Year after year, no country attracts more international visitors than France and the most visited city in the world is Paris, but there’s more to see in the country than just the City of Lights. Here are some of the incredible events coming up in 2024 that will want you to visit France again or go for the very first time.
It’s time to experience Les Olympiques
France will be the ultimate sporting arena in 2024 with the Paris Olympics from Friday, July 26 – Sunday, August 11, 2024 and a few weeks later, the Paralympics Games which will be held, Wednesday, August 28 – Sunday, September 8, 2024.
For the first time, the opening ceremony won’t take place in a stadium but rather in the heart of Paris along the Seine River. The objective is to cut by half the carbon footprint of the Olympics as 95 per cent of the games will take place in existing sports venues or in heritage sites throughout the Greater Paris Region and other parts of France.
Think skateboarding in Place de la Concorde or beach volleyball at the Champs de Mars at the foot of the Eiffel Tower and equestrian events at the Château de Versailles. Plus, the upcoming Olympics will introduce a totally new discipline: breaking. It will complement the previous game’s inclusion of sport climbing, skateboarding, and surfing, which for France will take place on one of the beautiful Tahitian islands of French Polynesia.
Be sure to follow the festive Olympic torch relay. The torch will arrive May 8 in Marseille from Greece aboard the tall ship Le Belem, for a 68-day whirlwind tour in mainland France and its overseas regions. Coincidentally, Toulon in Le Var will be the second city after Marseille to host the torch on May 10.
The New York – Vendée Sables d’Olonne is another major sporting event that will take place on May 29, 2024. It is the last qualifier race before the Vendée Globe—and is the only transatlantic race to leave from the Big Apple. Before embarking on a 5,100-kilometre journey across the Atlantic Ocean, the sailors will entertain the public with a spectacular show at the Statue of Liberty’s base, along with other pre-race celebrations on May 24. Then, on November 10, 2024, the 10th edition of the Vendée Globe, a.k.a the Everest of Seas–a solo, non-stop, and, unassisted race around the world, will set sail from the Vendee’s Sables d’Olonne. About 40 skippers will depart this seaside town which boasts magnificent beaches and one of the most beautiful bays in the world.
In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the first Impressionist exhibition, the 2024 Normandy Impressionist Festival, scheduled from March 22 to September 22, 2024, promises to be truly exceptional with an unexpected American influence. This 5th edition will showcase a major Whistler exhibit in Rouen, and the 12th edition of Rouen Cathedral’s summer sound & light show will be curated by American theatre and multidisciplinary artist Robert Wilson.
Normandy has also partnered with the Paris Region for this anniversary celebration, featuring a grand exhibit titled ‘Paris 1874: The Impressionist Moment’ at the Musée d’Orsay from late March to mid-July. Following that, the show will travel to the National Gallery in D.C. for a late summer to winter exhibition, showcasing around 130 paintings, works on paper, prints, sculptures, and photographs.
Since 1965 Les Floralies de Nantes, a prestigious international horticultural event, will move to the nearby Vendée from May 17 to May 26, 2024. It will take place at the Domaine de La Chabotterie—an 18th-century estate spread over 118 acres of lush forest and meadows. Anticipating over 200,000 visitors, the event will showcase the imaginative creations of 200 participants hailing from France, the United States, and other countries. Aptly named ‘Flower Games’ for the 2024 edition, a nod to the Summer Olympics will feature five thematic areas: water, childhood, intellectual, physical, and garden games.
2024 is a year of special anniversaries in France
These festivities and achievements would not be possible if it wasn’t for the bravery of Allied soldiers and veterans who took part in the historic D-Day Landings in Normandy. They will be honoured during the 80th anniversary of this critical chapter of WWII in 2024.
In addition to the June 6th landings in Normandy, it’s also the 80th anniversary of Operation Dragoon, a crucial Franco-American landing that occurred on August 15, 1944. The primary landing sites were located in Le Var County of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. After these landings, Allied forces advanced up the Rhone Valley, executing a coordinated pincer movement to cut off and engage retreating German troops. This strategic maneuver culminated in a historic meeting with D-Day veterans in Dijon on September 12, 1944.
For even more special anniversaries in France next year, click here.
Get off the beaten track
France is filled with forgotten corners and undervisited attractions that will help you get far away from the maddening crowds. For example, Provence’s Le Var county is famed for Saint-Tropez but also home to France’s Grand Canyon—the spectacular Gorges du Verdon, which is worth visiting year-round.
Other breathtaking spots include the red rock mountains of the Estérel Massif and the must-see Porquerolles and Port-Cros islands.
An Olympic torch stop on May 17, Toulouse, known as the Pink City, is notable for architectural heritage & museums and also the world capital of aeronautics.
The unsung Vendée, and Charente-Maritime house the lush & biodiverse Marais Poitevin, France’s second largest wetland. Fittingly, Nouvelle Aquitaine’s Cognac region comprised of both the Charente and Charente Maritime welcomes visitors who wish to discover that there’s more to Cognac then just the drink.
If you think Dijon is all about mustard, prepare to be surprised. Not only will Dijon host the Olympic torch on July 12, but it is also home to the captivating Cité de la Gastronomie et du Vin. It serves as the perfect starting point for exploring the three new wine centers in Beaune, Macon, and Chablis.
Finally, check out two recent additions to the UNESCO World Heritage Site: the Roman-era Maison Carrée in Nîmes and the Volcanoes and lush forests of Mount Pelée and the Pitons of Le Carbet on the island of Martinique.
Source: Atout France