November is a good month to visit France and there’s plenty to do. Photography is to the fore, with top exhibitions in Paris and other cities. November celebrates Armistice Day at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month when the peace treaty was signed ending World War I.
In 2020 the Vendée Globe sets sail from Les Sables d’Olonne. And towards the end of the month, Christmas markets set up all around France. These events in November in France should entice you.
To Nov 3, 2020: The International Garden Festival at the beautiful Chaumont-sur-Loire Château in the Loire Valley comes to an end. It’s a series of gardens from international designers and always delivers some surprises.
To Nov 3, 2020: Paris Chocolate Fair at Porte de Versailles is just delicious…and surprising. 700 or so chocolatiers, pastry chefs and other professionals set out their wares. It’s totally irresistible, and very expensive. There are tasting sessions and cookery demonstrations, children’s pasty-making workshops and more. But most startling is the fashion show where dresses made of chocolate challenge your ideas of frocks.
To Nov 11, 2020: Dijon International Gastronomic Fair in Burgundy is a serious event. Plenty of demonstrations, tastings, workshops, stalls and of course a wonderful restaurant. Burgundy is well known for its top foods (Bresse chicken!), so don’t miss this one.
To Dec 31, 2020: The Paris Autumn Arts Festival covers everything, pitching Paris as a cultural capital. From dance to films, theatre to music; it’s all here for the tasting at locations from the Pompidou Centre to the Ménagerie de Verre.
November 1, 2020: All Saints’ Day (La Toussaint). It’s a great public holiday in France when many go away for the whole week before shutting up their second homes for the winter. Many shops, banks etc. are closed.
Nov 8, 2020: The most famous round the world, non-stop solo yachting race sets off from Les Sables d’Olonne at 1.02pm. It’s a grueling test of skill, endurance and sheer bravery. The start looks so pretty!
Nov 12-15, 2020: Paris Photo in part of the Grand Palais has over 140 galleries from 33 countries showing exceptional works. The largest international photo fair, there are talks and awards for photo books along with interviews and discussions with artists, gallery owners, collectors and the enthusiastic public. Even the catalogue is a work of art. Other galleries and museums in Paris highlight their photographic collections. The image shows Leigh Bowerie photographed by Fergus Greer from the Michael Hoppen Gallery, London.
Nov 13-15, 2020: Fotofever in the Carousel du Louvre in Paris showcases contemporary photography and has the aim of turning you into a collector. 900 international photographers with just 30-copy editions in all formats included works under 1,000 euros. A prize is given annually to a young art school graduate.
November 11, 2020: Armistice Day is a public holiday in France. Every village, town and city has parades to honour the L’armistice de la Première Guerre Mondiale commemorating the end of World War 1. At exactly 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month, Armistice Day, one-minute’s silence is held and France stops as people reflect on the past.
Nov 19-22, 2020: The International Festival of Animal and Nature Photography takes place in Montier-en-Der in Haute Marne, Grand Est, north east France. It’s a must for fans of nature, taking major environmental themes each year. Images are displayed inside and outside and there are talks and video screenings.
Nov 15–17, 2020: The Beaune Wine Auction is the most famous in the world. Taking place over a weekend, it’s not just the wine auction, conducted by Christie’s that is the attraction. All the major vineyards open their cellars for tastings, and there’s plenty to see and do. You must book tickets in advance.
Nov 19, 2020: At midnight the famous Nouveau Beaujolais is released. The Nouveau Beaujolais est arrive sign appears in restaurants all over the world and though the wine is not the greatest (far too young), it’s a fun evening. The best place to celebrate is Lyon, capital of the Beaujolais region in the Place des Terreaux. Organised by young wine producers, it’s a festival with fireworks, tastings, street theatre and more. All the local bouchons (restaurant in Lyon) offer special menus. The celebrations run over 5 days throughout the country. It’s one of the major global celebrations of events in November in France.
If you’re not in France, you can officially buy the wine wherever you are at 12.01am on the day of release.
Last week of November-Dec 3, 2020: (Dates to be confirmed) The Paris Horse Show (Salon du Cheval de Paris) sees around 450 exhibitors and 2,000 horses competing at Paris Nord Villepinte, Paris. Everything the horse enthusiast could want with great competitions plus the Night of the Horse equestrian show and the Arabian Horse World Championships. It’s more lighthearted with the western riding and events like the Cup d’attelage where chariots compete in races and the children’s village.
Late November–December 24: Christmas Markets take place all over France. Strasbourg is particularly important; in north France make for Arras. It’s a good way to celebrate events in November in France just in time for Christmas.
Read more about Christmas markets in France
Read more about Christmas markets in north France
Events throughout France in 2020: