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Best Summer Festivals in France 2016

Tuesday 07 June 2016

Our choice of the best summer festivals throughout France in 2016 to suit all ages, tastes and budgets.

Southern France

  • Bouches-du-Rhône, Aix-en-Provence: Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, 30th June to 20th July - A prestigious classical festival for opera and classical music fans that has been taking place since 1948. Programme includes: Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte, Handel's Triumph of Time and Truth, Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex, as well as a range of concerts.
  • Aude, Carcassonne: Festival de Carcassonne, 4th 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 Pharell Williams, Foals, The Avener, Marianne Faithfull, Indochine, Scorpions, amongst many other acts and performances.
  • Charente, Cognac: Cognac Blues Passions, 5th to 9th July - The 23rd 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 Iggy Pop, The Cranberries, Marianne Faithfull, Fadda Freddy, Sean Taylor Band, Roy Roberts, and many others.
  • Vaucluse, Avignon: Festival d’Avignon, 6th to 24th 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, gardens, 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.
  • Alpes Maritimes, Vence: Les Nuits du Sud, 7th July to 23rd July - The programme of this 19th edition is another eclectic line-up, with a festival of artists coming from all around the world. They include Cock Robin, ZAZ, Massilila Sound System, Imany, The Christians, and Fadda Freddy.
  • Gers, Vic-Fezensac: Festival Tempo Latino, 28th to 31st 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 Spanish Harlem Orchestra, African Salsa Orchestra, Group Fantasma, Palo and Bixiga 70.
  • Vaucluse, Orange: Chorégies d’Orange, 9th 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. Programme includes La Traviata, Verdi Requiem, Madame Butterfly, and a Bernstein/Gershwin Concert.
  • Alpes Maritimes, Nice: Nice Jazz Festival, 16th to 20th 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 Robert Plant, Melody Gardot, George Clinton, Massive Attack, Steps Ahead and Ibrahim Mallouf.
  • Pyrénées Atlantiques, Biarritz: Big Festival, 9th to 17th July - The 8th year of the festival, with the main events in the Stade Aguilera. Artists include: The Libertines, The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Pharell Williams, and The Kills.
  • Lot, Cahors: Blues Festival, 12th to 16th July - Around now since 1982, it has attracted the biggest names in blues music. Music all over the town. This year artists include Taj Mahal, Shakura S'Aida, Eric Bibb, James Brown Band.
  • 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, 27th to 31st 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!
  • Gers, Marciac: Jazz in Marciac, 29th July to 15th August - Arguably the best jazz festival in Europe. Takes place under the ‘Chapiteau’ in the charming village of Marciac in Gascony. A staggering line-up of artists, who include Diana Krall, Maceo Parker, Jamie Cullum, Ahmad Jamel, Lisa Simone, John McLaughlin, Kyle Eastwood, and many others. Free open air 'off' concerts every day on the main square.
  • Gironde, Bordeaux: Reggae Sun Ska Festival, 5th to 7th 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.

Northern France

  • Pas-de-Calais, Arras: Arras Main Square Festival, 1st to 3rd July - This major rock and pop festival takes place on the Citadel (UNESCO listed) and receives many big international bands. This year bands include Ellie Goulding, Jake Bugg, Iggy Pop, The Offspring, and Editors, amongst numerous others.
  • Champagne-Ardenne, Reims: Les Flâneries Musicales 23rd 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, 24th to 26th June - Over three days the festival brings together around 80 bands and solo artists for a younger audience 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, 24th to 25th 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, 2nd July to 4th August - A variety of over 20 concerts featuring dance, theatre and poetry held in chateaux, churches, chapels, parks and gardens. Wide choice and original series of performances.
  • Paris, Domaine de Saint-Cloud: Rock en Seine, 26th to 28th 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 Massive Attack, Iggy Pop, Foals, Editors, Gregory Porter, Last Shadow Puppets, and a host of others.

Western France

  • Brittany, Carhaix: Festival des Vieilles Charues, 14th to 17th 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 Lana de Rey, The Libertines, The Kills, Jake Bugg, Editors, The Avener, and Pharell Williams.
  • Brittany, Belle-Ile-en-Mer: Lyrique-en-Mer, 28th July to 19th August - A lovely setting for a range of operas and classical concerts.
  • Pays de La Loire, Saint Nazaire: Festival Les Escales, 29th to 31st July - One of the most important festivals of World Music in France, with around 30 concerts over the two days. Highlights include Iggy Pop, Selah Sue, Breakbot, Caravan Palace, Ibeyi, Fadda Freddy, and Group Fantasma.
  • Poitou-Charentes, Confolens: Festival de Confolens, 10th to 15th August - The 59th year of the ‘Art et Traditions Populaires du Monde’ (Folklore) event attracts each year over 100,000 visitors, to enjoy and discover traditional dance and music from the five continents.
  • Brittany, Lorient: Festival Interceltique de Lorient, 4th to 14th 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, 11th to 14th August - The 26th year 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, 1st to 3rd 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.
  • Rhône Alpes, Lyon: Les Nuits de Fourvières, 1st June to 30th 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 and bands, including Radiohead, PJ Harvey and Didier Lockwood.
  • Burgundy, Beaune: Festival International d’opéra baroque, 8th to 31st 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, 8th to 10th July - Over 3 days the event welcomes around 30 artists in two open air stages in a beautiful natural environment at the edge of Lake Bourget. Pop-rock festival that attracts over 70,000 fans every year. Elton John, Editors, Foals and many more.
  • Rhône Alpes, Vienne: Jazz à Vienne, 28th June to 15th July - This major festival takes place in a wonderful Roman amphitheatre, as well as other venues. Amongst the array of artists will be Nile Rogers, Buddy Guy, Ibrahim Maalouf, Tonya Baker, Lisa Simone, John McLauglin, Diana Krall, Faada Freddy, and Seal.
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