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5 reasons to visit france in May

My beloved France shares my adoration for the the month of May, bestowing upon her an inordinate amount of holidays, and some of the most anticipated events of the season. While I realize it is now June, it's never to early to plan for May 2025! On y va?




Beat the summer crowds, enjoy cooler temperatures, and take part in some iconic events!

1 - Cannes Film Festival




That's a wrap! It was light's out for the 77th Festival de Cannes on May 25th. This year the international Jury was lead by President Greta Gerwig, and was composed of eight script writers, directors and actors from around the world. Representing France were actress Eva Green, and crowd favorite actor/producer Omar Sy. For a list of all of the award winners: https://www.festival-cannes.com/en/awards/


Every year the 11-day festival begins somewhere around the third week of May. I love that it is such an international affair, encompassing film industry professionals and amateurs around the globe.


During this time, star-gazing in and around Cannes is at its finest! There is a little "village" created along the Croisette, with souvenir shops, chic restaurants and lots and lots of press. I had always thought you had to be somebody to enjoy anything at the festival, but every night at 9:30 pm the Cinéma de la Plage features a blockbuster film en plein air that is open to the public. For a more intimate experience, you can actually go see a film! Without breaking the bank - tickets are only around 8 euros. For a list of showtimes and ticket information: https://www.quinzaine-cineastes.fr/en. We attended a film premier in May 2023, with the filmmaker and cast in attendance. What an amazing experience!


Practical Tip: Stay in Nice and take the train to Cannes to avoid traffic and parking hassles. It's quick and easy!


2 - Grand Prix de Monaco

(okay, technically NOT France, but a stone's throw!)




The Grand Prix of Monaco is the race that everyone wants to win. Monaco is one of the four original circuits, along with Monza, Silverstone and Spa, and is the "slowest" Formula 1 race due to the hairpin turns on the narrow city streets. It is nearly impossible for drivers to pass, so the qualifying position is extremely important. It is an especially fun race to watch, as there are spectacular yachts that line the port, and the celebrities come out in groves (many arriving from the Cannes film festival). While you see people decked out in Ferrari red and other team colors, you also see a fair amount of Chanel, Dior and other designers gracing the bleachers.


The race usually takes place on the last Sunday of May. The Netflix series "Drive to Survive" has introduced even more fans to the sport, and tickets can be hard to come by (and very expensive!), but it is such an exhilarating experience. If you can't make it to the race, you can also attend the practice round on Friday or the qualifying round on Saturday. There are also some chances to see the drivers on Thursday, and potentially get autographs.


This year, I was over the moon that Monegasque native Charles Leclerc, driving for Scuderia Ferrari, took the championship! He has never won his hometown race before, and it was a very touching moment!


Practical Tip: There is only one road in and out of Monaco, so plan on long wait times to neighboring cities and villages, even if you plan to take the train. Plan ahead for next year's race:




3 - La Fête des Mères


For the past two years, Mother's Day has coincided with the Grand Prix de Monaco. I had the good fortune to be at the Grand Prix with my son in 2022, (If Charles Leclerc would have won that year, it would have been a trifecta!)


If you play your cards right, you can celebrate Mother's Day in the US, then get to France and celebrate again! While Father's Day is usually the same date in both places, Mother's Day is pushed out to the last Sunday, most likely to not coincide with Victory in Europe Day on May 8th.




Which brings me to some practical advice about holidays in May. While it is great for the French to have so many celebrations in one month, it can make things a bit tricky for tourists. May 1st is Labor Day, and often means strikes or manifestations for any disgruntled industry. I was due to arrive in France on May 1, 2023, but came a day early as my London-Nice flight was cancelled due to demonstrations. Just being aware of this possibility will help avoid any unforeseen hiccups!


Ascension weekend moves around on the calendar, but usually falls somewhere in May, and means a 4-day weekend for a lot of people. This can mean more congestion at popular destinations, so again, plan ahead.


Holidays in May:

Labor Day - May 1

Victory in Europe - May 8

Mother's Day - varies but usually last Sunday in May

Ascension - varies but usually in May and means 4-day weekend for many




4 - Beat the Crowds & enjoy cooler weather


"Shoulder season" is a great time to visit France, and that includes the month of May. Many families wait to travel until their kids are out of school, usually in June. Arriving in May allows you to benefit from smaller crowds and often cheaper hotels and airfare.


Pracitcal Tip: If you plan to use airline miles to book, the flights are typically available around 330 days in advance. Book early to get best flight options, including upgrades, as more and more people are using points to travel.





While American children are in school until about the first week in June, French children don't get out until around the end of June. This doesn't mean that students and teachers aren't "over it", however! There are lots of field trips planned for this time of year, so it is possible you will be sharing iconic sites with groups of school children. But hey, usually you can see over their heads!


With the climate change, European travel can be quite warm, or even miserably hot, in the summer months. Especially since air conditioning is not as widespread as it is in the US. The month of May can be a bit unpredictable, as it can be anywhere, but usually temperatures mild to cool, but not cold, and wearing an extra layer is easier than sweating off five pounds! Expect a few rain clouds, but also some spectacular sunny days!



5 - Les Fleurs! Poppies, Tulips and more


May flowers are spectacular in France! It starts with le muguet, where the custom is to give each other Lily's of the Valley on May 1st. Then come the daffodils, primrose and the impressive poppy fields that take your breath away. There is something so special about these first spring flowers that bring a promise of beautiful summer days to follow.



Although lavender usually steals the show in Provence, it is not at its most glorious until June or July. For those arriving in spring, you may just be lucky enough to catch the tulip fields abloom in the département of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. They can peak as early as March and may be done in April, but it is worth checking in May, as these are the same spectacular Dutch bulbs, but in French soil. I have definitely added this to my list of destinations!




Hoping I may see you in France in the merry month of May!


Amitiés,

Traci


Let us know about your favorite May experiences in France!

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