Long established in Ireland, the UK and the US, it would be fair to say that Halloween is not quite as widely celebrated in France as abroad. However, change is afoot, albeit slowly, and each year more events crop up for young and old alike to celebrate the autumnal feast. We’ve made a round-up of some of the spookiest Halloween events happening all over France this year.
Let’s start in the French capital, Paris:
If you weren’t lucky (or not) enough to win a night’s stay in the Catacombs or don’t want to be part of Disneyland’s famed celebrations, why not visit the Stade de France? From 30th October until 1st November, between 4:30pm and 11pm, you can go backstage at the fifth largest stadium in Europe where France won the 1998 World Cup. Evil creatures have taken over the Stade de France to scare visitors (and hand out bonbons)! Activities include make-up stands, badge-making workshops and magic shows. Spooky fancy dress is strongly advised!
Tickets from €12.50, www.stadefrance.com/fr/billetterie/pass-visites-halloween-2015
L’institut Franco-Américain in Rennes has two events for Halloween: a Lovecraft (an American horror writer) themed evening and the second, a children’s arts and crafts afternoon on 4th November. On 31st October, the party starts at 6:30pm with ‘Warm up à l’Institut’ and will later move on to local bar L’Heure du Jeu for more fun. Not only will there be a costume competition, but also a murder mystery game, scary film screenings, themed nibbles and lots more. Kids can celebrate Halloween at the l’institut Franco-Américain with readings of scary stories in English, a costume competition, a make-up stand, arts and crafts stations for Jack-O-Lanterns, drawing and colouring-in.
Tickets from €5, www.ifa-rennes.org/
The slow dripping of water, the omnipresent cool breeze ruffling your hair, the smell of the musty air, the constant darkness… The caves of la Grotte de Lastournelle are the perfect recipe for a frightening afternoon. Vampires, ghosts, witches and wizards will be welcome to the caves from 28th October to 1st November and for one day only on 11th November (a bank holiday in France) from 2:30pm until 4:30pm. A witch will be offering drinks to those in fancy dress and leading the tour of the caves with scary stories, jokes and magic potion…
Tickets from €6, www.grotte-de-lastournelle.fr/
You may have thought that Brittany, with its links to Celtic culture would have been a more likely candidate to be the home of Halloween in France, but Alsace actually has more of a history celebrating the event. The Halloween celebrations in the town of Mutzig get bigger every year, this year the event is entitled “des 6 Trouilles du Château des Rohan” (the six horrors of the Château des Rohan – French speakers will get the pumpkin pun). The programme includes scary storytelling, Halloween face-painting stands, creepy board games, Halloween film screenings, frightening arts and crafts all followed by a Halloween parade. Big and little monsters alike will meet in front of the château and walk along to the centre of town and back. Shopkeepers will be giving out sweets along the route and monsters can try the ‘scary soup’ hot chocolate at the the château at the end of the route. Finally, for monsters who are up late, 2 films will be screed at the town’s cinema from 9:30pm.
Free entry, though fees may apply for some activities, www.villedemutzig.fr/cgi-local/detail_manifestation.pl?ID=229
Now the clocks have turned back and the days are short, the ‘Festival des betteraves grimaçantes’ at the Château Saint Sixte in Freistroff is the perfect place to celebrate the transition between the seasons. Instead of carved pumpkins, the Lorraine region celebrates Halloween with ‘Les Rommelbootzen’, or carved beetroots! Starting at 4pm and running until 8:30pm on 31st October, you can expect to try magic potions, hear scary stories, make your own ‘Rommelbootzen’ and decorate them, release Chinese lanterns, play scary games in the woods, try a witch’s stew and go to a wizarding ball!
Tickets: €5 for adults and €10 for children, www.chateau-freistroff.com
If you thought the French Riviera was far from terrifying, you thought wrong. A visit to the Musée d’Art Classique in Mougins on Halloween is only for the brave! The 3000-year-old caretaker will take you on a night time visit in the dark, the only light you will see will be from torches. It will be a night you will never forget, filled with horror stories that will keep you awake all night. You can take consolation in the fact that sweets will be provided throughout the visit!
Tickets: €7, www.mouginsmusee.com/fr/2014/10/halloween-au-macm
Happy Halloween! Do let us know if there are any equally spooky Halloween events going-on in France near you!