May is a wonderful month in France and one of the most popular months for those wanting to see the sights without too many crowds. The weather in very good even in the north of France and the parks and gardens are at their Spring best. Look out for these major events in France in May 2021.

But events in France in May 2021 will continue to be patchy as the pandemic plays havoc with schedules. Events which were ready to go ahead have been postponed for another year. Here is a short list of events in France in May 2021. Check before you go for any amendments to events.

But it’s now been announced that the most famous event in France in May 2021, the Cannes Film Festival, is postponed. The most likely date for the festival is now between July 5th and 25th.

PLEASE NOTE: I have researched as much as I can, and noted any changes.

May 1, 2012:  Labor Day (Fête due Travail or Fête du Premier Mais. As with other French public holidays, some attractions and museums will close.

Photo head on of white polar bear on the snow in the Somme Festival of Birds and Nature
Photo in the Somme Bird and Nature Festival © Michel Rawicki

To May 2, 2021Festival de l’oiseau et de la nature (Bird and Nature Festival). The beautiful Somme Bay is the location for this great event. It’s perfect for families, with trips on foot, on horseback, in a carriage, a kayak or boat introducing you to the environment, the birds, seals in the Bay and more.  

Exhibition space with industrial style ceiling and chairs mounted on a wall with 2 people looking at it
Saint Etienne Design Festival

To Aug 22, 2021Saint-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.

PLEASE NOTE: This festival has been postponed to 2022.

Chartres lit up with bridge illuminated and people walking across river
Chartres lit up Chartres Tourist Office/F. Delaunay

To Oct 12, 2021: Chartres en lumières sees this wonderful city illuminated for its annual festival of light. It’s nightly so there’s no excuse to miss it.  

Chaumont-sur-Loire Gardens with installation by Yo Kongjian showing hanging red threads over large terracotta pots
Chaumont-sur-Loire Gardens with installation by Yo Kongjian

To Nov 2, 2021International 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 really 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’.

Sarsara performing at the Bourges Festival showing the singer in huge red dress, half figure with black background. Dramatic
Sarsara performing at the Bourges Festival © Sarsara

May 4-9, 2021: Printemps de Bourges Festival. Each year the city of Bourges in the Loire Valley fills its seven concert halls and marquees with music makers. Both famous and emerging musical talent entertain with a programme that includes free stages on the banks of Lake Auron and in around 20 bars in town. There’s also a second Fringe Festival with street artists everywhere.

Jeff Koons Hanging Heart art work showing huge red inflated hanging heart of shny red metal hanging
Jeff Koons Hanging Heart 2000 Pinault Collection © Jeff Koons, photo © Palazzo Grassi ORCH orsenigo_chemollo

May 5-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. It 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.

Jazz sous les Pommiers in Normandy festival with street band in front of crowd with church behind. One man with tuba wrapped around him, plus others playing brass instruments
Jazz sous les Pommiers Festival Wikimedia/Selbymay

May 7-15, 2021: Jazz Sous les Pommiers (Jazz under the apple trees). Great jazz festival in its 38th year at Coutances, in Normandy.

PLEASE NOTE: This has been postponed to August 25-29, 2021.

Black and white photo of the Liberation of Paris August 1944 with Charles de Gaulle leading a huge procession frm the Arc de Triomphe
Liberation of Paris, August 1944 Photo in IWM, London

May 8, 2021:  VE, Victory in Europe Day (Fête de la Victoire 1945). You may find all sorts of commemorative events in France from small towns to big cities.

Line up of stars at the Cannes Film Festival on red carpet steps
Cannes Film Festival Wikimedia Commons/GabboT/2.0

May 11-22, 2021: Cannes Film Festival. The 74th edition of the most famous film festival in the world is for professionals. Prizes include the best film, best director, best actor, best actress, Jury Prize, Grand Prix and the famous Palme D’Or. Main screenings take place in the Festival Centre on the Boulevard de la Croisette. Many go to Cannes to try to see the stars, and watch films at the outdoor Beach Cinema, open to all.

PLEASE NOTE: The Cannes Film Festival has been postponed to July 6-31, 2021.

Musee d’Orsay, Paris. CC BY-SA 4.0

May 15, 2021: European Museum Night where over 1,200 French museums take part. Most of them offer free admission from 6pm to midnight.  

Sepia old photo of 19th century knife makers in crowded factory
Knife Production in Thiers in local museum

May 15-16, 2021: Coutellia is an extraordinary knife-makers event that attracts exhibitors from all over the world. It takes place in Thiers, one of the great knife-making centres in the Auvergne. There’s more about Thiers and Coutellia on MechTraveller’s excellent website.

Roland Garros Wikimedia/Thierry Caro/4.0

May 17-June 4, 2021: Roland Garros taking place in Paris is one of the 4 major Grand Slam tennis tournaments. It started in 1925 and is played out on 20 clay courts.

May 20-23, 2021: Monaco Grand Prix. Petrol heads’ delight held since 1929 around the steep streets of Monaco

Pointe du Hoc bunker looking out onto sea part of Normandy Landing Beaches
Pointe du Hoc Bunker © Alastair McKenzie

May 29-June 15, 2021: The annual D-Day Festival honours and remembers the allied forces and the successful June 6 landings on the Normandy beaches. There are over 80 separate events taking place all along the coast and inland as well.

For accommodation near the D-Day Landing Beaches, check my article here.

May 23-24, 2021: Pentecost or Whit Sunday and Whit Monday are official French holidays when shops, businesses, banks and more close so everybody can party.

Official logo of Paris book fair 2021
Paris Book Fair 2021

May 28-31, 2021: Paris Book Fair is a big event with several different stages presenting events of interest to both the general public and the experts. Over 1,600 visitors and around 3,000 authors attend.

May 30:  Ascension Day when some attractions might be closed.

More Events in France in 2021

Major Events and New Attractions opening in France in 2021

Events in France in January 2021
Events in France in February 2021
Events in France in March 2021
Events in France in April 2021
Events in France in June 2021
Events in France in July 2021
Events in France in August 2021
Events in France in September 2021
Events in France in October 2021

More about great Food Festivals in France

French Public Holidays