Our choice of the best summer music festivals throughout France in this year to suit all ages, tastes and budgets.
Bouches-du-Rhône, Aix-en-Provence: Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, 3rd to 22nd July- A prestigious classical festival for opera and classical music fans that has been taking place since 1948. Programme includes Handel, Rossini, Mozart, and Bach.
Aude, Carcassonne: Festival de Carcassonne, 28th June to 29th July - 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 (Tosca), dance, cinema, circus, theatre, classical and modern music. A mainly Francophone line-up, but also Christine and the Queens, Joan Baez, Sting and Liam Gallagher, Black Eyed Peas, amongst many other acts and performances.
Gard, Nimes: Festival de Nimes, 23rd June to 20th July - Taking place in the UNESCO classed Roman amphitheatre a programme that leads off with Elton John. Among other artists are Status Quo, Nick Mason, Mark Knoffler, Tears for Fears/UB40, ZZ Top and a diverse range of other artists.
Charente, Cognac: Cognac Blues Passions, 4th to 8th July - The 26th 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. Around 90 concerts, which this year include Thomas Dutronic, Rickie Lee Jones, Garbage and many others.
Vaucluse, Avignon: Festival d’Avignon, 4th to 23rd 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, 19th July to 3rd Aug - The programme of this 21st edition is another eclectic line-up, with a festival of artists coming from all around the world. They include Gilberto Gil, Lucky Peterson, Sister Sledge, and Yuri Buenaventura.
Gers, Vic-Fezensac: Festival Tempo Latino, 26th to 29th 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 BIGRE ! KASSAV, Orquesta Akokan, Antibalas, Cimafunk and Havana D'Primera.
Vaucluse, Orange: Chorégies d’Orange, 19th June 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.
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 Black Eyed Peas, Nile Rogers, Ibrahim Maalouf, and The Blaze.
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 Jessie Lee, Will Barber, Malted Milk Soul Orchestra, Chris Bergson, Curtis Salago, and Don Bryant.
Var, Toulon: Jazz à Toulon, 20th to 29th July - A programme of many free concerts throughout the whole city, taking place every night in a different place.
Aquitaine, Bayonne: Fêtes de Bayonne, 25th to 29th July - Five non-stop days of fiesta in the Basque city of Bayonne. Around 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. This year the council have imposed a modest charge for entry to support additional security measures. Wild stuff!
Gers, Marciac: Jazz in Marciac, 25th 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 Sting, George Porter and Jamie Cullen. Free open air 'off' concerts every day on the main square.
Gironde, Bordeaux: Reggae Sun Ska Festival, 2nd to 4th 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.
Pas-de-Calais, Arras: Main Square Festival, 5th to 7th July - This major rock and pop festival takes place on the Citadel (UNESCO listed) and receives many big international bands. This year bands include Ben Harper, Bigflo and Oli, Caravan Palace, Christine and the Queens, DJ Snake, Editors, amongst many others.
Champagne-Ardenne, Reims: Les Flâneries Musicales 19th June to 11th 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, 21st to 23rd 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, 28th to 29th 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, 18th July to 12th August - The 25th anniversary year. A variety of classical 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, 23rd to 25th August - One of the most renowned French festivals. This Rock’n Roll event lasts 3 days attracting around 20,000 fans to Saint-Cloud park. The line-up includes The Cure, Major Lazer, Aphex Twin, and Foals.
Brittany, Carhaix: Festival des Vieilles Charues, 18th to 22nd 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. Artists include Tears for Fears, Razorlight, Primal Scream, Nile Rogers, Iggy Pop, Christine and the Queens, and many more.
Brittany, Belle-Ile-en-Mer: Lyrique-en-Mer, 30th July to 16th August - A lovely setting for a range of operas and classical concerts.
Pays de La Loire, Saint Nazaire: Festival Les Escales, 26th to 28th July - One of the most important festivals of World Music in France with around 30 concerts over the two days.
Poitou-Charentes, Confolens: Festival de Confolens, 12th to 18th August - 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, 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.
Brittany, Saint-Malo: La Route du Rock, 14th to 17th August - The 29th year of this festival in the stunning coastal city of Saint-Malo, either on the beach or Fort de Saint-Père Castle stages.
Deux-Sèvres, Cauney: Mad Hatter's Wonderland Festival, 16th to 18th August - A festival run by British expatriates in the grounds of their property. Now in its 9th year. Fun, food and activities for the whole family.
Franche-Comte, Belfort: Eurockéennes de Belfort, 4th to 7th July - One of the France’s largest rock festivals with around 60 concerts and 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 Lac Malsaucy peninsula.
Rhône Alpes, Lyon: Les Nuits de Fourvières, 1st June to 27th July - Huge and very varied festival, which has been around each year since 1946 on the Gallo-Roman site of Fourvière. Brings together theatre, dance, rock, jazz and classical music and circus. Over 60 performances with many leading international artists and bands, including Arctic Monkeys, Texas and Massive Attack.
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). Unmissable for aficionados.
Rhône Alpes, Aix-Les-Bains: Musilac, 11th 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 Lake Bourget. Pop-rock festival that attracts over 70,000 fans every year. Sting, Jamiroquai, Texas, The Lumineers, LP and many more.
Rhône Alpes, Vienne: Jazz à Vienne, 28th June to 13th July - This major festival takes place in a wonderful Roman amphitheatre, as well as other venues.