Arts Festivals in France

Famed for its artistic heritage, including an important role in the Impressionism and Romanticism movements, France is the perfect place to visit an art festival. Undoubtedly, the city of love must take the top spot for art festivals in France, with dozens of events taking place throughout the year – from the Graphic Design Festival in January and Paris Design Week in September, all the way through to Paris Photo in November. Outside of Paris you’ll be rewarded with plenty of other exciting options that are especially unique to France. Lyon’s annual Festival of Lights is one such spectacle that sees the whole city lit up by magical displays each December, while the famous Cannes Film Festival is a glamourous celebration that takes place every autumn. Those looking for something a little different should head to Le Voyage à Nantes, a two-month display of alternative art across the city that lasts throughout the summer. Interested? Take a look below to find out more about the cities hosting these art festivals in France.

Art Festivals in Lyon, France

Although France is admired for its art history across the world, to truly indulge your wildest artistic fantasies, you must head to Lyon. Located in the Rhône Alps region, its location on the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers makes it a scenic place to visit any time of year. The annual Festival of Lights is an especially popular event, and sees the entire city get together to view the multitude of light installations.

Did you know that Lyon is recognised as the birthplace of modern cinema? This means that as well as contemporary and classic art there are also numerous places to catch a screening at an arty independent picture house. As a thriving university city, Lyon is a home to many young creatives, and, as you’d imagine, it boasts a colourful nightlife scene. Check out the thrilling live jazz clubs and the biggest Chinatown outside of Paris.

Art Festivals in Cannes, France

This star-studded city is the beautiful backdrop to the glamorous Cannes Film Festival, and with views overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, it’s not hard to see why. Set on the stunning French Riviera, you can catch some rays on one of its sandy beaches or stroll through the boutique-lined streets. For a taste of local culture, explore the charming old quarter of the city, Le Suguet, which was originally a fishing village. There the gothic Église Notre-Dame D’Espérance has kept watch over Cannes since 1521, and today it offers panoramic views of the city below.

One thing that is synonymous with Cannes is the famous film festival. Held each May, the festival offers previews of the best upcoming movies and sees a whole array of stars and directors attending. The Palm D’or, given to the best film at the festival, is seen as one of cinemas greatest honours.

Arts Festivals in Nantes, France

Under Louis XIV’s reign, Nantes was both France’s most important port, and one of the largest in all of Europe, but these days the city is best known for its vibrant art scene, which includes works both in galleries and a rich street art heritage. Inspired by Jules Verne and Leonardo da Vinci, the utterly unique Machines of the Isle of Nantes project is a dream world for creatives.

Breaking away from Nantes traditional past, you can find unusual and innovative artworks all over Nantes during the Voyage à Nantes arts festival. Here, different artists are given the opportunity to exhibit their artworks to the wider public.

Art Festivals in Paris, France

The beating heart of France, Paris is the number one spot for art in the world, so be prepared to experience a world of artistic delights during a visit here. The Louvre, arguably the most famous gallery in the world, is situated in the centre of Paris, and its impressive architecture makes it difficult to miss. Expect long queues for the world’s most visited art museum, but they’ll be worth it, as the world class gallery hosts many famous works such as the Mona Lisa and The Coronation of Napoleon.

As well as the Louvre, there is a huge selection of art events to be enjoyed all over the city. One of the best is Paris Design Week, which takes place during the second week of September. This is a great opportunity to experience the best that the design world has to offer and is a must see for any design enthusiasts.

Find more things to do in Paris with our city guide.