To say that France is a country of utter culture would be an understatement; whether it’s sport, music, food or just general touristic activities – it has it all. For the typical American traveling over, it’s something that can almost be overwhelming at times.
Additionally, it’s not just the capital which has something to offer. As you will see further down the page, countless cities are bursting with events to lure in both foreign and local visitors. The fact that Lyon was voted the leading city break destination in Europe at the World Travel Awards perhaps emphasizes this. Paris isn’t the only city which receives the tourist benefits; 5.5 million annual visitors to Lyon shows that visitor numbers are very much spread out and the whole country benefits.
It’s for this reason that we have put together this page to highlight some of the events that France has offered over recent times. It should hopefully highlight just what a typical U.S. visitor can experience once they arrive.
Paris-New York Tandem
Let’s start with an event which will be relevant to both nations. For a five-month period in 2016, a transatlantic cultural exchange took place in both Paris and New York. The idea was simple; highlight all of the themes that both cities have to offer. As such, anyone who attended these events was privy to local artists, art and themes.
Whether it was music, dance or literature – there was an event over this timespan that covered it.
Over in New York, the celebrations were just as impressive. The festival theme was “A summer in Paris” and resulted in several free French films being shown in the city, as well as Parisian art being showcased all around.
The whole event is organized through the French Embassy in the U.S. and the Embassy of the U.S. in France – making it a true celebration of relations between the countries.
Celebrating French cuisine
In truth, there’s not just one event that celebrates the cuisine in France – there are countless through the year. However, for the purposes of simplicity, let’s take a look at one of the more recent and one that also happens to be hugely popular.
This event comes in the form of Goût de France. On the 21st March 2016, this event was held to promote gastronomy of France. This is one of the key cultural elements of the country – some view it as part of France’s identity. In fact, if we dive into the importance of gastronomy even further, an action by UNESCO in 2010 should make the point quite clearly. It was decided to make the “French gastronomic meal” part of humanity’s intangible cultural heritage – which is a huge accolade considering how many alternative meals exist around the world.
As such, this event has been put together across no fewer than five continents – with 1000 chefs and 1000 menus making up the bulk of it. There are a total of 52 establishments which are participating in the U.S., which highlights its popularity over there. It should again be emphasized that all of these establishments will be running the event on the same day, and this should be applauded considering the logistical difficulties in achieving such a feat.
Le Grand Tour
The aim of Le Grand Tour is simple; this is the time where France attempts to showcase to the world its power in relation to tourism.
The term ‘power’ should not be used loosely either. With over 1,500 festivals, 41 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 1200 museums and all sorts of other attractions – it’s safe to say that France has it all. With a thriving student community, including over 300,000 international students, it goes without saying that the country has an incredible amount to offer.
This is where Le Grand Tour steps in. This is all about showcasing the above and specifically, the culture of France.
It’s something that is put together by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and resulted in around 40 stages being constructed around the whole of the country in tribute to the event.
So, what specifically does the event provide? It provides the chance for local actors to showcase their talents and as such, showcase the talents of France. They can reach the world with their skills and this means that it’s an ideal way to promote themselves as well.
It’s also worth mentioning that as well as naturally being available in both French and English, Le Grand Tour can be accessed through umpteen other languages. The general advice is that if a country has a French embassy, that country’s language will be covered. Ultimately, it’s an even which can attract visitors in their tens of millions.
France loves its football and seemingly, football loves France. Over the years countless tournaments have been held in the country, with Euro 2016 being one of the most recent.
Held between June 10 and July 10 2016, this was one of the hottest sports events through the course of the year. It was actually the third time that France had hosted the competition – although the time previous was over three decades ago back in 1984.
To put the strength of the tournament into perspective, it’s regarded as the third most important sporting event in the world. That’s right, in the whole of sport, there are just two events which are viewed as more important as the Euro tournament.
There were a total of ten host cities, including Lyon, Lille, Nice, Paris and Toulouse, while 2.5 million football fans watched the games. To highlight the international appeal again, it’s understood that around 1 million of these fans came from abroad.
While the French didn’t end up prospering on-the-field following defeat in the final to Portugal, off-the-field they gained a lot of admirers for the impressive way in which they hosted the tournament.
Inauguration of “La Cité du Vin”
We’ve touched upon the arts, food, sport and a whole host of other elements that make France such an interesting place to visit so far.
Something that we haven’t yet breached is wine. Some may view this as a sin; this is one of France’s biggest pulls and if we turn to Bordeaux in May 2016, there was a huge event that celebrated yet another impressive feat with wine.
On May 31, President Hollande travelled to Bordeaux to inaugurate Cité du Vin. This new attraction is set to become hugely popular not just for foreign visitors, but also for French nationals as well. It’s an attraction that contains everything from a wine museum, jaw-dropping restaurant and a lofted area where guests are invited to sample some of the greatest wines the country has produced. All of this happens as visitors look down on Bordeaux which, we should add, happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The interesting part about this attraction is that it’s not completely focused on French wine. It will bring wines from other nations into the mix – it’s aiming to give an education to anyone who takes an interest in the subject. It’s for this reason why the opening by President Hollande was so grand.