Top Reasons to Visit France in 2021

France welcomed nearly 90 million visitors in 2019 and as soon as the borders reopen to international visitors, we look forward to welcoming you once more. As you can imagine, quite a number of inaugurations and major events in 2020 have been significantly delayed or postponed. Here’s a quick rundown on what’s been moved to 2021 as well as what’s in store next year for Paris and other French regions.

Paris – New Museum Openings

Bourse de Commerce

Among the long-awaited and belated inaugurations is the Bourse de Commerce | Collection Pinault in Paris. This new contemporary art museum is now scheduled to open in the spring of 2021. Designed by architect Tadao Ando, it will be housed in the former Commodity Exchange, the Bourse du Commerce, in the heart of the city. The dome topped building with 3000 square meters of exhibition spaces will  host the 5000-piece Pinault art collection.

Hotel de la Marine

Having postponed its opening to the public in July, the Hotel de la Marine will now open April 13, 2021. It is located on the Place de la Concorde right across the rue Royale from the legendary Hotel de Crillon. The former headquarters of the French Navy from the French Revolution through 2015, the 18th century palace is being restored to showcase the royal and state’s period furniture, tapestries and decorative objects to be displayed in the palace’s ceremonial ball rooms.

Paris – New Developments

New exterior facade of the Samaritaine

The “new” Samaritaine

Another development worth celebrating by Parisians and visitors alike is the opening early 2021 of what can be called the “new” Samaritaine. It was founded in 1870 by Ernest Cognacq and his wife Marie-Louise Jaÿ, with a first boutique at the Pont-Neuf. They expanded to include the now landmarked Art Nouveau and Art Deco buildings that made the department store so iconic. This shopping & family destination of Paris was purchased in 2001 by luxury powerhouse LVMH. Closed in 2005, the new iteration, overseen by the award winning SANAA Agency, will artfully meld contemporary architecture and restoration of the historic buildings and include a socially diverse component—offices, subsidized  housing and a child care center in the ancillary buildings that stretch two blocks between the Quai du Louvre and the Rue de Rivoli. The three main buildings will house a department store, food courts and restaurants, and in the Art Deco building facing the Seine River a 72-room Cheval Blanc hotel. An undertaking that would have made its founders proud.

Manufacture de la Mode de Chanel

Paris will also welcome to its immediate suburbs an innovative project, The Manufacture de la Mode de Chanel, Northeast of Paris at the Porte d’Aubervilliers. Designed by architect Rudi Ricotti, the building will welcome all luxury crafts in one place, which means workshops of jewelers, bootmakers, embroiderers, glove makers and luxury ready-to-wear brands.

French Regions – New Cultural Venues

Bordeaux – Bassins de Lumières

Bordeaux’s Bassins de Lumières, a grand digital and immersive exhibition space housed in 4 huge basins of the former WWII submarine base opened this June after just a three month delay. Running through January 3, its two inaugural exhibits, « Gustav Klimt, gold and colour » and « Paul Klee, painting music” will be followed March 2021 to January 2022 by “Monet, Renoir, Chagall Journeys Around the Mediterranean” & and on the same theme an exhibit of Nice native “Yves Klein: Infinite Blue.”The neighboring Cité du Vin and recently opened Musée Mer Marine are all a 15mn tram ride from the city’s central Place de la Comédie.

Les Franciscaines

Deauville – Les Franciscaines

A new cultural venue is coming March 30, 2021 to the chic seaside resort of Deauville in Normandy. Known for its horse racing, photography and the American Film Festival, Deauville will also be known for Les Franciscaines, an innovative cultural center featuring a museum, media center and auditorium. It will be housed in former buildings used by Franciscan nuns since 1876. Les Franciscaines’ architectural rebirth will meld the historic building with ultra-contemporary elements and interiors. The museum’s collection will include 546 art works donated at his death by figurative painter André Hambourg—all of which were inspired by Deauville’s beautiful coastline known as the Cote Fleurie. An additional 100 paintings from the artist’s personal collection will be permanently exhibited including works from his contemporaries Marie Laurencin, Foujita, Van Dongen, and Derain. The city has also embarked on an aggressive acquisitions program to grow its collection with works by Eugène Boudin, Paul Signac, André Lhôte, Moïse Kissling, Raoul Dufy and others.

Fontevraud – Modern Art Museum

Located in the Atlantic Loire Valley is the 12th century Fontevraud Abbey near Chinon and Saumur. Fontevraud will now welcome this December a modern art museum, the private collection of Martine and Léon Cligman. These 900 works from the 19th and 20th centuries include paintings by Toulouse-Lautrec, Corot, Degas, Delacroix and Soutine, and sculptures by Rodin and Germaine Richier. They will be displayed in the Fannerie, the former stables of the mother abbesses, who must have had quite a collection of horses.

French Regions – Festivals

Antibes – Jazz à Juan

Similarly delayed, the major festival known as Jazz à Juan will now celebrate its 60th anniversary July 9 to 25, 2021 with added swing. One of Europe’s oldest festivals, Jazz à Juan has hosted the greats from Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles and Miles Davis to Sarah Vaughan, Jessie Norman and Wynton Marsalis—just to name a few. All performers, both past and current, take the Jazz World’s most beautiful stage—La Pinède Gould and its backdrop, the Mediterranean Sea. The new line-up should be announced soon.

Bordeaux – Fete du Vin

One more reason to visit and pop the corks is the June 17 to 20, 2021 Bordeaux Wine Festival, the largest wine festival in Europe.

Brittany – Festival Intercèltique de Lorient

Originally scheduled for 2020, Brittany will celebrate with added oomph the 50th anniversary of the Festival Intercèltique de Lorient from August 6 to 15, 2021. The festival is a chance to witness and listen to spectacular Celtic music and traditions for which the region is known.

Loire Valley and Atlantic Loire Valley

The Loire Valley & sister region the Atlantic Loire Valley are still celebrating the 20th anniversary of their listing as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The listing includes 170 miles along the fabled river, from Sully-sur-Loire to Chalonnes-sur-Loire. In addition to being able to see all the Renaissance marvels anytime, like Chambord and Chenonceau there is major news in the Atlantic Loire Valley


Finally, starting this December and through 2021, France, Normandy and Rouen in particular will celebrate the bicentennial of the birth of native son Gustave Flaubert, author of the masterpiece Madame Bovary. [Gustave Flaubert was born in Rouen December 21, 1821]

French West Indies Update

Closer to home, the French West Indies also have good news. As soon as the borders reopen, Jet Blue will resume its non-stop flights from New York/JFK to The Guadeloupe Islands through April 2021 and American Airlines will also resume its year-round non-stop flights from Miami to Guadeloupe and to Fort-de-France, Martinique.

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