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Best Summer Festivals in France 2013

Thursday 04 July 2013

Our choice of the best summer festivals throughout France this year to suit all ages, tastes and budgets.

Southern France

  • Aude, Carcassonne: Festival de Carcassonne, 19th June to 4th August - One of the biggest annual cultural events in France, with over 100 performances, many of which are free or with reduced rates for certain groups of persons. Very eclectic range, with opera, dance, circus, theatre, classical and modern music. Artists include Artic Monkeys, The Smashing Pumpkins, George Clinton, Patti Smith, Elton John, Mark Knopfler, Patrick Bruel, Jane Birkin, Ky-Mani Marley, 1995, Mozart's The Magic Flute, Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Béjart Ballet Lausanne, amongst many other acts and performances.
  • Vaucluse, Avignon: Festival d’Avignon, 5th to 26th July - Another huge multi-arts celebration, one of the world’s greatest festivals and the oldest in France. Organised in two parts: 'In' is performed at the new venue La FabricA, and 'Off' is performed in theatres, schools, streets and other venues around the town. Movies, art exhibitions, concerts are on offer, with a range of artists with whom Anglophones will be less familiar.
  • Pyrénées Atlantiques, Biarritz: Big Festival, 17th to 21st July - The 5th year of the Biarritz International Groove Festival, with the main events in the Stade Aguilera. Artists include Neil Young, Jonathan Wilson, John Berkhout, Gary Clark Jnr, The Bloody Beetroots, George Clinton, and The Dedicated Nothing.
  • Bouches-du-Rhône, Aix-en-Provence: Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, 4th to 27th July - A prestigious classical festival for opera and classical music fans that has been taking place since 1948. Programme includes: Rigoletto, Don Giovanni, Elena, Romeo and Juliet and London Symphony Orchestra.
  • Bouches-du-Rhône, Istres: Les Nuits d’Istres, 2nd to 9th July - Taking place in the fabulous 16th Century Pavillon de Grignan, a smaller programme this year, with artists from world music, hip-hop and pop. Programme includes Mika, Salif Keita and IAM.
  • Alpes Maritimes, Vence: Les Nuits du Sud, 12th July to 10th August - The programme of this 16th edition is another strong eclectic line-up, with artists coming from all around the world: Taj Mahal, Pattie Smith, Groundation, Nile Rodgers, Salif, Keita, LA 33, and many more.
  • Vaucluse, Orange: Chorégies d’Orange, 11th July to 6th August -This classical music festival dates from 1860 and is the oldest festival in France. Takes place in the breath-taking and authentic Roman Theatre, one of the most beautiful historic monuments in France. Music of composers Richard Wagner, Giuseppe Verdi and Mozart.
  • Var, Toulon: Jazz à Toulon, 18th July to 9th August - A programme of 20 free concerts throughout the whole city, taking place every night in a different place. Artists include Milevska trio, Robert Clay, Manu Katché, and Les Voice Messangers.
  • Alpes Maritimes, Nice: Nice Jazz Festival, 8th to 12th July - This 5 day event offers open-air concerts and you can wander from one concert to the next one while enjoying beautiful surroundings. Headline artists such as George Benson, C2C, Maceo Parker, Earth Wind and Fire, Ben Harper and Charlie Musslewhite.
  • Gers, Vic-Fezensac: Festival Tempo Latino, 26th to 29th July - The benchmark festival in France and Europe for all salsa music lovers celebrates its 20th anniversary. The whole village comes alive with the wild rhythms of salsa, flamenco, and afro-cuban music. Fabulous open air concert venue. Artists this year include Yuri Buenaventura, Ricardo Lemvo, LA 33 and Orlando Valle. Unmissable for fans.
  • Aquitaine, Bayonne: Fêtes de Bayonne, 24th to 28th July - Five non-stop days of fiesta in the Basque city of Bayonne. Over a million participants come each year to enjoy traditional Basque food and music, to see the bulls running through the streets and other spectacles. Events for all ages and tastes. Wild stuff!
  • Charente, Cognac: Cognac Blues Passions, 7th to 13th July - The 20th year of this festival of Afro-American music, which takes place in the public park, in the heart of the town. R&B, gospel, blues, jazz, soul-funk. This year artists include Ben Harper, Sinead O'Connor, Beth Hart, Wyclef Jean, The Hives, Syl and Jimmy Johnson, and many others.
  • Gers, Marciac: Jazz in Marciac, 26th July to 16th August - Arguably now the best jazz festival in Europe. Takes place under the ‘Chapiteau’ in the charming village of Marciac in Gascony. An incredible line-up of artists, who include Robert Cray, George Benson, Diana Krall, Wynton Marsalis, Gilberto Gil, Roberto Fonseca, Benny Green Trio, Paco de Lucia, Taj Mahal, Maceo Parker, Joe Cocker, and many others. Free open air 'off' concerts every day on the main square.
  • Gironde, Paulliac: Reggae Sun Ska Festival, 2nd to 4th August - The largest reggae festival in France on the banks of the Gironde. Around 60 bands from all corners of the globe.
  • Lot, Cahors: Blues Festival, 14th to 20th July - Around now for over 20 years, it has attracted the biggest names in blues music. Music all over the town. This year artists include Dana Fuchs, Shemekia Copeland, Neil Black and Manu Lanvin, The Original Blues Brothers Band.

Northern France

  • Pas-de-Calais, Arras: Arras Main Square Festival, 5th to 7th July - This major rock, pop, soul and hip-hop musical event takes place on the Citadel (UNESCO listed) and receives many big international bands. This year: The Prodigy, The Hives, Sting, Green Day, Stereophonics, amongst many others.
  • Champagne-Ardenne, Reims: Les Flâneries Musicales, 20th June to 12th July - Around 100 concerts by great artists of classical music and jazz who will light up Reims’s summer. Free for the most part, these concerts will take place at prestigious or unusual sites, such as the stunning Saint-Remi Basilica and the city parks.
  • Paris, Hippodrome de Longchamp: Solidays, 28th to 30th June - Over three days the festival brings together 80 concerts on the stage of the Longchamp Racecourse to fight against AIDS. A huge event with both French and international artists.
  • Picardy, Septmonts (Soissons): Festival Pic’Arts, 5th and 6th July - Since 1998 the village of Septmonts hosts the 'Festival Pic’Arts' in its castle’s courtyard and offers an eclectic programme of ska, rock, reggae and pop from mainly Francophone artists.
  • Normandy: Promenades Musicales du Pays d’Auge, 14th July to 19th August - A variety of 16 concerts featuring dance, theatre and poetry held in locations from chateaux, churches and chapels to workshops, parks and gardens. Wide choice and original series of performances.
  • Paris, Domaine de Saint-Cloud: Rock en Seine, 23rd to 25th August - One of the most renowned French festivals. This Rock’n Roll event lasts 3 days attracting around 20,000 fans, and is held in Saint-Cloud’s park. The line-up includes EELS, Franz Ferdinand, ALT J, Paul Kalkbrenner, Kendrick Lamar, Tricky, ...

Western France

  • Poitou-Charentes, Vienne: Jazz à Vienne, 28th June to 13th July - This major festival takes place in a wonderful Roman amphitheatre, as well as other venues. Amongst the array of artists will be Marcus Miller, Ahmad Jamal, Yuseff Lateef, Robert Gray, Kassav, Keziah Jones, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and The Temptations Review.
  • Brittany, Carhaix: Festival des Vieilles Charues, 18th to 21st July - The largest rock and pop music festival in France and one of the biggest in Europe, attracting around 200,000 festival goers each year. The four day event offers a choice of music styles for the (mainly) younger audience. Artists include: The Hives, Phoenix, Carlos Santana, Elton John, Neil Young, ALT J, Jonathan Wilson, Rammstein, The Roots, and many, many more!
  • Brittany, Belle-Ile-en-Mer: Lyrique-en-Mer, 19th July to 16th August - A lovely setting for a range of terrific operas and concerts. This year there are performances of Bizet's Carmen, Rossini's Barbier of Seville and Haendel's Messiah.
  • Pays de La Loire, Saint Nazaire: Festival Les Escales, 2nd and 3rd August - One of the most important festivals of World Music in France for the past 20 years. Artists this year include Earth Wind and Fire Experience, Oxmo Puccinno, Asaf Avidan, Steel Pulse, Roberto Fonseca, Goran Bregovic and more....
  • Poitou-Charentes, Confolens: Festival de Confolens, 13th to 18th August - The 56th year of the ‘Art et Traditions Populaires du Monde’ (Folklore) event attracts each year over 100,000 visitors and calls or dance and music lovers to come and discover new cultures through the five continents.
  • Brittany, Lorient: Festival Interceltique de Lorient, 2nd to 11th August - This annual festival takes place in the heart of the Breton city, featuring Celtic traditional, classical and rock musicians, singers, dancers, as well as painters and sculptors. Very packed and varied programme of events. Artists include Sinead O'Connor and Imelda May.
  • Brittany, Saint-Malo: La Route du Rock, 14th to 17th August - The 23rd year of this festival in the stunning coastal city of Saint-Malo, either on the beach or Fort de Saint-Père Castle stages. Around 30 artists appearing, including Artists appearing including Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Tame Impala, Hot Chip, Local Natives, TNGHT, Efterklang, Woods, Moon Duo, Allah-Las, Jacco Gardner, Julia Holter, and Suuns.

Eastern France

  • Franche-Comte, Belfort: Eurockéennes de Belfort, 4th to 7th July - One of the France’s largest rock festivals with around 100,000 in attendance over the three days. In addition to the numerous famous artists who perform there, its popularity is also based on its location, on the beautiful natural environment of the Lake Malsaucy peninsula. The artists include Jamiroquai, The Smashing Pumpkins, Phoenix, Blur, and many others.
  • Rhône Alpes, Lyon: Les Nuits de Fourvières, 5th June to 31st July - Big and very varied festival running since 1946 on the Gallo-Roman site of Fourvière, which brings together theatre, dance, rock, jazz and classical music and circus. Over 60 performances with artists such as Crosby Stills and Nash, Diana Krall, Sinead O'Connor, Keith Jarrett, IAM, Rufus Wainwright and Madness.
  • Burgundy, Beaune: Festival International d’opéra baroque, 5th to 28th July - Created in 1982 and now the leading European Baroque festival, it offers sublime opera concerts in stunning 15th Century locations (Roman Basilica Notre-Dame and Beaune’s Hospices). This year the programme runs under the theme Passions, de la Magie et de l'Enchantement. Unmissable if you are a fan.
  • Rhône Alpes, Aix-Les-Bains: Musilac, 12th to 14th July - Over 3 days the event welcomes around 30 artists in two open air stages in a beautiful natural environment at the edge of the Geneva Lake. This year will be the 10th edition of this pop-rock festival which attracts over 70,000 fans every year. Artists include Jamiroquai, Phoenix, Juveniles, The Hives, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Blondie, The Klaxons, Jamie Cullen, and Beth Hart.
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