Le French Festival in the Islands of Guernsey
Come for the Renoir, stay for the culture. This Autumn, Le French Festival returns to the Islands of Guernsey, with a host of French themed activities, events, food, and even an Opera.
02 October 2023
Taking place between Tuesday 10th and Sunday 15th October, and returning for the first time since 2019, the festival is the perfect opportunity to enjoy a taste of France, on the Channel Island situated just 30 miles from the Normandy coast.
Alongside Le French Festival, Guernsey will be hosting the world’s only Renoir exhibition in 2023, celebrating the 140th anniversary of Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s stay on the island.
Visit the islands that inspired the artwork.
Organised by Art for Guernsey, in partnership with Guernsey Museums and Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny, ‘Renoir in Guernsey, 1883’ will feature a host of major international loans and will see many of his works return to where they were originally painted. The exhibition opens on 30th September and runs until 17th December. Tickets are available on the Art for Guernsey website here.
Once your appetite for French culture has been whetted by the works of one of the world’s leading impressionist painters, there will be plenty more on offer to immerse yourself in French culture.
The Normandy markets are returning and will be based in a new central position within the Market Square, found in the centre of Guernsey’s capital, St Peter Port. Enjoy a charming mix of French traders selling cheese, honey, saucisson, charcuterie, cider, Calvados, and much more. Stalls will be set up from Wednesday 11th to Sunday 15th October, so there’s plenty of time to find a selection of fantastic French treats.
For those who love the distinctive flavours of French cuisine, there are plenty of foodie offerings to get your teeth into. Family-owned bistro and patisserie, ‘Crepe Maison’, known for their traditional Breton galettes and crepes, will be offering a cheese fondue, for two, plus a bottle of French cider, for £50 per couple, as they transform into ‘Crepe Maison La Nuit’ each evening of the festival.
La Fregate restaurant, which commands a fine view overlooking the harbour and beyond, is one of the best seafood restaurants on the island, and has submitted a French menu into Tennerfest, the Channel Islands’ beloved fixed price food festival, which runs through October. The Cornerstone Pub, run by Frenchman Marvin Odillard will be offering an exclusively French menu through October and November.
Other gastronomic goodies include French cocktail of the week at Balthazar, one of Guernsey’s most vibrant bars, and The Vintage Tram dishing up a mixture of French and local Guernsey courses at the Guernsey Information Centre, including Guernsey Bean Jar and vegetable bouillabaisse.
Tour de France
Join Go Guernsey Land and Sea for a French themed, guided cycle ride through the charming harbour town of St Peter Port. The 3-hour guided e-bike tour in the afternoon of Tuesday 10th October will focus on the French influences on the island. The tour starts and finishes in St. Peter Port, takes approximately 2.5 - 3 hours, and is roughly 12km in distance. Tickets cost £55 per adult, and e-bikes, helmets, Hi-Viz jackets and guides are provided. The maximum group size is 12 people. Self-guided tours are also available for the more adventurous, or for those looking to discover more at their own pace.
Walk in the footsteps of two famous greats
Located in the Moulin Huet Valley on the Guernsey's south coast, the Renoir Walk is a short, self-guided trail that takes visitors to locations where Renoir painted during a summer holiday in 1883.
The famous Impressionist spent just over a month on Guernsey and created 15 paintings during his stay, the majority of which depict views of Moulin Huet Bay, and which are considered to be among his best pieces of work.
The Renoir Walk follows his footsteps around the bay and is marked by five empty picture frames, which are placed in the exact spots where Renoir worked on his own paintings. The frames – especially commissioned to echo the ornate frames Renoir chose for his own artworks – allow viewers to see Moulin Huet from the same perspectives as the Frenchman did.
For those that lean more towards literature than impressionism, on Tuesday 10th October visitors will have the chance to wander through the same steps and alleyways in St Peter Port as Victor Hugo, on a guided 1.5-hour walking tour. Here as a political exile, the French romantic writer was charmed by the island, staying for 15-years, and writing some of his many masterpieces here, including Les Misérables and Toilers of the Sea. The tour gives an opportunity to learn more about his time in Guernsey and see where he lived, while enjoying the views which inspired him and hearing about his fascinating life. Tours can be booked by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our French Collection
The Guille-Allès Library is displaying a variety of French-themed books and other items available to borrow. For travellers these include French learning packs, guidebooks, and French novels for the beach. There’s something for everyone: from those with a penchant for Monet or Hugo to those seeking a soupçon of Michel Roux’s culinary delights.
Set in picturesque Candie Gardens, and steeped in history, the Priaulx Library has been the centre for local records and culture since 1889. The library has many fascinating historic books and documents written in French, including maps, family records, pictures, photographs, books, local newspapers, family and military records and important local documents. Head to the library at 10:30am on Wednesday 11th October for a free French language librarian talk in which we’ll take a look at the documents and the history of the French language in Guernsey.
Full details of the festival can be found at www.visitguernsey.com/experiences/events/le-french-festival