It’s always a pleasure to travel to France – in winter, spring, summer or autumn. While the beach resorts are rapidly emptying out, other destinations around the country are just about to hit their stride. Lille and Deauville, for example, are set to hold some of the most prestigious events in their cultural calendars this season…
For Lille, this means the annual ‘Braderie’. You can imagine how popular it is, combining both the pleasures of shopping and eating in the country’s fourth largest city. Its cobbled streets are flooded with flea market stalls and local restaurants complete to see who can sell the most moules frites – the mountains of shells outside each one should give you a pretty good idea who’s winning! The local beer (there are plenty to choose from this close to Belgium) goes really well with this dish.
Meanwhile, Deauville in Normandy is rolling out the red carpet for some of Hollywood’s finest as part of its annual American Film Festival. Since 1975 it has attracted the likes of George Clooney, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Stone, Diane Kruger, Rachel McAdams and Harrison Ford. When in town, they stay at the suitably glamorous Hôtel Barrière Le Normandy. You can get so much closer to the action here compared to Cannes with a day pass offering access to screenings for approx. 35 euros.
Autumn is an especially interesting time to explore the wine producing regions of France as well, with grapes being harvested everywhere from Alsace and Champagne to the Loire Valley and the Rhône. The vines are looking their prettiest when all those leaves are changing colour. Come the third Thursday in November, attention turns to Beaujolais Nouveau, a young wine produced in record time and eagerly anticipated in Beaujolais and beyond!
Every season brings with it something different to discover, no matter where you go in France. However, the third weekend in September coincides with the cultural initiative known as ‘European Heritage Days’, offering people the chance to visit venues that are otherwise closed to the public. Feel free to share your recommendations in the comments below – and be prepared to queue!