Entertainment in France
French holidays sports and Entertainment
Horse racing goes on almost all year at one track or another near Paris.
Soccer is popular at the Pare des Princes and at Colombes Stadium. Tennis
tournaments and championship matches take place at Stade Roland-Garros in
the Bois. Boxing matches are frequent. Basketball games during the winter.
The best skiing areas are in the high Alps, where there are scores of
resorts, the biggest being Chamonix (for expert skiers), Megeve
(fashionable), and Courchevel and Val d'Isere (lively and youthful). They
always have plenty of gaiety and nightlife. You can also ski in the lower
Alps (behind Nice) and in the Jura, Pyrenees, and Vosges.
Son et lumiere spectacles are held all summer in thirteen Loire chateaux,
the best being at Chenonceaux, and in some thirty-eight other historic
buildings, notably the cathedrals of Albi and Vezelay, the Chateau of
Versailles, the Palais des Papes at Avignon. Then there are hundreds of
folklore festivals and pageants, including the Nice Carnival, before Lent,
the Menton Lemon Festival, in February, Easter ceremonies at Lourdes, the
Gypsy Pilgrimage at Saintes Maries, May zq and 25, the Festival of the
Nights of Burgundy at Dijon, in May and June, leading Breton pardons at Rumengol in June, Auray in July, Le Folgoet in September, other big Breton
festivals at Quimper in July, Concarneau in August, the Basque Folk Festival
at Bayonne in August, the Burgundy Wine Festival in November, the Joan of
Arc Festival at Rouen in May. July iq, Bastille Day, is marked by
festivities and parades throughout France.
Good fishing, especially for salmon and trout, can be enjoyed in many of
France's hundreds of rivers. Sailing is popular both in the Atlantic and
Mediterranean, but there are hazards, and it is best to have expert advice.
Or you can sail along inland canals and rivers, preferably in the spring or
early summer. For swimming, the Atlantic is best in June to early September,
in the Mediterranean, the season is longer. Water-skiing, diving, and the
new sport of water-parachuting are popular in the Mediterranean. There are a
great number of tennis courts and some golf courses.
Cycling is a favorite sport around Paris. There is a fine golf course at St.
Cloud (card necessary), also at St. Germain, Chantilly, Mortefontaine, etc.
Riding in the Bois. There is skiing in the French Alps and the Pyrenees in
winter. Yachting, swimming, fishing, golf, riding all along the Riviera,
Deauville, Biarritz, and good fishing in Brittany.
The great sporting spectacle of the year is the Tour de France bicycle race,
in late June and July. For car enthusiasts, there is the Le Mans 2q.-hr race
in June, and the Monte Carlo rally in January. La Rochelle Week in early
June is the main sailing regatta. The most important racecourse is
Longchamps, in Paris's Bois de Boulogne. There are big association football
matches on Sundays and holidays in many towns rugby is played a great deal
in SW. France. In Provence, the locals play boules (a kind of bowls), and in
the Basque country, as at Arles and Nimes, you can see bullfights in summer.
Pelota is a popular ball-game.
There are scores of arts festivals in France each year. Some of the biggest
provide music at Strasbourg in June, Aix-en-Provence in July, Besan~on in
September, chamber music at Menton in August, opera and choruses at Orange
in August, drama at Arles and Angers in June, Avignon in July, films at
Cannes in May.
The leading state-supported theatres in Paris are the Opera and Opera
Comique, and the Comedie Fran~aise, Theatre de France, and Theatre National
Populaire (all for classical or experirrtental plays). There are some thirty
commercial `boulevard' theatres, some of them tiny ones doing difficult
plays, and a few chansonniers (for political revues). Theatres mostly start
at g p.m. Sometimes they close for a month in summer, they remain open on
Sundays, but may close on Mondays or Tuesdays. The best provincial repertory
theatres are at Lyons, Aix-en-Provence, Caen, Rennes, Bourges, St Etienne,
and Strasbourg. Some towns are building maisons de la culture or arts
Although the theatre is generally less flourishing than in London, the
cinema has far more to offer. In Paris there are scores of `art' cinemas
showing classic or unusual films, in the provinces, film clubs proliferate.
frequent in Paris and other main towns. Theatre and cinema attendants are
Municipal casinos exist in most seaside resorts and spa towns, but not in
In some towns you will find travelling fun-fairs, but there are no seaside
piers. Paris has two zoos, at Vincennes and the Jardin des Plantes.