Provencal Festivals & Events

Did you realize that Provence is called the land of festivals?

JANUARY

Truffle Festival
What delicious fun! A truffle competition, truffles on the lunch menu, and then a demonstration of truffle hunting with dogs and pigs. When not otherwise occupied, browse a market of local products and crafts. The weekly truffle market is held on Tuesday afternoons from December to mid-March.
Office de Tourisme
du Pays de Lalbenque
rue du Marché aux Truffes
462230 - LALBENQUE
Tél. 05 65 31 50 08
fax 05 65 31 63 13
www.lalbenque.net
January - late

Truffle Markets
Truffles are truly a gastronomic delight. But beware! Because of the high cost of truffles, there are fakes readily available from scam-artists. The Chinese fungus (Chinese truffle) looks like the black truffle but doesn't taste like it. It doesn't smell like a truffle either - but if it is placed with collection of real French truffles, the Chinese fungus will absorb enough of the smell to fool most amateurs.

Cheval Passion
The Cheval Passion or the Avignon Horse fair is a major event in Provence. Since 1986, the Cheval Passion has became one of the principal equestrian demonstrations in Europe.
Avignon Organization
LP 88 - 84006 AVIGNON
Avignon
Tel: 04 90 84 02 04
www.cheval-passion.com
January

Truffle Mass
In January, on the Sunday of Saint Antoine, a Truffle Mass (la messe de la truffe) is held in the little village church, near the café. The 50 year old event begins with a procession of the Brotherhood of the Knights of the Black Diamond. At the Truffle-Mass Sunday, the church collection is for truffles instead of cash. The church collection of the 10:30 am Mass is taken in truffles which are then auctioned at the end of the service. The event is followed by an aperitif and a meal (of course, containing truffles).
Richerenches
For more info on the Truffle Mass, click here.
Sunday of Saint Antoine

Truffle and Wine Festival
Carpentras
January - last Sunday.

 

FEBRUARY

Mimosa Festival
Mandelieu-La Napoule goes mimosa-crazy! For ten days the town celebrates with dancing, singing and theatre. At the end of this time, the Mimosa Queen reigns over a spectacular parade of flowered floats - the highlight of the event.
Mandelieu-La Napoule
Tel: 04 93 49 95 31
Click here for website.
February- mid

Menton Lemon Festival
One of the Côte d'Azur's most popular (and nicest smelling) events in France's lemon capital. You won't believe what they make out of lemons and other citrus fruits. The fruity floats parade through the streets every Sunday during the festival and are visible in the Jardins Biovès daily.
Tel: 04 92 41 76 95
info@feteducitron.com
www.feteducitron.com
February - mid to end

Truffle Markets
Truffles are truly a gastronomic delight. But beware! Because of the high cost of truffles, there are fakes readily available from scam-artists. The Chinese fungus (Chinese truffle) looks like the black truffle but doesn't taste like it. It doesn't smell like a truffle either - but if it is placed with collection of real French truffles, the Chinese fungus will absorb enough of the smell to fool most amateurs.

 

MARCH

Truffle Markets
Truffles are truly a gastronomic delight. But beware! Because of the high cost of truffles, there are fakes readily available from scam-artists. The Chinese fungus (Chinese truffle) looks like the black truffle but doesn't taste like it. It doesn't smell like a truffle either - but if it is placed with collection of real French truffles, the Chinese fungus will absorb enough of the smell to fool most amateurs.

 

MAY

Festival of the Holy Maries
Late May is the time that gypsies from all over Europe flock to Les Saintes-Maries in Provence. They celebrate the Holy Maries (Salome and Jacobea) landing on the beach of the town along with Sarah, a black servant girl who is the patroness of gypsies. The two women are reported to be among the first witnesses to the empty tomb at the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Three days of songs and dances. The highlight is the parade of the statue of Sarah. The statue is removed from the local church and then paraded all around the town while accompanied by Camargue gardians (cowboys) on horseback.
Les Saintes-Maries
May - late

Cannes Film Festival
Do we really need to say anything about the Cannes Film Festival?
Cannes
May - second half

 

JUNE

St. John's Fire
Watch the St. John's fire arrive from the Canigou. This ceremony is accompanied by folk dances celebrating the first day of summer and also symbolizing the union of Languedoc and Provence.
Arles
June - late

Pegoulado
It's a long evening parade by lamp light where participants dress in traditional costumes - a distinctive dress. It takes place on the Boulevard des Lices, on the last Friday in June.
Arles
June - late

Garde'n Blues Festival
A three-day outdoor event that presents local and international blues talent in the Jardin de la Barasse. The 15 year old festival attracts around 2,000 visitors every year.
Marseille
Jardin de la Barasse-St Marcel
100, Blvd de la Barasse, Marseille
Tel: 04 91 36 28 01
www.marseilledadi.com
June

Sacred Music Festival
A festival dedicated to Baroque and religious music. The venues for the event are the Baroque chapels and churches lining the narrow streets of Vieux-Nice (Nice's old town).
Nice
Tel: 04 97 13 36 89
June

 

JULY

Avignon Theatre Festival
This something that you'll want to take part of if you travel to Provence in the summer. It's a show-case of French and foreign contemporary drama and dance creations and stage performances. Approximately forty productions each year are seen by an audience of 100,000 people. The performance venues in Avignon and nearby the city include cloisters, churches, the Pope's Palace, an old stone quarry and school halls.
Avignon
www.festival-avignon.com/index.php?lg=en
July

Costume Festival
Taking place on the first Sunday in July, this festival is a hommage to Arlesian women. Women of all ages wear their loveliest costumes.
Arles
July - early

Festival of the Melon
If you're crazy about melons, you'll be crazy about this festival. Discover books, drawings paintings, archives, recipes, and just about everything that has something to do with melons at "Melon en fête." Over four days of banquets, melon tastings on the streets, tours and exhibitions. Cavaillon is 30 km from Avignon.
Tourism Office
79 pl François Tourel - 84300 CAVAILLON
Tél. 04 90 71 32 01
July - mid

Water Jousting Provence Championship
In water jousting, two men in boats fight against each other with their aim being to cast their opponent into the water while staying upright themselves. Water jousting is now practised throughout France.
Port de l'Estaque (just outside Marseille)
Fine Lance Estaquéenne (Sports Club)
Tel: 04 91 03 80 72
July

Firework Festival
Cannes hosts six nights of fireworks, with French, British, Spanish, Canadian and Italian pyrotechnical teams all trying to outdo the other.
Cannes
Palais des Festivals et des Congrès
Tel: 04 92 99 33 83
sortiracannes@semec.com
Click here for website.
July

 

AUGUST

Lavender Festival (Corso de la Lavande)
Held during the first week of August, this lavender harvest is celebrated annually. It's a festival half a century old. Over the course of the four-day event, you'll see parades with elaborate floats, presentations of folklore and a grand ball.
Digne-les-Bains
August - first week

Nuit des Pêcheurs
Toulon's rich fishing heritage is celebrated in the Nuit des Pêcheurs festival. Sample delicious fish soup, oysters, crab and the best grilled sardines in the region. Both the entertainment and the menu are based on the catch of the day.
toulon.tourisme@wanadoo.fr
Toulons
August

Sunslice Festival
This festival is Toulon's premier summer clubbing event. Dance to a mix of soul, house, funky jazz, disco and club classics as some of Europe's top DJs turn four nights of non-stop partying.
Tour Royal Fort
Toulons
Tel: 06 15 69 16 05
www.sunslice-festival.com
August

St Peter's Fishermens Festival
Enjoy nautical jousting and flower fights. At nightfall, a ritual pine is lit in the port. Then teams of fishermen and friends try to get each other as wet as possible while flinging local flowers and flora about by the light of the fire. The next morning sees a procession weave its way through town bearing a statue of the fishermens' patron saint (Saint Pierre). Saint Pierre also ends up in the water when the procession reaches the port. In the afternoon, you'll enjoy a nautical jousting tournament. Celebrations come to an end with the traditional ball and fireworks display.
Saint-Raphael
04 94 19 52 52
August

Russian Art Festival
The annual Russian Art Festival showcases Russian art, music, dance and folklore.
Cannes
Palais des Festivals
Esplanade Georges Pompidou, Cannes
Tel: 04 93 39 01 01
August

 

SEPTEMBER

Rice Festival
A parade of decorated floats prior to the last bullfight of the year, the Rice Feria.
Arles
September

Festival of Maritime Film and Exploration
This week-long festival screens exclusive footage taken in some of the world's most remote regions as well as close-up images of the underwater world. Previous festival films have focused on encounters with sharks, killer whales, sand snakes and crocodiles.
Palais Neptune
Address place de Besagne, Centre commercial Mayol
Toulon
Tel: 04 94 91 35 65
festi.film@wanadoo.fr
www.fifme.com
September - October

Water Jousting Championships Finals
Feast your eyes on a highly-competitive soaking as the town's best turn out to battle. Catherine de Medici apparently was a fan of this spectacular sport. In water jousting, two men in boats fight against each other with their aim being to cast their opponent into the water while staying upright themselves. Water jousting is now practised throughout France.
Tel: 04 94 19 52 52
Saint-Raphael
September - mid

Festival of the Wind
At the Festival of the Wind, colourful kites are flown by international teams from the South of France, Italy, Switzerland and Spain. In addition to the kite flying, there are children's workshops and dancing.
Marseille
Plage du Prado
avenue Georges Pompidou, Marseille
Tel: 04 91 55 37 95
September

 

OCTOBER

Saint Raphael Sailing Cup
The Saint Raphael Cup is one of the highlights of the Cote d'Azur's autumn sailing season. Boats from 15 different clubs along the coast, from Nice to Cavalaire, join in the regatta. Grab a spot on the beach to watch, or hire a boat to catch all the action from the water.
Club Nautique de Saint-Raphaël
Saint-Raphael
Tel: 04 94 95 11 66
asso.ffv.fr/saint-raphael

Fayence String Quartet Festival
The hilltop villages in the Pays de Fayence come alive to the scintillating sounds of the Fayence String Quartet Festival. You'll discover a number of great artists performing in various local churches. The final concert takes place in Saint-Raphaël. Most concerts at 3:00 pm or 9:00 pm.
Tel: 04 94 76 02 03
musique.en.pays.de.fayence@wanadoo.fr
October - mid to end

 

NOVEMBER

Provencal Savours Festival
Saint-Siffrein Fair is a centuries-old tradition dating back to 1338. Lasting four days, the fête foraine (fairground) is surrounded by stalls selling food, clothes, ornaments and kitchen gadgets, as well as a truffle market, horse market, vine stocks, plant market, and flea market.
Carpentras
Tel: 04 90 60 33 33
November - mid

Truffle Markets
Truffles are truly a gastronomic delight. But beware! Because of the high cost of truffles, there are fakes readily available from scam-artists. The Chinese fungus (Chinese truffle) looks like the black truffle but doesn't taste like it. It doesn't smell like a truffle either - but if it is placed with collection of real French truffles, the Chinese fungus will absorb enough of the smell to fool most amateurs.

 

DECEMBER

Bandol Wine Festival
Every first Sunday in December, the Mediterranean port from where the precious Bandol barrels were shipped is invaded by thousands of wine enthusiasts.
Espace Mistral - 2, avenue Saint-Louis
83330 Le Beausset
Tél. (+33) 04 94 90 29 59
www.vinsdebandol.com
December - first Sunday

Fêtes de la Lumière (Light Festival)
Enjoy special festivities and lights for the Christmas season. You'll find the city's buildings and sites colourfully illuminated. Enjoy the free theatre and performing arts spectacles, as well as the ice rink for the kids.
Saint-Raphael
04 94 19 52 52
www.saint-raphael.com/OTSR_EN/
www.saint-raphael.com/lumiere
December - mid to end

Christmas Star International Regattas
This event has been taking place for over 40 years and is the most important regatta in France. It sees 30 to 40 crews from all over the world welcomed. Past competitors include Paul Cayard (USA), Roberto Benamati (Italy), José-Louis Doreste (Spain) and other national champions.
Nice
Baie des Anges (The bay is 7km south of the city centre. There are a number of buses that run from town.)
Tel: 04 93 89 39 78
perso.wanadoo.fr/clubnautiquenice
December

Truffle Markets
Truffles are truly a gastronomic delight. But beware! Because of the high cost of truffles, there are fakes readily available from scam-artists. The Chinese fungus (Chinese truffle) looks like the black truffle but doesn't taste like it. It doesn't smell like a truffle either - but if it is placed with collection of real French truffles, the Chinese fungus will absorb enough of the smell to fool most amateurs.