Festivals and Events - France
French Tennis Open
The second Grand Slam tennis tournament of the year is held at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris for two weeks at the end of May. Roland Garros' clay courts make the tournament unique, and naturally the Open attracts the crème de la crème of the tennis world. The original French tennis championships were held back in 1891, and the tournament moved to Roland Garros in 1928. There are tours available at the stadium - which in occupied World War II France was used as a temporary prison - in both English and French.
La Pourcailhade (Festival of the Pig)
Every year, the village of Trie-Sur-Baise nestled in the foothills of the French Pyrenees holds a festival to honour its beloved animal, the pig. Trie-Sur-Baise is one of France's busiest pig-rearing areas and organisers The Brotherhood of the Pig organise the celebration on the second Sunday of August to celebrate the animal which gives the village its livelihood. On the day the village boats piglet races, pork sausage eating contests and competition for the best pig costume - as well as France's only pig imitation contest.
On July 14 1789 French citizens stormed the Bastille, freeing prisoners trapped within and starting an uprising which would lead to the end of the country's monarchist rule and the establishment of a new French Republic. The next year "Bastille Day" (referred to in France as Fête Nationale or 14 Juillet) would be declared a national holiday. These days it's still a day of celebration for the French, and is commemorated with fireworks, dancing, a large military parade down the Champs-Elysees, and a garden party held by the President.
Cannes Film Festival
The world's most prestigious film festival is held in May each year in Cannes, the quiet town on France's Côte d'Azur. Attended by a literal galaxy of stars, Cannes swells to bursting with posing, preening, parties, and plenty of cash flying around. And they watch some movies as well. The Palme d'Or is the festival's most sought after prize for Best Film and is selected by jury. Past winners include movies like Taxi Driver, Apocalypse Now, Sex, Lies and Videotape, Pulp Fiction and The Pianist. Prices soar and accommodation is full to burst in Cannes over the festival but it's easy to stay in nearby Nice, pop over by train and soak up a bit of the glitz and glamour.
Nice Jazz Festival
The southern city of Nice hosts one of Europe's major jazz events each summer. More than 45,000 spectators flock to the city for eight nights of over 500 musicians and 75 separate shows, all centred around the Arenes de Cimiez, a 2000 year old Roman amphitheatre. Concerts are held over three stages each night between 7pm and midnight. The Nice Jazz festival is known for its eclectic collection of musicians and has been held in one form or another since 1948. Over this time, notable names to have attended include Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Count Basie and Charlie Mingus.