10 fun and green cities in France


Cultural HeritageCities

Claudia / Adobe Stock
© Claudia / Adobe Stock

Reading time: 0 minPublished on 26 March 2024

We can take care of the planet by eating locally, taking action in a festive way, by preserving the environment and rolling up our sleeves in good company and by multiplying the projects and initiatives that green up life and the city. In urban farms, places open to all, innovative eco-neighborhoods and sustainable festivals, it's time to share, to meet and to get together in a good mood to see the future in green and against all odds.

Bordeaux reinvents itself at the Darwin ecosystem

Sara Soulignac / Bordeaux tourisme
© Sara Soulignac / Bordeaux tourisme

On the left bank of the Garonne, Bordeaux, the elegant city of New Aquitaine, celebrates its past in the pedestrian streets of the historic center. On the right bank, the 2022 European Capital of Smart Tourism looks to the future. In a former eco-rehabilitated barracks, Darwin is like a large village square, an open and festive place hosting street art and a gliding hangar, coworking spaces and a producers' market as well as an urban farm and, in the Magasin Général, one of the largest organic restaurants in France. You can enjoy learning how to consume differently, in short and local circuits, including a beer "made in Bordeaux". Would you like to go there?

Darwin Climax Festival 2024 (September 2024 in the heart of the "Darwin ecosystem")

Aix-les-Bains, short circuit music in the Alps

Aymeric Coissard / Aix-les-Bains Riviera des Alpes
© Aymeric Coissard / Aix-les-Bains Riviera des Alpes

In Aix-les-Bains, Savoy, at the foot of the Alps, take a gentle stroll around the magnificent Lake Bourget. In all seasons, the Riviera des Alpes, a renowned spa resort, is a great place for bicycle lovers (Aix-les-Bains has been awarded the "Ville à Vélo" label by the Tour de France) for lovers of wild and preserved nature. An exceptional environment that Musilac, the musical event of the summer, strives to respect. The largest pop-rock festival in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region sets the example of an eco-responsible festival and organization, without plastic, without waste, in short circuits and by encouraging good practices and eco-gestures. Yes, it is possible!

Musilac Festival July 10-13, 2024.

Marseille, all to the Friche!

JoYana / Office de tourisme et des congrès de Marseille.
© JoYana / Office de tourisme et des congrès de Marseille.

The Friche de la Belle de Mai is 45,000 square meters in the heart of Marseille, including 8,000 square meters of roof terrace where generations mingle and where tomorrow's lifestyles are invented with joyful energy. In this former tobacco factory converted into a factory of art and culture, performance halls and concerts rub shoulders with Les Grandes Tables, a locavore restaurant and a farmer's market, cafés and a skate park, playgrounds, shared gardens, street art walls and exhibition spaces telling the story of the past or imagining the future ("Retrovision", "Ticket price"). A lively place, just like the city of Marseille, which is also mobilizing in music with the Delta Festival and its Environment Village, in August, on the Prado beaches, it feels good!

La Friche Belle de Mai Delta Festival - September 4-8, 2024

Nantes, nature trip in Pays-de-la-Loire

Jinhui Kang / Le Voyage à Nantes
© Jinhui Kang / Le Voyage à Nantes

Elected European Green Capital in 2013, the first city in France to receive this distinction, Nantes has always been ahead of the game and is making sure to keep it. Cycling network, eco-neighborhoods, Petite Amazonie (the only natural area in Europe classified Natura 2000 in the heart of the city), nourishing landscapes and vegetable gardens in the flowerbeds and public gardens. The city of the Dukes of Brittany is fuelled by green, always in a festive and educational mode. Whether it's the Agronaute, the large Urban Farm planted on the site of the former MIN with workshops and participatory workcamps, concerts and farmers' markets, the Voyage à Nantes, the artistic summer event and its short-circuit canteen, or Magmaa, the new food court under the former Alstom halls where locavore world dishes are cooked, in Nantes we believe!

L'Agronaute Le Voyage à Nantes Magmaa

Lyon, the right ecological tempo in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

As the 2019 Capital of Biodiversity, Lyon has been rewarded for its efforts, such as the re-vegetation of the banks of the Saône, which now offer walkers kilometers of water gardens, natural meadows and even beaches in fine weather. Since the Confluence eco-neighborhood, the city has been multiplying the signals of change, and people can participate in it, for example by visiting HEAT, the H7 dining hall, a totemic place that also combines work spaces and event halls. On the menu for lovers of good food: sharing and encounters, street food in short circuits, respect for the seasons, fair and reasonable prices. Nuits Sonores, the music festival that celebrates its 21st anniversary in 2024 (May 7-12), is also part of this committed movement, taking over HEAT, the banks of the Saône, the public space and industrial wastelands to get people dancing, while at the same time, with its NS Lab, encouraging citizen reflection and militant cultural actions. Let's hear it!

Heat Festival Nuits Sonores (May 7-12, 2024)

Montpellier, halls and company in Occitanie

Marielle Rossignol
© Marielle Rossignol

The finest in contemporary architecture and design have taken up residence in Montpellier. On the side of Port Marianne and on the banks of the Lez, there is audacity but also animation since the urban experiments cohabit with places of life as cheerful as the Market of the Lez and its greedy halls. In place of former printing works, a joyful gathering of food trucks, second-hand goods dealers, recycling shops, restaurants, bars, rooftop terraces, local producers' stalls, and petanque courts invite people to live together and eat well. This is a project shared by Halle Tropisme, another prominent third place, installed in the former mechanical workshops of the École d'Application d'Infanterie de Montpellier and imagined as a 10,000 m² village. On the program, music and culinary experiments, contemporary art and clubbing, debates and afterworks, DIY, recycling and gardening, bargain hunting and solidarity...Let's run there!

Marché du Lez Tropisme Hall

Lille, hunger for the future in the Hauts-de-France

© halluneed

The World Design Capital 2020 has a foot in the future and a great appetite for anything that can make life more beautiful. To share in this cultural and artistic effervescence, head to the Saint-Sauveur train station, the HQ of northern audacity with its ever-busy halls and its Bistrot Saint-So. Concerts and meetings, exhibitions and exchanges, the Lille metropolis is hungry for change, even on the plates. Gastronomy can be enjoyed in a festive and locavore mode with the Mange Lille collective, a gathering of passionate and committed chefs who are celebrating their 11th anniversary in 2024 with a host of events. To get your feet wet with healthy and seasonal food, you can also discover the latest gourmet and fun spots in the city: Grand Scène, a temple of locavore street food and Hall U Need, a gigantic complex mixing leisure activities galore (bowling, karaoke, virtual reality) and 100% zero waste healthy cuisine.

Grand Scène Mange Lille Hall U Need

Rennes, fertile ground in Brittany

Julien Mignot / Destination Rennes
© Julien Mignot / Destination Rennes

Let's face it, Rennes is picking up the pace. Third places and urban farms are spreading, combining agriculture and culture, food and social ties, always in a recreational mode. Since spring 2021, the Ferme de Quincé has been adapting the vegetables from its garden to the tastes of its restaurant customers and to the rhythms of its musical program. In the former farmhouse of the Château de la Prévalaye, the Basse-Cour is a space for training, transmission, restoration, artistic and culinary residences, a shared place dedicated to healthy, sustainable and convivial food. On sunny days, welcome to its Guinguette, to share the world in good company in front of beautiful seasonal dishes. As for festivals, the watchword is also creative sobriety and militant transmission. Beyond their musical programming, Les Tombées de la Nuit (in July) and the TransMusicales (in December) embark the spectators in their sustainable reflections. We say bravo!

Ferme de Quincé La Basse Cour Les Tombées de la Nuit July 2024 Les TransMusicales December 4 to 8, 2024

Paris, green palm

Maxime Delvaux
© Maxime Delvaux

There is no shortage of urban farms and festive third places concerned with the environment and the sustainable economy in Paris and its region, including on rooftops, such as NU-Paris in the 15th arrondissement. The year 2023 promises even more beautiful hatchings. For example, in the Meudon forest (accessible by bus and RER), the Hangar Y (a former airship hangar transformed into a cultural and event venue) will welcome the curious from this spring onwards, focusing on Art, Science and Nature, with an open-air art trail and a country-style, bistronomic and locavore restaurant.

More urban but just as spectacular, the former campus of the University of Censier becomes, in the heart of Paris, an ephemeral wasteland of 25,000m² dedicated to Knowledge in all its forms, that is to say a profusion of conferences, exhibitions, markets, concerts that will give the desire to learn and understand while feasting. A canteen-restaurant to reflect on sustainable and solidarity-based food, an amphitheater and a Grand Plateau to meet, as well as a cabaret will encourage exchanges and encounters.

The same state of mind at Bercy Beaucoup, a third place in the Bercy-Charenton district (12th) combining shared gardens, a recycling center, a restaurant-guinguette (with a bread oven!) and wild nights at the Boîte à Sardines, the smallest nightclub in the world!

There will also be a lot of atmosphere this year on 31st May, 1st and 2nd June at We Love Green, the pop music eco-festival in the Bois de Vincennes imagined as an open-air research laboratory, a place for global and immersive experiences, festive and civic, creative and responsible, artistic and sustainable with conferences and workshops between two concerts. We like it!

NU-Paris, Nature Urbaine Hangar Y Cesure Bercy Beaucoup We Love Green Festival (from 31 May to 2 June 2024)

Tours, seeds of possibility in the Loire Valley

The cyclists of the Loire à vélo cross it by taking their time: south of Tours, the eco-ludic park of La Gloriette is a natural site of nearly 200 hectares dedicated to the environment in all its forms. Educational spaces, workshops and concerts, all year long a program of events and activities invites you to go green, a few kilometers from the beautiful castles of the Loire. In June, don't miss the Potager Electronique, a joyful festival of contemporary music with a wealth of artists and emerging projects in an unusual setting. Another site that deserves a detour is the Beaumonts, a vast third place installed on former military barracks where creative, solidarity and ecological initiatives flourish. Season 3 will be launched on Spring 2024. We can't wait!

Parc de la Gloriette Le Potager Electronique 31 May to 2nd June, 2024 Les Beaumonts

Recommendations and advice: To get to the towns and cities mentioned, it's best to use soft forms of transport such as the train to limit your impact on the environment. During events, a number of shuttles and other environmentally-friendly transport solutions are generally put in place. To find out about them, simply consult the access page for each event. Car-sharing is also a good way of enjoying the festival of your choice while meeting people who share your interests.

Also to be read: - 8 tips for sustainable travel in France - Labels you need to know to travel sustainably in France

By France.fr

The magazine of the destination unravels an unexpected France that revisits tradition and cultivates creativity. A France far beyond what you can imagine…