On the 1st of May, make sure to visit the celebrations in Arles where the Fête des Gardians takes over the city. Worth a visit! You may even see the queen of les Arlesiennes.
This is the month of public holidays in France. Make sure to be aware of store closings. I would just give up on getting anything official done this month. Beware of “faire le pont” where everyone combines a public holiday with a weekend- even if the holiday is in the middle of the week!
You’ll find the landscape to be full of red poppies, wild peas, elderflower, rocket and more. The markets display stunning varieties of artichokes, peas and mountains of fresh herbs. Great cooking inspiration! Book a market tour with me this Spring!
Jours Féries/Public Holidays:
|Fête du Travail (French labour day, A LOT is closed. Luckily, lots of festivals.||1 Mai|
|8 Mai 1945||8 Mai|
Also, be aware of train travel. There are many strikes this month. The French are at it again and this time it’s really inconvenient. Check this schedule and call the train service for confirmation before booking a ticket.
May Events in Provence 2017
Fête des Gardians – Arles
This is the largest Fête des Gardians where there are celebrations, parades, and blessings of the horses, bulls, men and women that basically perform the task of the French cowboy in the plains of the Camargue. The parade in Arles is immense; you’ll be able to see the Queen of the Arlesiennes (much loved) as well as the many young and old men proudly riding their white Camargue horses through the street. It’s a site to behold! To check out more pictures click here.
Foire des Chevaux – Saint Remy de Provence
A flea market and small horse fair in Saint Remy.
Festival de la Photo Nu – Arles
In the Provencal capital of photography, you’ll find 30 expositions of contemporary and classic photographs based on contemporary nude photography. The expositions are an homage to local photographer Lucien Clergue, who is known for his nudes taken on the sandy shores of the Camargue. This genre is a favourite of mine. Francesca Woodman influenced a lot of my fine art photography.
Half the fun of this exhibition is meandering the colourful streets of Arles while looking for the next venues that are held in many of Arles’ most beautiful buildings.
Just Rosé Festival – Sanary-sur-mer
A very popular festival with 70 stands celebrating the local, wonderful Provencal rosé. Get tipsy and watch the colourful boats in the port?
Public holiday to celebrate the victory of 1945.
Floralies – Sénas
The best value for money flower market of the season. 70 vendors.
Festival de Cannes
I’m quite sure this doesn’t need any explaining.
Fête du Printemps – St Martin de Crau
A celebration of all things Provencal. You’ll find parades, a market and locals dressed in traditional costume making jam and all sorts in the street.
Jazz in Arles – Arles
Lots of Jazz concerts in Arles this week. Click the link to see the schedule and buy tickets.
Nuit des Musées – all of France
Many museums are open and free this evening all over France. A fun night out with a sneaky glass of wine? Art is sometimes best after a glass… Check out the museums nearest you.
Altarosa – Avignon
Rose exhibition inside the courtyard of Palais des Papes. Beautiful!
Festival des Vins Coteaux d’Aix –Rognes
Wine festival celebrating the wine of the Aix en Provence appellation. Buy a glass and taste as much as you like! I love this town. Warning: this festival is all you can drink…dangerous!
Transhumance – Saint Remy de Provence
Thousands of sheep crossing St Remy, heading to the cooler spaces of the Alps for the summer. A sight to see.
Pèlerinage des Gitanes – St Maries de la Mer
If you’re traveling in the Camargue, you may be overwhelmed by the incredible number of gypsies that invade the town of St Maries de la Mer in an enormous pilgrimage in celebration of the virgin Mary. You’ll find great music, an awful lot of caravans and an enormous parade. Just keep an eye on your wallet.
Fête des Voisins – Aramon, Beaucaire, Chateaurenard, Eyragues, Paradou
This is technically for locals, but it’s the first “neighbour day” in small villages. It’s basically the French version of an American block party. Is there a British equivalent? Depending on the village you’ll have to bring your own dishes (like pot-luck) or there’s a free meal provided by the Marie, all in the spirit of getting to know your neighbours. Whoever said that the French aren’t friendly? Unfortunately, on my block, my neighbours are always wanting to play some murder mystery game.
Journées des Plantes d’Albertas – Bouc Bel Air
See a large plant exhibition where you can find rare plants and admire the beautiful gardens.
Les Good Trucks – Barbentane
Food trucks assemble to give us a little bit of hipster lifestyle in the countryside. Every Tuesday.
I literally tried going to this every Tuesday last summer and couldn’t make it. I will not let it escape me this year!
Picasso – Marseille Mucem
An exhibition celebrating the mastery of Picasso, a common theme this year in museums all around France.
Please feel free to add anything I’ve missed in the comments below. There’s lots going on!