Your guide to the best events to attend
The Cadre Noir de Saumur
The Cadre Noir is one of the world’s most famous cavalry display teams at the Ecole Nationale d’Equitation in Saumur. The incredible displays are like an equine ballet, with leaping and pirouetting with style and precision. An absolutely fantastic experience. Cadre Noir performances are usually from April to October. The Carrousel de Saumur, a prestigious equestrian festival held in July, combines tradition and modernity with great success.
Le Mans 24-hour Motorbike Race
The competition all the manufacturers and riders want to win. Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Suzuki have each come here to find glory and recognition. But the 24-hour race is principally and above all about the biker spirit which reigns throughout the weekend, taking over the track and the village alleyways. Held in April.
Europa Jazz Festival in Le Mans
Since its creation in 1980, Europa Jazz has promoted 1,045 concerts in the five Departments of the Pays de la Loire and hosted some 600,000 spectators. The only jazz festival of world standing in the region, its unique and original programming allows plenty of room for improvisation, modern and European jazz, fusion styles and the jazz greats. Held in April and May.
La Nuit des Chimeres
The streets of the old city in Le Mans come alive with illuminations and music. Behind the best-conserved Roman ramparts in Europe (outside of Rome and Istanbul), the Plantagenet City opens its doors to you for an extraordinary voyage through time. A journey of lights, images, and music take you through the10 hectares of magnificently restored historical centre, down cobbled streets to explore 1600 years of architecture, from antiquity to the Renaissance. Every evening from June to September.
A bi-annual event, this will be held in 2012. Nantes, Saint-Nazaire and the Loire estuary become an exhibition with incredible artistic installations from some 40 international artists: sculptures, fountains, mobile architecture, and floating works. If you want to get a good look, take a river cruise on the estuary and you will see contemporary works on an extraordinary scale all along your route. June to August.
Le Mans 24-Hour Race
More than 220,000 spectators are expected at this most prestigious endurance motor race. On this exceptional circuit, the longest in the world (13,650km), the cars race at over 300kph. With 24 hours of engines, noise and fury, 100% adrenaline is guaranteed! Held in June.
The Festival d’Anjou has taken place for 60 years and is the second theatre festival in France. It offers a program of outdoor performances in historic sites of the department of Maine et Loire, historically known as Anjou. Held in June and July.
Celebrating Summer at La Roche-sur-Yon
This summer festival has been going for years and is a popular favourite. There are “Summer Café” free concerts in the town hall garden on Fridays and Saturdays; “Les Terrasses Nap” showcases young, regional talent in Napoleon Square; “Summer Sketches” theatrical performances in the Compagnons Garden; and “A Summer at the Cinema” free, open-air movie showings.
June to September.
Les Heures d’été
Shows, concerts, story-telling, open-air cinema, and other entertainments: with regular events throughout the summer, Nantes evenings promise to be friendly and festive. And for a dreamy, peaceful evening, watch the setting sun from the Island of Nantes, in its enchanting setting in the Loire. July to August.
Angers Summer Festival
During the six weeks of the Angers Summer Festival, the magnificent Cloître Toussaint welcomes a group of renowned, talented artists. Go on a musical voyage to discover world music, jazz, French song music, and more. July to August
Rose Festival in Doué la Fontaine
In this exceptional troglodyte village, more than 100,000 roses are on display, an extravaganza of colour and fragrance. Fairytale lighting enhances the charming and unique setting. This exhibition has been held since 1959 in this rose-growers’ town, which has become a major international floral design competition. Held one week in July.
Festival of Music and Good Food at the Chateau du Lude
In the months of July, August and September, Le Lude hosts a weekend of music and good food at the chateau. Chamber music plays during your visit while the cooks busy themselves preparing wonderful things to eat. You can also visit a special kitchen garden, with its espalier and cordon fruit trees.
Les Nuits de la Mayenne
The Mayenne Nights summer festival held in July and August takes place in several different historical venues across the Mayenne department. A mix of theatre and heritage and music, it begins with a dinner, followed by the performances in unusual and wonderful settings.
Tel: 02 43 53 63 90
This is a music, theatre, and dance street festival in Pornichet, held on Tuesdays and Thursdays in July and August. Street theatre, dance, or modern circus are in action on Tuesdays, and an exciting programme of concerts on the bay are offered on Thursdays. There are several evening events and free shows, more than 200 artists and some 35,000 spectators. Also, on Wednesdays during July and August, Pornichet closes its esplanade to cars and dedicates it to rollerblading. Skaters of all ages will enjoy the beautiful views of the ocean.
Three Elephants Festival
Contemporary music and street festival in Laval. Unique and warmly welcoming, this music festival brings together eclectic artists for a heady mix of concerts and street performances. Each year, over 15 000 people make their way to this delightful event. Held in July.
World music in the famous port of Saint-Nazaire, usually held in August. Since 1992, world music has found a port of call at Saint-Nazaire. Two days and two nights of lively music, traditional and modern, originating from a different part of the world every year.
The Bois de la Chaise Regatta
This regatta on Noirmoutier is one of the largest gatherings of traditional sailing boats on the Atlantic coast. There are classic and “Belle Plaisance” pleasure boats built of wood, and replicas of older boats, large and small. The regatta welcomes nearly 140 sailboats, 600 crew members, and more than 20,000 spectators to the island of Noirmoutier. Held in August, there are three days of festivities with numerous free activities, including the great parade and the fireworks show on Les Dames beach.
Les Rendez-Vous de l’Erdre
This international jazz festival in Nantes is held along the River Erdre with free concerts, sea shanties, and tall ships. Taste exotic specialities and bask in the late summer sun. Usually held towards the end of August/beginning September.
Angers Retro Air Show
Held at Angers Marce Airport, the Anjou Ailes Retro show is provided by the Regional Museum of the Air with the participation of the French Army of the Air. Usually held in August. For more information, phone 02 41 33 04 10 (French).
Laval Air Show
Featuring the French Air Force Alpha Jet Solo display, this air show’s highlights include: aerobatics, parachutists, helicopters, TF51 Mustang Duxford, Beech 17 Staggerwing, DC3 Douglas, De Havilland Vampires, Sea Fury, Skyraider, and much more. For more information, visit the official website or contact the Laval tourist office. Usually held in September.
24 Hours of Le Mans for Trucks
Since 1981, the 24 Heures du Mans Trucks event at the Bugatti Race Track in Le Mans has been more than just a sporting weekend; it’s a festival for both spectators and drivers. Over the years, the event has grown to become the most important race of its kind, not only in Europe, but in the world. Numerous activities are organised off the track, including a decorated truck contest and fireworks on Saturday evening. Held in September.
Every September for one weekend, the chateaux, abbeys and gardens open their doors free of charge for visitors to discover the beautiful and fascinating heritage of our historical region.
Loire International Canoe Marathon
A top competition in western France, the Loire International Canoe Marathon brings together the best international canoeists and a large crowd of enthusiastic supporters. Usually held in September.
XXL Mountain Bike Gamelle Trophy
The Gamelle Trophy offers an exciting and challenging route through the Sille-le-Guillaume forest in the heart of the Normandy-Maine Regional Nature Park. It brings together more than 4,000 competitors over the weekend, with competitions in four distances: 15, 25, 40 or 50 km. This is a popular event for mountain bikers of all levels of experience. Usually held in September.
Lion d’Angers National Stud Event at Isle Briand
Almost 40,000 spectators are expected to attend this four-day international horse show, which is one of the most prestigious equestrian events of its kind. With three main sections, dressage, cross-country, and show-jumping, this competition organised by the National Stud at Lion d’Angers is not to be missed. Held in October.
The Vendée Globe Yacht Race
Every four years, the world’s top yachtsmen meet at Les Sables-d’Olonne for the only non-stop round-the-world yacht race without assistance. Single-handedly, the competitors will sail from East to West via three capes, before returning to the port of Sables-d’Olonne four months later.
Les Goûts Uniques is a culinary arts festival taking place in the Pays de la Loire, a unique event on the French culinary scene. Educational, touristic, hedonistic… the events shows the diversity and the quality of the region’s food production of seafood, fruits, vegetables and meats.
For more information on these events, contact the local tourist office.
Editor’s Note: We’ll be adding to this section to make it as comprehensive as possible. We have found a few good websites with information in English that you may wish to visit:
For listings of events in the Pays de la Loire, please visit the regional tourist website.
For events in Anjou (Maine et Loire), please visit the Anjou Tourism website.
For events in Sarthe, please visit the Sarthe Tourism website.
For events in Loire Atlantique, please visit the Loire Atlantique tourism website.
For events in the Vendee, please visit the Vendee Tourism website.
For events in the Mayenne, please visit the Mayenne Tourism website.
To add your event to this page, please email us.