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The ‘terres (land) de festivals’ is the moniker attached to Provence and the Côte d’Azur for the simple reason that there are more than 500 of them, not to mention over 4000 events - and they cover the entire spectrum from the glamorous attracting the famous and infamous (think Cannes Film Festival and Monaco Grand Prix); to little country affairs celebrating everything from goats to chestnuts. July and August are the busiest months with so much going one is spoilt for choice.
Many of the festivals have their roots in Provençal folklore and pagan ceremonies, honouring the earth, the seasons and fertility. But no matter what the theme, the best part is that it always concludes with a fabulous feast where food and wine and the pastis flow in liberal quantities. For the definitive list pick up a free “Provence – Terres de Festivals” booklet from the local tourist office so you can plan to join in the fun when you are next booked into your Sunlight Properties holiday rental apartment or villa (to view our properties, click here). Noted below are some of the main events and celebrations centered around Nice and the French Riviera.
Festival International du Cirque de Monaco (mid to end Jan) circus shows from around the globe. www.montecarlofestival.mc
Rally of Monte Carlo (mid to late Jan) the world’s most famous rally car race. Rent one of our holiday villas along the French Riviera and you too can join in the fun. To view our holiday villas to let, click here.Tto learn more about Monaco and the adjacent towns to decide where to base your next vacation, click here: Towns Along the French Riviera. www.rallyemontecarlo.fr
Carnaval de Nice (mid Feb to early Mar) the aim of this international event is to celebrate the arrival of Spring with two weeks of music, comedy, and parades; not to mention confetti street battles, masked balls, and fireworks. The end of the carnival is signified by a tradition going back over 100 years: the ‘Batailles des Fleurs’ (Battle of the Flowers), followed by the burning in effigy of the King of the Carnival. A great deal of effort is put onto the magnificent floats. It is the largest pre-lent carnival in France with pagan routes celebrating the death of Winter and the birth of Spring and life. Festivities begin 3 weeks before Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday). This is one of the highlights of the Nice Calendar, and one of our favourite events. To view our holiday rental apartments in Nice, click here. www.nicetourism.com
Fête du Citron a Menton (mid Feb to early Mar) held every year in Menton, is the famous citron festival, where for two weeks parades and music fill the town with oranges and lemons used to create the most amazing sculptures. To view our holiday villas to let in Menton, click here; or to learn more about Menton, click here: Menton www.feteducitron.com
Monte Carlo Spring Arts Festival (mid Mar to early Apr) program of contemporary and original music from international artists. www.printempsdesarts.com
Monte Carlo Tennis Open (mid Apr) attracts the top tennis players of the world. A fabulous event that we always try and get tickets for. To view our holiday villas to let in this region, click here. www.monte-carlorolexmasters.com
Regate de la Baie des Anges (end of Apr) sailing regatta in the bay of Nice.
Procession du Christ Mort (Good Friday) a fascinating religious procession in Roquebrune Cap Martin. To view our holiday villas to let in Roquebrune Cap Martin, click here; or to learn more about Roquebrune, click here.
Fête des Mais (throughout May) held every Sunday throughout May in the garden and amphitheatre of Cimiez in Nice - music, picnics, and festivities. www.nice.fr
Cannes Film Festival (mid May) the movie world’s who’s who descend upon Cannes, transforming the city into a great destination for voyeurs intent on getting close up and personal with their favourite stars. Films play 24 hours, but reserve early. You have to attend at least once in your life, this is another one of those events that we always try and find the time to attend, just to soak up the atmosphere. To view our holiday villas to let in Cannes, click here
Monaco Grand Prix (mid May) this prestigious event sees Formula One cars racing at break neck speeds through the incredibly tight public streets of Monaco. The high octane racing is matched by some glamorous soirées. Try and get yourself an invitation or create your own after race day cocktail party at one of our beautiful nearby villas. To view our holiday rental villas in Cap d’Ail, click here.
Fête de la Musique (Jun 21) throughout France on this day musicians take to the streets. Join in the fun with these free street concerts. This is always a fantastic day, with a fabulous atmosphere. No matter where you choose to rent your holiday rental apartment or villa from Sunlight Properties, you will be able to enjoy this fun event.
International Showjumping in Cannes (mid Jun) equine lovers can attend this premier event held over several days in Cannes. www.jumpingcannes.com
Festival du Rire de Nice (throughout Jul) in need of a good belly laugh (and understand a little French) then be sure to attend one of the many comedy shows held during the Festival of Laughter in Nice. www.rireanice.fr
Les Nuits Guitares of Beaulieu-Sur-Mer (early Jul) festival of music celebrating the guitar in all its forms – Rock, Pop, Blues, Folk. To view our holiday villas to let in Beaulieu, click here; or to learn more about this location, click here: Beaulieu Sur Mer (18). www.beaulieusurmer.fr
Musiques au Coeur Cap d’Antibes (early Jul) music in the heart of the beautiful Cap d’Antibes. To view our holiday villas to let in Cap d’Antibes, click here: Property Search (2); or to learn more about this beautiful area, click here: Antibes, Cap d’Antibes & Juan les Pins (25). www.antibesjuanlespins.com
Nice Jazz Festival (mid Jul) the Nice Jazz Festival is the oldest festival of jazz in France and is considered one of the three great jazz festivals in Europe. This is a hugely popular event, so you will need to book your holiday rental apartment in Nice from Sunlight Properties early if you want to attend this world renown event. www.nicejazzfestival.fr
Bastille Day (Jul 14) the national day of France is celebrated throughout the country with parties and fireworks. In Nice, Bastille Day begins with a parade down the Promenade des Anglais, and ends with fireworks where the Old Town meets the beach. All towns and villages no matter their size will celebrate this event, so you can participate no matter where you elect to stay for your next holiday in the South of France.
Retail Sales (mid July – mid Aug) benefit from some serious retail therapy without the guilt when your favourite boutiques slash prices by up to 70%. Sales take place July, August and January.
Festival de Jazz de Juan les Pins (mid Jul) for 10 days from the middle of July Jazz lovers can enjoy a series of concerts in Juan les Pins. Concerts take place in a custom built stadium within Le Parc de la Pinede. To view our holiday rental villas in Juan les Pins, click here. www.jazzajuan.com
Crazy Week (mid Jul) held in the open air Theatre de Verdure in the Albert 1er park by the water is this week long event celebrating music in all its genres. www.crazyweek.fr
Les Concerts du Cloitre (mid Jul to mid Aug) classical music concerts held in the atmospheric monastery cloisters in Cimiez, Nice. www.concerts.hexagone.net
La Festival Pyrotechnique de Cannes (mid Jul to end Aug) this has become one of the must see events on the Côte d’Azur. Held over a number of evenings, different locations along the French Riviera are witness to magnificent firework displays, synchronised to music. This is an international competition between countries and the shows are truly spectacular as we can personally attest. To view our holiday villas to let in Cannes, click here: Property Search. www.festival-pyrotechnique-cannes.com
La Castellada (mid Jul to end Aug) a spectacle retracing the historical events of Nice and the Château. www.nice.fr
Festival Theatre et Danse Roquebrune Cap Martin (end Jul to end Aug) series of dance performances held at Roquebrune Cap Martin. www.festival-rcm.com
St Paul de Vence Festival de Musique de Chambre (end Jul to early Aug) classical music concerts in the charming town of St. Paul de Vence. To view our holiday villas to let in St. Paul de Vence, click here; or to learn more about this location, click here: Vence, St. Paul de Vence & Cagnes. www.festivalsaintpaul.com
Nuits Musicales du Suquet (end Jul) evening musical festival held in the Old Town of Cannes. www.palaisdesfestivals.com
Cannes Festival Pantiero (mid Aug) held in a theatre right by the sea is this popular festival for lovers of Rock, Pop and Electro music. www.festivalpantiero.com
Festival de Musique de Menton (early Aug) classical music festival held outdoors amongst the beautiful historic buildings of Menton. www.musique-menton.fr
Festival de la Plaisance de Cannes - Cannes Boat Show (early to mid Sep) spread between the two ports in Cannes - the Vieux (Old) port and Port Canto. Sailing and power boat enthusiasts from around the world come to town to salivate over some of the world’s most luxurious yachts. www.salonnautiquecannes.com
Les Journees du Patrimoine (mid Sep) held throughout France, this is an excellent opportunity to gain access to the country’s most elegant historical buildings not normally open to the public.
Monaco Yacht Show (mid Sep) in the market for a super yacht? This is the place to come. Don’t forget to bring your cheque book – they have show discounts you know! www.monacoyachtshow.com
Nice Triathlon (mid Sep) start training now! www.triathlondenice.fr
Nice Fête du Port (end Sep) held at the Port of Nice, this fête is an orgy of wonderful food, drink, music, dance and fireworks. Lots of fun for the whole family. This is one of our favourite festivals, the atmosphere is superb. To view our holiday rental apartments in the Port area of Nice, click here.
Fête de Sainte Reparate (mid Oct) Place Rossetti in the Old Town of Nice. Processions and festivities to honour the patron saint of Nice - Sainte Reparate.
Fête de Catherine Segurane (end Nov) Place Saint Augustin, in the Old Town of Nice. Procession and festivities to honour Catherine Segurane, the saviour of Nice who according to legend saved Nice from the invading Turks by leading the townspeople into battle, knocking out the Turkish standard bearer with her egg beater and then ‘mooning’ or exposing her bottom to the Muslim invaders, who were apparently so offended by this sight, turned and fled!
Mois de l’Art Sacre a Nice (Nov to Jan) the city of Nice invites visitors to discover its rich artistic heritage through concerts, exhibitions and conferences. www.nice.fr/Culture/Festivals/Festival-L-Art-Sacre
Marathon de Nice (end Nov) for those feeling fit and with a couple of hours to spare. www.marathon06.com
Salon de la Gastronomie (end Nov) Monaco welcomes foodies to a celebration of all things gourmet. You can watch professional chefs do their thing and participate in delicious tastings. www.mc-gastronomie.com
Fête du Prince (19 Nov) the national day of Monaco, celebrated with a fireworks display over the harbour. www.traditions-monaco.com
Festival International de la Danse Biennial (end Nov to early Dec) international contemporary dance and ballet festival held in Cannes; always an impressive programme of top notch performances. www.festivaldedanse-cannes.com