7 reasons to visit France in 2019

It’s always a good time to plan a trip to France – but more than ever in 2019, with culture, sport and gastronomy galore. The major events of the year give you so many opportunities to explore the country’s vast and varied regions. Here’s a round-up of what to look forward to.

1. The FIFA Women’s World Cup

After golf comes football. Post-Ryder Cup (with the greens of the Golf National in Yvelines almost still echoing with the clamour of supporters), France will host the FIFA Women’s World Cup from 7 June–7 July 2019. Teams are coming from all over the world to play matches in nine host cities across France. And if you can extend your stay into the summer, continue with the Tour de France and F1 Grand Prix at Le Castellet. What a season of sport!

2. 500 years of Renaissance in the Loire Valley

Leonardo da Vinci died at Clos-Lucé in Amboise, Marie de Médici was born, and the first stone was laid for the Chateau de Chambord: all this was 500 years ago. The region of Centre-Val de Loire is set to celebrate this momentous anniversary with a plethora of events throughout 2019. It’s a great time to (re)discover the treasures of the region: three UNESCO-listed sites (the cathedrals of Bourges and Chartres and the Loire Valley itself), six cities of art and history, 65 museums, 70 parks and gardens. Need we say more?

3. Eldorado in Lille and the Pinault Collection in Paris

This year, art will be everywhere in the streets of Lille with Eldorado, the fifth thematic festival organised by Lille3000. Expect exhibitions in the city’s iconic squares, monumental open-air installations and animations on the theme of a lost paradise. Among other cultural highlights, we can’t wait to explore the Pinault Collection, due to take up residence at the Bourse de Commerce in Paris – not to mention the long-anticipated annual art events in the capital such as FIAC and Nuit Blanche, and elsewhere, Le Voyage à Nantes.

4. The 75th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings

This year more than ever, France is celebrating freedom. In memory of 6 June 1944, the day of the Allied landings on the Normandy coast, international commemorations for the 75th anniversary will include spectacular fireworks, a giant picnic on Omaha Beach and liberation dances. A surge of fraternity in memory of the fallen soldiers who liberated the country.

5. Gout de France and the Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie

From the autumn, foodie visitors will be able to discover the brand new Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie in Lyon, at the heart of the magnificent Grand Hotel-Dieu. There’s never been a better invitation to stay in the city that’s made cuisine a way of life since ancient times. Of course, gastronomy is big business everywhere in France and for all French people. From March, the annual Gout de France will be held around the world to celebrate the French meal, supported by special menus concocted by participating chefs. There’s no denying that the food is good in France whatever time you visit.

6. The Rouen Armada

Mainland France is bordered by almost 6,000km of coast, a figure that triples if we include the overseas territories. Suffice to say that the country holds a fundamental fascination for the sea. As proof, the Armada that takes place every five years in Rouen (Normandy) showcases stunning sailboats and some of the world’s most incredible old sailing ships. A unique maritime atmosphere envelops the quays and it’s an event not to be missed. This year, the sea will also be the star of major exhibitions ‘Oceans’ at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris (from April) and ‘La Mer XXL’ in Nantes (29 June–10 July). Can you smell the spray?

7. Paris: temple of fashion

Fashion never stops reinventing itself – and Paris is at the centre of it all. Galeries Lafayette is preparing to open a new store on the Champs-Élysées in March 2019. The brand promises an innovative concept, based on the allocation of personal stylists for each customer and spectacular decor. The world of fashion lives mostly by the rhythm of the Fashion Weeks that punctuate the calendar in Paris throughout the year, from Haute Couture to men’s and ladies’ fashion, spring/summer and autumn/winter. During these weeks, fashion is out on the streets more than ever.