France is always an exciting destination but the year ahead promises a buffet of intriguing events beyond the capitol. Read on for the top reasons to pack your bags and book a flight:
NORMANDY – 75th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings
June 5 and 6, 2019 will mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings and the launch of the crucial Battle of Normandy, which paved the way for Europe’s liberation and the end of WWII. The anniversary will also include military parades, fireworks, giant picnics, concerts, airdrops, and of course, a great international ceremony attended by the Allied heads of state on June 6.
Beyond the historic anniversary, there are several other related events:
Caen will play host to the exceptional travelling exhibition of iconic Norman Rockwell paintings, Enduring Ideals: Rockwell, Roosevelt & the Four Freedoms, from June 4-October 27, 2019. Moreover, the Normandy Forum for Peace, an international symposium and debate on how to build a peaceful world together, will be held at the magnificent “Abbaye aux Dames”. Finally, the Caen Memorial will inaugurate a new high-tech wing, which will feature a 360 degree immersive film experience on Europe’s 20th century.
Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the Armada of Rouen, the Armada of Liberty, will take place June 5 to 16, 2019. Over 50 tall ships will sail in and dock along the Seine river banks of Rouen, Normandy’s capital city. This impressive gathering will include parades, balls, concerts and unexpected festivities. Among the tall ships: the replica of the Hermione, the frigate that ferried the Marquis de Lafayette to America in 1780.
LOIRE VALLEY – 500th Anniversary of the French Renaissance(s)
Known as the playground of the Kings of France, and remembered as the cradle of the French Renaissance, the Loire Valley will shine even brighter in 2019. The UNESCO World Heritage region will be celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the French Renaissance, which coincides with the anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death in France.
During the first year of Francois Ier’s reign in 1515, and following his victory at Marignano, the French King met Leonardo Da Vinci. Awed by the genius, and by Italy’s artistic and architectural renewal, France’s great Renaissance king invited the artist to live in France. In 1516 (with the Mona Lisa, The Virgin and child with St. Anne and St. John the Baptist, all now at the Louvre Museum), Leonardo left Rome for Royal Amboise, settling at the Château du Clos Lucé, where he spent the last three years of his life.
The building of majestic Chateau de Chambord, whose staircase and design was inspired by Da Vinci’s ideal city, began in 1519. This inspired later Renaissance gems like Chenonceau–of Catherine de Medici fame, Azay-le-Rideau, Valençay and Villandry. The program of events will include a large traveling digital show, an international architecture competition, banquets, and a wealth of exhibitions, including a virtual exhibit of Leonardo’s 17 masterpieces at the Chateau du Clos Lucé.
News from Top French Cities
While the Top French Cities of Orleans and Tours celebrate the French Renaissance year round, mark your calendars for these upcoming developments:
- In late March the city of Saint-Etienne will hold its 11th Design Biennial, curated by American Lisa White.
- Starting April 27, 2019 and through early December, the great Northern city of Lille will be effervescent —indoors and out—with contemporary art exhibits, installations and other events. A great open-air kick-off will launch “Eldorado: Lille 3000,” a huge citywide fete held every three years.
- Lille will also host March 13 to June 11, 2019 a major Giacometti retrospective featuring over 150 works at its Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.
- Sports fans must know by now that France will be hosting the FIFA Women’s World Cup from June 7 to July 7 in 9 cities. Six of the 9 host stadiums are in the Top French Cities: Grenoble, Le Havre, Montpellier, Nice, Reims, and Rennes; from which of course the French team will try to match their male counterparts and win. Updates on the FIFA website.
- Elegant Montpellier will welcome a new contemporary art center in July which will be known as Le MoCo.
- Nice will be now be accessible via direct flights from New York on La Compagnie from May through October.