6-8 October: Our quick-fire pick of the best of this weekend’s happenings across France!
Paris: Stay up all night for Nuit Blanche
It’s the big thing this weekend: a whole night of art, music, theatre and general wackiness as the French capital pays homage to its creative spirit. Forget the back-to-school rush and the shortening days – ‘Nuit Blanche’ (‘White Night’, which in French means a sleepless one) has been held every year since 2002, from 7pm-7am on the first Saturday in October. Follow a nocturnal art trail and rediscover the city at a string of locations, some well-known and others off the beaten track. Many museums, cultural institutions and other public and private spaces stay open all night free of charge for the event – so shake off your post-summer sloth and get out and enjoy the city like a true Parisian.
Atlantic Loire: Browse France's oldest book fair
Playing on the name of Le Mans’ world-famous car race, the ‘25ème Heure du Livre’ (25th Hour of the Book) has been going since 1978. Attracting 200 authors, 80 publishers and 30,000 visitors, it’s the major event of the autumn cultural scene in Le Mans and a diverse meeting place for all styles of writing. On one side it’s a themed fair celebrating French-speaking literature, with debates, author interviews and storytelling – on the other it’s a more general fair, open to all literary forms with meetings between writers, dedicated areas for children and young people, and designated zones for everything from crime fiction to comic strips.
Loire Valley: Catch the closing night of Chartres en Lumières
It’s been on since April – but there’s still time to see the spectacular light show in the cathedral city of Chartres this weekend, with the final display set to dazzle visitors on Saturday night. Annually since 2003, over 20 monuments and major attractions in Chartres have been illuminated with stellar light designs. The luminous artwork displayed during this year’s event is by artist Xavier de Richemont and some of the historic sites involved include the UNESCO-listed cathedral, the old episcopal palace, Chartres theatre, the multimedia library and several bridges and churches. Experience these historic sites from a new perspective.
Toulouse: Celebrate the organ!
Some folks dig nothing but jazz, others are nuts about opera… but given that we’re talking about France, there’s a festival to cater for pretty much any music taste, however specific. So if you’re into keyboards, try Toulouse’s international ‘Les Orgues’ festival on for size, which runs until 15th October. The majestic organ is a key component of the city’s culture and some 370 different organ models are displayed as part of the event. Given the instrument’s association with the church, this is also a great opportunity to admire the religious and architectural heritage of south-west France as a whole.