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Best Summer Festivals in France 2015

Tuesday 02 June 2015

Our choice of the best summer festivals throughout France in 2015 to suit all ages, tastes and budgets.

Southern France

  • Bouches-du-Rhône, Aix-en-Provence: Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, 9th June to 21st July - A prestigious classical festival for opera and classical music fans that has been taking place since 1948. Programme includes: Britten's A Midsomer Night's Dream, Tchaikovsky's Iolanta, Mozart's Il Seraglio, London Symphony Orchestra.
  • Aude, Carcassonne: Festival de Carcassonne, 6th July to 1st 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 this year include Julio Iglesias, Sting, Johnny Hallyday, Moriarty, Sanseverino, Patrick Bruel, Lang Lang, amongst many other acts and performances.
  • Charente, Cognac: Cognac Blues Passions, 30th June to 4th July - The 22th 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 Lenny Kravitz, Asaf Avidan, Selah Sue, Cats on Tree, Charlie Winston and Angus & Juli Stone, and many others.
  • Vaucluse, Avignon: Festival d’Avignon, 4th to 25th July - A 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 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 about whom Anglophones will be less familiar.
  • Alpes Maritimes, Vence: Les Nuits du Sud, 9th July to 25th July - The programme of this 17th edition is another eclectic line-up, with artists coming from all around the world: Jimmy Cliff, Milky Chance, Maceo Parker, Charlie Winston, Joan Baez, Yuri Buenaventura, and many more.
  • Gers, Vic-Fezensac: Festival Tempo Latino, 23rd to 26th July - The benchmark festival in France and Europe for all salsa music lovers. 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 Ernesto Tito Puentes, Ibrahim Maalouf, Raul Paz, Manu Dibango, and Cuban Beats All Stars. Unmissable for fans. Programme and Tickets.
  • Vaucluse, Orange: Chorégies d’Orange, 9th July to 4th 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. Programme includes Bizet's Carmen and Verdi's Il Trovadore.
  • Alpes Maritimes, Nice: Nice Jazz Festival, 7th to 12th July - The event offers open-air concerts and you can wander from one concert to the next one while enjoying beautiful surroundings. Headline artists such as Jamie Cullum, Caravan Palace, Charles Lloyd, Kool & The Gang, Roberto Fonseca and The Roots.
  • Pyrénées Atlantiques, Biarritz: Big Festival, 11th to 19th July - The 7th year of the Biarritz International Groove Festival, with the main events in the Stade Aguilera. Artists include Johnny Halladay (!), Selah Sue, George Ezra, Louis Matthieu Joseph & Anna, Chedid.
  • Lot, Cahors: Blues Festival, 14th to 18th 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 LiL' ED, Ruthie Foster, Shawn Holt, Ava Popovic, Charles Pasi, The Campbell Brothers.
  • Var, Toulon: Jazz à Toulon, 16th July to 26th July - A programme of many free concerts throughout the whole city, taking place every night in a different place.
  • Aquitaine, Bayonne: Fêtes de Bayonne, 29th to 2nd Aug - 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!
  • Gers, Marciac: Jazz in Marciac, 27th 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 terrific line-up of artists, who include Kenny Garrett, Chick Corea, Lisa Simone, Roberto Fonseca, Dr John, Robin Mckelle, Sarah Mckenzie, and many others. Free open air 'off' concerts every day on the main square.
  • Gironde, Bordeaux: Reggae Sun Ska Festival, 7th to 9th August - The largest reggae festival in France takes place at the University Campus of Pessac - Talence - Gradignan, Bordeaux. Around 80 bands from all corners of the globe, but whose names mean nothing to us so we will refrain from listing them.

Northern France

  • Pas-de-Calais, Arras: Arras Main Square Festival, 3rd to 5th July - This major rock and pop festival takes place on the Citadel (UNESCO listed) and receives many big international bands. This year bands include Muse, Sam Smith, Lenny Kravitz, George Ezra, Mumford & Sons, and Pharrell Williams, amongst numerous others.
  • Champagne-Ardenne, Reims: Les Flâneries Musicales, 18th June to 10th 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, 26th to 28th June - Over three days the festival brings together 80 bands and solo artists for younger audiences 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, 26th and 27th June - Since 1998 the village of Septmonts hosts the 'Festival Pic’Arts' in the castle courtyard and offers an eclectic programme of ska, rock, reggae and pop from mainly Francophone artists.
  • Normandy: Promenades Musicales du Pays d’Auge, 12th July to 14th August - A variety of over 20 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, 28th to 30th 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 Franz Ferdinand and Sparks, The OffSpring, The Libertines, The Chemical Brothers, and a host of others.

Western France

  • Brittany, Carhaix: Festival des Vieilles Charues, 16th to 19th 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 Muse, The Chemical Brothers, Tom Jones, Caravan Palace, The Prodigy, The Strypes, Lionel Richie, Joan Baez, and many, many more!
  • Brittany, Belle-Ile-en-Mer: Lyrique-en-Mer, 31st July to 10th August - A lovely setting for a range of operas and classical concerts.
  • Pays de La Loire, Saint Nazaire: Festival Les Escales, 7th and 8th August - One of the most important festivals of World Music in France, on a reduced scale this year but still with around 30 concerts over the two days. Highlights include Groundation, Pascuala Ilabaca, Dhafer Youssef, Les Ambassadeurs, Malted Milk, and Vaudou Game.
  • Poitou-Charentes, Confolens: Festival de Confolens, 11th to 16th August - The 58th 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, 7th to 16th 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.
  • Brittany, Saint-Malo: La Route du Rock, 13th to 16th August - The 25th anniversary of this festival in the stunning coastal city of Saint-Malo, either on the beach or Fort de Saint-Père Castle stages.

Eastern France

  • Franche-Comte, Belfort: Eurockéennes de Belfort, 4th to 6th 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 61 bands and solo artists include The Chemical Brothers, Sting, Ben Harper, Major Lazer, Alabama Shakes, and James Blake.
  • Rhône Alpes, Lyon: Les Nuits de Fourvières, 5th June to 31st July - Huge 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 many leading international artists including Robert Plant, Patti Smith, Bjork, Iggy Pop and Ben Harper.
  • Burgundy, Beaune: Festival International d’opéra baroque, 3rd to 25th 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). Unmissable if you are a fan.
  • Rhône Alpes, Aix-Les-Bains: Musilac, 10th to 13th 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 12th edition of this pop-rock festival which attracts over 70,000 fans every year.
  • Rhône Alpes, Vienne: Jazz à Vienne, 27th June to 11th July - This major festival takes place in a wonderful Roman amphitheatre, as well as other venues. Amongst the array of artists will be Dee Dee Bridgewater, George Benson, Sting, Didier Lockwood Trio and Maceo Parker.
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