Festival Forecast: France

Beaujolais Nouveau
Throughout France : Third Thursday in November
This is when all the new wines appear out of the vaults of Lyon and into wine bars, bistros and restaurants all over the country. Word has it only tourists drink new wine, but we are tourists, so c'est la vie and salut!

Pret a Porter Fashion Show
Paris : mid-March and First Week of October
Not that you are necessarily going or anything, but definitely need to book way ahead of time to stay in the fashion capital during the industry's busiest weeks of the year. Every accommodation fills up early. OK, maybe not the hostels, but you never know. Each and every ragman has to start (and sleep!) somewhere.

Foire du Trone
Paris : end of March-May
The twelfth arrondissement is the place to be when this amusement park takes Parisians for a whirl. Visit the site for more info.

Foire de Paris
Paris : April-Early May
Hundreds of stands sell food and wine at the Parc des Expositions at the Porte de Versailles. Bon appetit! The event's website has more info on the annual festivities.

Vintage Car Rally Montmartre
Paris : Closest Sunday to May 15
The streets of Montmarte start piling up with antique cars at 10 a.m. in the morning. Engines start on rue Lepic and drive around heading towards place du Tertre.

Les Cinq Jours Extraordinaire
Paris : Five Days the Third Week of May
Antique shops in the rues du Bac, de Lille, de Beaune, des St-Peres, de l'Universite and quai Voltaire hold open houses celebrating an annual theme. The streets are carpeted in red and plants and flowers are found everywhere.

D'Anvers aux Abbesses
Paris : Third Week of May
Artists in Montmartre open their studios and show off their works to the unsuspecting public. Don a beret to blend in and you might just look like a tourist. The site has more info (in French).

Journees Portes Ouvertes a Belleville
Paris : Friday through Mondays the First Two Weekends in May
More than 100 artists open their studios in Belleville. Modern paintings and sculpture can be appreciated by both Parisians and tourists alike. Find out more at the oh-so-artsy website.

French Open
Paris : Last Week of May and First Week of June
The Grand Slam event is held at the western edge of the city in Stade Roland Garros in the Bois de Boulogne. The French Open website has all you need to know to get courtside.

Fete de la Musique
Paris : June 21
The entire country is host to free music concerts in celebration of the summer solstice. Visit the site to learn more about this fantastically free event.

Paris : Last Sunday in June
The biggest pride parade in gay Paris runs through the Marais as well as other streets throughout Paris.

Bastille Day
Paris : Evening of July 13-July 14
Similar to the United States' Fourth of July, this is the day citizens of France celebrate the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. The celebration starts the night before with dances in fire stations all over the city. Fireworks are lit at the Trocadero.

Paris Quartier d'Ete
Paris : mid-July-mid-August
The Sorbonne becomes host to over a dozen outdoor concerts with the help of stellar orchestras. The Quartier d'Ete website has more info, plus a fun photo gallery.

Tour de France
Paris : Last July or Early August
Yes, this is the world-famous bicycle race and it ends on the Champs-Elysees sometime in late July or early August. Visit the official site to see when things get rolling.

Journees Portes Ouvertes
Paris : Weekend Closest to September 15
This is when off-limit palaces, churches and other official buildings open their doors to show off for a couple of days.

FIAC (Foire Internationale d'Art Contemporain)
Paris : Mid-October
One of the largest contemporary art fairs in the world is held in Paris and consists of stands representing more than 150 international galleries in the Grand Palais. Visit the site to see what's in store for this year.

Armistice Day
Paris : November 11
A military parade traveling from the Arc de Triomphe to the Hotel des Invalides marks the day War War I came to a close.

Belfort : late June
International artists abound at this giant open air 3-day festival held at a picturesque nature preserve just outside of Belfort. The Eurockeennes site has all the info you need.

Printemps de Bourges
Bourges : late April
It's all indie at this multiple night festival. The night offers multiple shows priced individually in bars and clubs across the city. During the day there's a street fair and free open air concerts. Be there to see up-and-coming bands. (And visit the site to make sure you're there at the right time.)

Poitiers l'Ete
Bordeaux : mid-June-mid-September
At this time of year, free jazz, opera and rock music go well with fireworks. Colored lights also illuminate the façade of Notre Dame La Grande for 15 minutes every night between 10:30 and 10:45 PM.

Festival Colla Voce
Bordeaux : Eight Days in August
The most important churches in town open their doors allowing organ players to show off their pipes to the public.

Fete de la Musique
Lyon : June 21
This National Day of Music turns the streets of Lyon into venues for local talent. Visit the Lyon-specific site to learn more.

Foire du Tupiniers
Lyon : September
Check out a lot of pottery for free at this event in St-Jean.

Biennale de la Danse
Lyon : September 14-December 31
Cerebral fun is found when Lyon alternates between exhibiting contemporary art, during odd numbered years, or dance, during even numbered years. Find out what's on this year at the Biennale site.

Festival de Musique du Vieux-Lyon
Lyon : Two Weeks in December
Churches around town swing open their doors in order to play a little music for the general public.

Lyon : December 8
Thousands of locals light lanterns in windows in observance of the Virgin Mary, the lady who inspired the landmark on Fourvière Hill.

Nice : Late February-Early March
Parades, parties and music culminate into the tradition of teams pelting each other with blooms, Les Batailles des Fleurs, before burning an effigy of King Carnival. The Carnival Nice website provides a taste of the colorful fun, and offers practical info as well.

Nice Jazz Festival
Nice : mid-July
Catch some jazz on the Arenes de Cimiez hilltop from afternoon until late at night.  Past shows have even included performances by Kanye West. Check the site to see what mega-stars are scheduled to play.

Vineyard Festival
Nice : September
Music, parades, and lots of wine are served at the festival that celebrates the grape harvest.