Commemorations and celebrations: our pick of events in France for 2014
We’ve already looked ahead to Paris in the springtime – et now, as we are les types ambitieux (and très helpful), we bring you France 2014.
War commemorations, film festivals, family fests, cycling and a prune festival are among hundreds of events in France this year, leaving us as excited as kids coming up to Noël , wondering just how quickly we can zip across the Channel every week or so and whether we should just give Easyjet/the ferry people all our money now to save time.
We have a wish list of events as long as a string of onions, but have picked a few of the main ones – with difficulty – that it would be le crying shame to miss:
WWI centenary and D-Day at 70
La France is the place to be this year for anyone interested in the two world wars: 2014 is the seventieth anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy and the centenary of the start of World War I. In Normandy, the anniversary of the biggest land/sea military operation in modern history is expected to see around five million people attend ( including her Maj and Phil ) and there are events planned in Normandy throughout the year .
A four-year long commemoration of World War I events, people and the famous French war sites of Flanders, the Somme and Ypres starts this year too: specific areas such as the Somme have information on the remembrance ceremonies, exhibitions, lectures and battlefield tours planned, while cententaire.org has info on regions to visit and events planned.
Where to stay
For summer hols, Camping Port’Land is in the the D-Day landing zone a few minutes from Omaha beach, and has an outdoor heated water centre, indoor heated pool and four fishing lakes. Two and three-bedroom holiday homes start from £56.31 — £71.44 a night.
Fête de la Musique
Alack, those easy-going French haven’t let us know the exact plans for this year’s World Music Day, but we’re confident that across the Channel is where we’ll spend the 2014 summer solstice. Fête de la Musique was started in 1982 to promote music by hosting free concerts and encouraging people to play music outdoors, and is now a happy happenstance all over the country every 21 June.
Check the regional press and local tourist offices once in France to see what’s on; we’re fairly certain that whichever campsite you pick you’ll find some way of contentedly dancing and warbling on the streets nearby. Our French team heartily recommends:
Make for the Place de la Republique for rock music, the Palais Royal courtyard for classical concerts and just about everywhere for dancing in the streets.
Where to stay
Camping Rambouillet : in the famous Rambouillet national forest and only half an hour from Paris by train (personally we like to come back to a peaceful berth rather than tripping over buskers at midnight). Pitches with optional electric for tents, tourers and motorhomes start from £107.59 for 19 – 26 June .
Those Bretons do like their music, as we know from a hol there and being among the buskers at midnight (citizens of Rennes, we are très désolée , but we’d had a good night in The Thirsty Artist). Follow your ears to hear Fête de la Musique events anywhere in Bretagne; if you’re around from 1 – 10 August Le festival Inter-Celtique de Lorient is also a must, bringing Celtic musicians to Brittany from all over the world. We’re having vague memories now of an impromptu céilidh session outside The Thirsy Artist too – again, citizens of Rennes, we are très désolée.
Where to stay
Of our many campsites in Brittany , Camping de la Roche Percée is especially recommended pour la musique: themed evening parties with singers, music and Breton dancing are organised in summer. A two-bedroom holiday home sleeping up to six starts from just £260.39 for 19 — 26 June .
Le of course. The 2014 Tour de France has piqued beaucoup interest in Britain this year as the Grand Départ pushes off from Yorkshire on 5 and 6 July, with a whopping one to three million cycling fans expected in Yorkshire to cheer the riders off. Follow the yellow brick road, sorry, Tour de France route all the way along its 2000 miles with our Tour de France routeplanner : click anywhere on the map to see up to ten campsites and holiday parks nearby.
Where to stay
Tour de France camping options are available all through July, such as family-friendly site Camping les Catalpas for Stages 19 and 20 (Maubourguet Pays du Vald'Adour/Bergerac, 25 July; Bergerac/Périgueux, 26 July): an electric grass pitch for tents, tourers and motorhomes starts from £36.20 for 25 – 27 July .
If you'd rather finish up here, stick around for a week, watch the rest of le Tour on le television then go sightseeing, Catalpas also has a two-bedroom holiday home from £478.78 for 19 – 26 July and 26 July – 2 August , sleeping up to six.
Fête du Vélo , 29 May – 1 June: we submit that one cannot go wrong with a festival that has the word 'feast' in it: the Feast of the Bike is a cycling festival from the Paris suburbs that ends with a picnic in the city centre. Like most of our cycling trips, then.
Or combine a Tour de France holiday with World War I remembrance – the route this year marks the war and passes through Flanders, Artois, Aisne, Champagne, Verdun and the Vosges mountains, with Stage 5 beginning in Ypres .
Bordeaux Wine Festival
‘…people who love wine, food, and culture are able to share these pleasures on Europe's largest square,’ say the organisers of the Bordeaux Wine Festival , which to us sounds le tickety-boo. The festival is from 26 — 29 June in the Esplanade des Quinconces and on the banks of the Garonne, with around 300,000 people expected this year to descend upon the 400,000 samples of wine and local produce. Best get there early.
Where to stay
To the north of Bordeaux at Carcans and ten minutes from Lacanau beach, Camping les Terrasses du Lac has two-bedroom holiday homes available from 21 — 28 June and 28 June — 5 July from £302.39. Or £604.78 for a whole fortnight in which to drink your haul.
We also hear from our French team, on heavy recommendation, that the Bergerac vineyards and wines of the Dordogne are well worth exploring: book a berth at a Dordogne campsite to find out for yourself. Most will have pools, summer activities and evening entertainment, such as Domaine des Chênes Verts with pitches from £99.96 (le bargain) and two-bedroom holiday homes from £386.39 for seven nights (open 12 April).
More foodie and drinkie fare
International Cheese and Wine Fair , 11 — 14 April
Big Prune Show , 29 — 31 August
More (we can’t help it, there are loads)
Cannes International Film Festival , 14 — 25 May
Stay nearby: Camping Au Vallon Rouge in La Colle-sur-Loup has electric grass pitches from £10.93 a night, on a park with pool and solarium.
British Film Festival , Dinard, 2 — 6 October
Anjou Festival , 10 June — 5 July
Stay nearby: La Boutinardière in the seaside town of Pornic has grass pitches with optional electric for tents, tourers and motorhomes from £15.96 a night, and cottages sleeping five and six from £226.79 for a week. Both are available in June and July.
Festival d’Avignon , France’s oldest festival, 4 — 27 July
French Open , Paris, 25 May — 8 June
Bird and Nature Festival , 19 — 27 April
Stay nearby: Domaine du Lieu Dieu is a family-friendly site with shepherd’s huts including bathroom and kitchenette from £84.05 a night for up to four, and furnished yurts with kitchenette from £75.64.
Bastille Day , 14 July, aka ‘We have watched too much Les Mis’ (if such a thing is possible). Like Fête de la Musique, every town, village and city will have something planned for Bastille Day: all you have to do is sit back, eat, drink and merrily plot revolution. Allons-y les barricades!