Around 100 sites usually closed to visitors or places that are open but are offering a different experience are accessible. Try the belfry at the Gare de Lyon for instance. But you don’t know which one until you buy your ticket. Choose from 3 experiences though that is also pretty impenetrable. Sweet secrets? It’s very popular so buy your ticket as soon as they go online.
Feb 8-12, 2023: Mimosa Festival Mandelieu La Napoule. This popular event in Mandelieu near Tanneron the largest mimosa forest in Europe has taken place since 1931. Flower and light parades, Miss Mandelieu contest, a concert and of course a special dinner. Each year has a theme. In 2023 it’s La Grande Course Autour du Monde inspired by Blake Edward’s film released in 1965.
Feb 10-26, 2023: Nice Carnaval, PACA. The theme for 2023 is Le Roi des Tresors du Monde (The King of the World’s Treasures). Plenty to do and see particularly as this is the 150th anniversary. Taking over the streets and square, the Carnival procession and the Battle of the Flowers have to be seen to be believed. Place Masséna is at the heart of the celebrations as extraordinary floats parade past the stands while street art, bands and performances entertain.
Feb 11-26, 2023: The Menton Lemon Festival which began in 1934 is as colourful as ever. Over 300 professionals using 145 tonnes of citrus fruits (yes, that’s right) create extraordinary citrus-themed floats. They parade around the Promenade du Soleil on citrus-themed floats. Dancers and folk groups entertain and throw tons of confetti. The central Biovès Gardens are transformed with temporary sculptures in those bright orange and yellow coloured fruits, some as high as 10 metres. This year it’s a Rock and Roll theme.
Feb 14th, 2023: St Valentine’s Day. This is as well celebrated in France as elsewhere; after all the country is known as a pretty romantic place. Check for special events where you are. Champagne corks pop and the restaurants fill up. For something different, visit one of the Champagne houses in Reims.
Feb 17-23, 2023: The Granville Carnaval is, like the one at Dunkirk, all about fish and cod in particular. It began 146 years ago when the local fishermen set off for the Grand Banks fisheries off Newfoundland and partied before they went It’s a great event, with 40 or so floats, 3,000 participants and over 150,000 visitors. It rivals Dunkirk for its downright eccentricities.
Feb 18, 19, 2023: Le Corso Fleuri Bormes-les-Mimosas Flower Procession. The traditional floral procession in the medieval village of Bormes-les-Mimosas with its dozen floats on the last weekend in February is a sight to see. 12 tonnes of branches and 80,000 flowers are woven into the decorations on the floats. A brass band helps it all fly along. There’s a small charge and the festivities go on well into the early hours, ending with the flower battle.
Feb 22-26, 2023: Mulhouse Carnaval in Alsace fills the streets with decorated floats and bands of pipes and drums. Events include a ball in a marquee, an international cavalcade and of course the election of the carnival king and queen. This year’s theme is the 70 Seventies, the Power of Flowers.
Feb 24-26, 2023: Cannes Festival International des Jeux (international Games Festival) began in 1987. Game designers, publishing companies and fellow game-players come here for traditional games, classics, board games, videos, simulation games, collectors items and more. Watch the gaming competitions and get your games signed.
Feb 25-Mar 5, 2023: Porte de Versailles International Agricultural Show is the biggest agricultural event in France. It’s been held since 1964. For anyone interested in agriculture it’s a must with over international 1,000 exhibitors from around the world. They show off 3,000 animals, a cornucopia of fruit and vegetables, as well as agricultural items and more. Four areas take in livestock farming and its related industries; gastronomic products from France and elsewhere; cultivation and the plant industries; and agricultural services and trades.
Events in France in 2023
Events in France in January 2023
Events in France in March 2023
Events in France in April 2023
Events in France in May 2023
Events in France in June 2023
Events in France in July 2023
Events in France in August 2023
Events in France in September 2023
Events in France in October 2023
Events in France in November 2023
Events in France in December 2023
More about great Food Festivals in France
Public holidays in France
Here’s a quick guide to France, its regions and departments to help you find where the events are taking place.
Regions of France