There’s an impressive list of events in France in January 2023. The year starts with New Years Day, a public holiday in France as in so many countries around the world. Throughout the month there are carnivals as the country begins to shake off the winter blues. But there are festivals of music and comic strips, official sales and fashion events.
Jan 6, 2023 Epiphany: This is the day when Christmas in France officially ends. The day when the Three Wise Men come from the east to visit the baby Jesus. This being France, it’s celebrated with a cake: La Galette des Rois which has a long and distinguished history. You’ll find the boulangeries full of these cakes. Most are modest, but check out the shops selling the best; some of the top French chefs make very expensive versions for those wishing to impress their friends.
Jan 7-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.
Jan 7-19, 2023: La Grande Odyssée Savoie Mont Blanc is a truly great event. One of the longest and most difficult dog sled races in the world, it happens in Savoie and Haute-Savoie in the Alps. Then 11 days of high speed racing take the world’s best mushers and their dogs through 22 resorts – a distance of 750 kms. It opens in Megève with fireworks, walks and hikes, mulled wine, giant tartiflettes to eat, films, exhibitions, a kid’s introduction to sled driving, igloo-building and more.
Here’s what the race is all about:
Jan 11-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.
Jan 14-15, 2023: the Fête de la Truffe is a glorious annual event entirely dedicated to the truffle. Held in Sarlat, Perigord, you get the chance to find out more about truffles with identification workshops, truffle hunting demonstration and cookery demonstrations from local chefs. Meet the truffle growers and gatherers and buy the famous ‘black diamonds’ in the main market place. And indulge your taste at one of the restaurants in the Place de la Liberté with ‘croustous’ tapas with truffle and foie gras.
Jan 17-22, 2023: Paris is all about fashion, so it’s right that the global capital of style celebrates its famous designers with Paris Fashion Week. Many of the events are open to the public.
The first fashion week is devoted to Menswear. Haute Couture gets its days of glory from Jan 23-26, 2023.
Jan 18-22, 2023: Cheval Passion Horse Show in Avignon is a must for horse lovers. Over 1,200 horses and riders perform for a total of 90 hours in the Parc des Expositions, showing every skill from trick riding to Western competitions. One of the great events is the Crinières d’Or. Acts created specially for the event are exciting, daring and spectacular. In addition to the acts, there are 250 exhibitors, 12 corrals, 12 display halls and more. It’s great for children too with a special Poney Passion.
Jan 15-Mar 26, 2023: Limoux Carnival in the Aude, Languedoc-Roussillon kicks off the French carnival season in style. 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 every since. This fabulous costumed event takes place every weekend to the end of March.
Jan 21-29, 2023: Premiers Plans Festival in Angers, Anjou is dedicated to new European talent in the cinema. Around 100 debut films are shown for a whole week. Over 70,000 people come to see the festival which is supported by the greats of French cinema from Gérard Depardieu to Jeanne Moreau.
Jan 24-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.
Jan 25-29, 2023: More film talent at the Fantasy Film Festival in the Gérardmer ski resort in the Vosges, Grand Est. Since 1994 the festival offers 100 screenings of 50 films. It includes around 40 new films plus retrospectives of different directors shown on 4 cinema screens.
Plus exhibitions, theatre and street performances, make-up stands, video games and window display competitions.
Jan 26-29, 2023: The International Comic Strip Festival is a great event where professionals from all over the world meet around 200,000 fans. Giant tents are full of stands taken by different publishers. There are signings, exhibitions, screenings, debates, conferences, meetings, concerts and competitions. For younger people, the youth area has a range of activities, games and all sorts of workshops.
Jan 26-29 2023: The Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain (Global Festival of the Circus of Tomorrow) in the Bois de Vincennes in Paris is one of the world’s biggest circus festivals. Tightrope walkers, clowns, jugglers, acrobats and trapeze artists from around the world show off their considerable skills. The French love circus talent; the 13-year old daughter of a friend of mine goes to a circus school frequently during term time at her normal school. I look forward to seeing her in Paris one day!
Jan 27-Feb 4, 2023: The Festival de Court Métrage (International Short Film Festival) started in 1979 at a student film club in Clermont-Ferrand. Today’s the world’s largest short film event has countless films shown in 13 cinemas 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!
Jan 28-29, 2023: Saint-Vincent Tournante Wine Celebration is an annual event in Burgundy. Winegrowers in different villages gather to thank the patron saint, Saint Vincent, for the previous year’s wine harvest and ask for his protection for the future harvest. It’s taken place since the Middle Ages.
Each year it’s a different village, hence the name Tournante (‘in rotation’). In 2023 it’s in Couchey in La Côte de Nuits. Famous names like Chablis and Nuits-Saint-Georges are featured but also smaller lesser known vintages are presented.
Events in France in 2023
Events in France in February 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