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What to see and do in France in November 2012

A Guide to November's exhibitions, festivals and other special events in France


The calendar below applies to November 2012

Festivals and Seasonal Events

  • International Hot Air Balloon Festival
    Taking place fromin the Auvergne, Le-Puy-en-Velay, this huge events attracts balloonists from the UK, USA and Italy. It's a wonderful area to fly in, offering great air currents that come up from the volcanic rocks the are is famous for.
    There's plenty of local wine and cheese to try and a wonderful area to discover as you follow the brightly colored balloons.
    When November 9th to 11th
    Where In and around Le Puy-en-Velay, Auvergne
    Balloon Festival
    Le Puy-en-Velay Tourist Website

More about Le-Puy-en-Velay and the area

  • Cider Festival, Fete du Cidre
    This annual event takes place at Le Sap, Normandy. Each autumn when the rosy apples have been picked, the festival celebrates the ancient art of cider making, using techniques from the 18th century. It's a great occasion, with demonstrations of the craft, music and entertainment and stalls selling cider, bread, local Livarot cheese and hot apple soup. But remember: Normandy cider is alcoholic and can be strong.
    When November 9th to 11th, 2012
    Where Le Sap, Orne, Normandy
    Website (in French)
    Normandy Tourism Website
  • Remembrance Day, November 11th Throughout France, November 11th is a time of remembrance, commemorating the armistice signed on that date in 1914. It’s a public holiday and throughout France, from small villages to large cities, there will be parades and services. In a rather chilling way, it has been extended to cover French victims in all wars; like the rest of the world conflict continues. It's particular moving to visit the many World War I sites in this part of France at this time.

World War I Sites to Visit

  • Reims Jazz Festival Taking place in the second half of November, this annual event, now in its 19th year, attracts both well-known names and the up and coming. It takes place in Reims at the Opera, the centre culturel Saint-Exupéry and in the salle Louise at the Champagne house, thePommery Domaine. Alongside the major jazz concerts, you'll find jam sessions in many bars and restaurants in the city.
    When November 14th to 24th, 2012
    Where Throughout the city of Reims
    Reims Jazz Festival Website
    Reims Tourist Office Website

More about Reims

  • Les Trois Glorieuses
    The greatest wine auction in the world takes place in Beaune in Burgundy in mid-November. But there's much more going on in Beaune, quite apart from this celebrated, ancient auction, now conducted by Christies and only for the truly serious. The weekend is an excuse for a fabulous festival when various houses hold open house wine tasting for the latest vintages. There's a street festival, a half marathon on Saturday through the vineyards around Beaune, and a series of very grand dinners and tastings that you can buy tickets for. The great wine auction is on Sunday in the Hospice or Hotel Dieu which also raises money for the upkeep of the building.
    When November 17th to 19th, 2012
    Where Beaune in Burgundy
    Wine Auction Information
    Beaune Tourism Website

More about the Region

  • Christmas Markets
    Many of the French Christmas markets begin in the last week in November. The markets are wonderful occasions to buy one-off gifts, to taste the local produce and drink the local wine. The streets are full of small stalls selling sweets, food, gingerbread, wooden toys and more. At some of the markets, you'll come across Christmas characters making an appearance, like the Good Fairy who appears at Montbeliard, near Mulhouse in Alsace. There are also great markets in major cities like Lille and Strasbourg.

More on Christmas markets

  • Beaujolais Nouveau
    Beaujolais Nouveau is released at midnight on the last Thursday of the month. Never mind the quality; this is a great occasion for a bit of feasting and drinking, French-style. Lyon is the place to be as it's the nearest city to Beaujolais. At midnight, something like 450 liters are given away to the merry makers. As you'd expect, it's a vast party.

More about Beaujolais Nouveau and Lyon

  • Fantastic Lille
    This is literally a fantastic event. It's all happening in Lille with parades, exhibitions, performances, film screenings, theatre, circus, dance, clubs comics and cooking all featuring in this 4-month long celebration. You get the idea as soon as you arrive at Lille train station and there’s a delightful flying saucer hovering above you beaming light down.
    Fantastic Lille takes place both in the lively city and also in various locations just outside the center, such as La Piscine in Roubaix and at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
    When October 6th, 2012 to January 13, 2013
    Where Throughout Lille and the surrounding towns and region
    Fantastic Festival website

  • More on the Lille Area
  • Guide to Lille
  • La Piscine Museum, Roubaix
  • Lille Museum of Contemporary Art

Exhibitions in November 2012

  • Suzanne Lalique-Haviland
    While Rene Lalique might be a household name, the same cannot be said for his daughter, Suzanne Lalique. Or not until now when an exhibition at the Lalique Museum has brought her considerable talents to major public view. An artist in glass and porcelain (not surprisingly), she was equally at home with textiles, theater costumes, set designs and paintings. Various institutions, from the Cité de la Céramique in Sèvres, the Paris Museum of Decorative Arts and the Comédie Française to the Limoges Fine Arts Museum have loaned pieces as well as the Lalique family and private collectors.
    When To November 11th
    Where Musee Lalique, Wingen-sur-Moder, Alsace
    Read more about the Museum
    Read more about the Exhibition

  • Les Fables du Paysage Flamand au XVI Siecle (The stories in 16th-century Flemish Painting)
    This major international exhibition takes all those fantastic and fabulous elements that make the Flemish paintings of the 16th century so enduringly fascinating. The cosmological and extraordinary aspects in the art of Bosch, Brueghel, met de Bles, Bril and Patinir are just as powerful today as they were 500 years ago. The exhibition goes a little way to exploring and explaining the odd world of those Old Masters.
    The grotesque, strange paintings fit perfectly with the Lille Fantastic Event (see above).
    When To January 13th, 2013
    Where Palais des Beaux-Arts (Lille Fine Arts Museum), Lille, North France
    Museum website

  • Edward Hoppper Restrospective
    The Grand Palais is putting on the first ever retrospective on Edward Hopper (1882-1967) in Paris. It's an amazingly popular exhibition, with major works by the American artists whose iconic paintings were deceptively simple. It's divided into two parts, with the first showing his formative years, including the time he spent in Paris (a year in 1906 then shorter visits in 1909 and 1910). The second section looks at the mature artist.
    When To January 28th, 2013 Where Grand Palais, Paris Grand Palais Website

More on Paris

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