July in France can be blisteringly hot so go prepared. But it’s a great month with festivals in full swing throughout the country. And of course Bastille Day. Here are a few events in July in France 2020 to note.

Sting with guitar singing into a microphone solo
Sting – no need to say any more. C: Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

To Jul 24, 2020: The Festival of Nîmes kicks off with Sting and includes other top names like Taylor Swift, Lynyrd Skynyrd and more.

To July 31, 2020: Les Nuits de Fourvière in the Gallo-Roman theatres of Lyon is a magical feast of theatre, music, dance, opera and circus. Around 60 performances are watched by over 130,000 spectators.

roman theatre, Orange looking at the stage
The Roman Theatre at Orange. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

To Aug 1, 2020:  Chorégies d’Orange, the oldest festival in France is the time to enjoy, opera and music in the extraordinary Roman amphitheater in Orange, near Avignon.

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.

La Gacilly photo festival. Man in front of photos outdoors
La Gacilly photo festival.

To Sept 30, 2020: La Gacilly Photo Festival has been delighting and astonishing visitors to this small town in Morbihan, Brittany.

To Sept 20, 2020: Rencontres d’Arles (Arles Meetings) is a huge international photo expo, now 50 years old. Most of the events take place in the opening week, but the exhibits remain on view to the end of the show.

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

To Oct 10, 2020: 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 with white chateau in background and gardens in front
Chaumont-sur-Loire © E. Sander

To Nov 3, 2020: The International Garden Festival at the beautiful 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. It’s a series of gardens from international designers and always delivers some surprises.

Caracassone between the ramparts at night with tower in distance all lit up
City ramparts in Carcassonne © Paul Palau

July 21-31, 2020: The Festival of Carcassonne takes place in this magical UNESCO city with 120 shows, including 80 free ones at the Off stages. Performances run from Madame Butterfly to James Blunt.

Dark stage with performers and papal palace b ackdrop avignon festival
Avignon Festival

July 3-23, 2020: The Festival d’Avignon is an important, and wide-ranging, theater, music and dance festival throughout the city. You can get a day by day Spectators’ Guide at all venues in early July, and information on the Festival and Off Festival events at the Avignon Tourist Office.

Linen Festival prepares for the fashion show.

July 3-5, 2020: You’ll be amazed what you can do with linen. Discover more at the Flax and Needle Festival on the Normandy coast. Communes in Caux open up for exhibitions of traditional and contemporary textile art, fashion shows, a tour of the Terre de Lin factory and of course the chance to buy.

July 4-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.

Geraint Thomas in red vest and Egan Benal in yellow at Tour de France 2019
Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas at the 2019 Tour de France Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

To July 19, 2020: The most famous cycling race in the world, the Tour de France, sets off from Paris then makes its way around France. Either make sure you see it, or if you’re in a hurry to get somewhere near or along its route, take care! I have been caught up in road closures for a whole day.

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

July 6–Sept 1, 2020: Paris Plage fills up the banks of the Seine with imported sand, parasols, volley ball, kiosks and a beach vibe.

July 12-14, 2020: Electrobeach Festival of electronic music in Port-Barcarès, in Pyrénées-Orientales. Concerts on the beach and in the unusual setting of the gardens of the Lydia. Once an ocean liner from the 1930s and now anchored in the sand as a museum. One of Europe’s biggest electronic music festivals attracts an audience of around 150,000.

View of stage at Juan les Pins jazz festival with sea in background
Juan-les-Pins Jazz. Mary Anne Evans

July 9-22, 2020: The 59th Annual Jazz à Juan Festival takes place in a stunning setting overlooking the Mediterranean in Juan-les-Pins on the Cote d’Azur. Lots of great Jazz Off free events throughout Antibes and Juan-les-Pins. It’s one of my favorites with the sea as a background. If you’re there on Bastille Day, some of the greatest fireworks over Cannes. For more information, check the Antibes/Juan Les Pins website.

Red fireworks against a black sky
Fireworks over the Mediterranean

July 14, 21 and 29 and Aug 7, 15 and 24, 2020: The Cannes Pyrotechnic Festival has the world’s greatest creators making the show. Fireworks over the sea at Cannes, but not just any old fireworks…

Fireworks over the Eiffel Tower
Bastille Day Fireworks in Paris. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons Yann Caradec

July 14, 2020: Bastille Day is France’s greatest holiday with celebrations throughout the country. Watch out for local events and fireworks. And also start watching out for traffic jams; it’s traditionally the start of France’s national one-month long summer vacation. Of all the events in July, and throughout the year, this is the best known.

Close up of man standing with armour and hand on medieval weapon
Cordes-sur-Ciel Festival L’Oriflamme

Mid-July (date to be announced): The Grand Falconer’s Medieval Festival is a fabulous medieval festival in Cordes-sur-Ciel, a lovely small town in the Tarn. The middle ages take over the town day and night; it’s quite a spectacle.
If you’re in the Tarn check out Toulouse-Lautrec and the Tarn. And don’t miss a visit to the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum in Albi.

Crowd sitting in Place Massena at Nice off Jazz Festival
Nice Jazz off festival in Place Massena Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

July 16-21, 2020: Nice Jazz Festival. This has always been one of the greats since it started in 1948. Two stages with simultaneous events just off the Promenade des Anglais, though I have to admit that I preferred it when it was in Cimiez.

village of Gigondas of stone houses perched on a hill from afar
Gigondas in the Var, Provence. Wikimedia Commons J M Rosier

July 20, 2020: Gigondas sur Table offers a wonderful meal (just €50 per person, €15 per child) cooked by five Provence guest chefs paired with top local wines from 40 growers. It takes place in the shaded square of Gigondas from 8-11pm. You must book. Tel: +33 (0)4 90 37 79 60 or book on the website. I am going to try to get to this cut price gourmet extravaganza!

July 18-Aug 18, 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.

Purple lavender fields in Provence
Lavender in Provence. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

July 18-23, 2020: The 29th Medieval Music Festival is at the magical Abbaye du Thoronet in the Var, Provence. We have a lot to thank those medieval monks for.

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

Read more about Christmas markets in France
Read more about Christmas markets in north France

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