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 May in France in 2020.

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.

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 Château. Daniel Jolivet

To Nov 3, 2020: The International Garden Festival takes place at the beautiful Chaumont-sur-Loire château in the Loire Valley. It’s like the Chelsea Flower Show of France, except that it goes on for just over 7 months. The series of gardens from international designers always surprises.

Nimes Romane games with charioteer with chariot and 2 grey horses racing in the arena
Nimes Roman Games © V. Chambon

May 1-3, 2020: Roman Games in Nîmes, south of France. This is an extraordinary spectacle in a country which is pretty good at spectacles. This year Nîmes celebrates with chariot races, gladiator battles, military parades, themed tours, exhibitions and circus shows (ludi) – all in costume!

Jodie Foster, George Clooney and stars at the Cannes Film Festival
The stars come out at Cannes Film Festival. Public Domain via Wikimedia

May 12-23, 2020: Cannes Film Festival. The most famous film festival in the world is for professionals, but many go along to try to see the stars, and watch films at the Beach Cinema, open to all. It’s one of the major events in May. This year Spike Lee is President of the all-important jury.

Musee d’Orsay, Paris. CC BY-SA 4.0

May 16, 2020: European Museum Night where over 1,200 French museums take part. Most of the offer free admission from 6pm to midnight.  

May 18-June 7, 2020: 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 21-24, 2020: Monaco Grand Prix. Petrol heads’ delight held since 1929 around the steep streets of Monaco.

May 22-24, 2020: 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.

May 27-June 1, 2020: Nimes Pentecost Feria has bullfights, with many of the bulls from the Camargue. There are brass bands and folk groups in the streets; exhibits and a free concert. There’s also a show of horses.

May 30-June 14, 2020: 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.
Don’t miss the air show with vintage aircraft at Arromanches.
For accommodation near the D-Day Landing Beaches, check my article here.

Events throughout France in 2020:

Events in April 2020
Events in June 2020
Events in July 2020
Events in August 2020
Events in September 2020
Events in October 2020
Events in November 2020
Events in December 2020

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