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Best Summer Festivals in France 2014

Tuesday 03 June 2014

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

Southern France

  • Bouches-du-Rhône, Aix-en-Provence: Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, 31st May to 24th July - A prestigious classical festival for opera and classical music fans that has been taking place since 1948. Programme includes: Mozart's Magic Flute, Rossini's Il Turco in Italie, Schubert's Wintereise, Orchestre de Paris, Freiburger Barockorchester.
  • Aude, Carcassonne: Festival de Carcassonne, 19th June to 2nd 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 Elton John, Lana Del Ray, Mike & The Mechanics, Franz Ferdinand, Massive Attack, Status Quo, James Blunt, Pink Martini, Mozart's Don Giovanni, amongst many other acts and performances.
  • Lot, Cahors: Malbec Days, 20th to 22nd June - Savour the malbec wines of Cahors over a fantastic three day period when the town centre is turned over to a celebration of the 'black wine'. Tastings, expert masterclasses, chateaux visits, dinners, concerts and just general all-round fun. Great value event in a glorious part of France.
  • Gironde, Bordeaux: Fête le Vin, 26th to 29th June - Arguably the largest wine festival in Europe, along a 2 kilometre wine route by the banks of the Gironde, with tasting pavilions showcasing wines and food from the region. A number of masterclasses and organised chateaux visits for those seeking a deeper understanding and better quality wines. Lots more beside the wine. Three nights of music featuring leading jazz and rock bands, such as Dee Dee Bridgewater, Earth Wind & Fire and Skip the Use. Great fireworks and sound and light show each night.
  • Charente, Cognac: Cognac Blues Passions, 30th June to 6th 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 Robert Plant, Lily Allen, George Benson, Jonny Lang, Taj Mahal, Steven Seagal, Kenny Wayne, and many others.
  • Vaucluse, Avignon: Festival d’Avignon, 4th to 27th 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 about whom Anglophones will be less familiar.
  • Alpes Maritimes, Vence: Les Nuits du Sud, 11th July to 9th August - The programme of this 17th edition is another eclectic line-up, with artists coming from all around the world: Garland Jeffreys, Irma, The Wailers, IAM, Pink Martini, Johnny Lang, and many more.
  • Vaucluse, Orange: Chorégies d’Orange, 9th July to 5th 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. Featuring Verdi's Otello and Nabucco.
  • 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 Patrice, Keziah Jones, Snarky Puppy, Metromony, Kenny Garret, Dr John, Gipsy Kings and Deep Purple!
  • Pyrénées Atlantiques, Biarritz: Big Festival, 16th to 20th July - The 6th year of the Biarritz International Groove Festival, with the main events in the Stade Aguilera. Artists include Fauve, Irma, Garland Jeffreys, Kerri Chandler, Willis Drumond, Flight Facilities.
  • Lot, Cahors: Blues Festival,14th to 19th 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 Eric Burdon, Jonny Lang, Johnny Winter, and Otis Taylor.
  • Var, Toulon: Jazz à Toulon, 18th July to 8th August - The 25th anniversary of this festival. A programme of many free concerts throughout the whole city, taking place every night in a different place.
  • Gers, Vic-Fezensac: Festival Tempo Latino, 24th to 27th 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 Tipica 73, Kassav, and Africando. 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!
  • Gers, Marciac: Jazz in Marciac, 28th July to 17th 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 Jeff Beck, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Didier Lockwood, Kenny Garrett, Robert Fonseca, Amad Jamal, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jamie Cullen, Gregory Porter, and many others. Free open air 'off' concerts every day on the main square.
  • Gironde, Bordeaux: Reggae Sun Ska Festival, 31st July to 3rd August - The largest reggae festival in France takes place on new venue at the University Campus of Pessac - Talence - Gradignan. Around 80 bands from all corners of the globe, including Shaggy,The Skatalites and Madness.

Northern France

  • Pas-de-Calais, Arras: Arras Main Square Festival, 3rd to 6th July - This major rock and pop festival takes place on the Citadel (UNESCO listed) and receives many big international bands. This year bands include Iron Maiden, Franz Ferdinand, The Black Keys, Triggerfinger, Stromea, Alice in Chains, 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, 27th to 29th 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, 27th and 28th 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 18th 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, 22nd to 24th 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 Artic Monkeys, Blondie, Jake Bugg, The Prodigy, Portishead, Queens of the Stone Age, Lana de Rey, Tinariwen and many others.

Western France

  • Brittany, Carhaix: Festival des Vieilles Charues, 17th to 20th 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: Arctic Monkeys, Lily Allen, Skaka Ponk, Elton John, The Black Keys, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Franz Ferdinand and many, many more!
  • Brittany, Belle-Ile-en-Mer: Lyrique-en-Mer, 28th July to 15th August - A lovely setting for a range of terrific operas and concerts including music of Puccini, Haydn.
  • 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 Bobby Womack, Bootsy Collins, Keziah Jones, Winston Macanuff, Tinariwen and more....
  • Poitou-Charentes, Confolens: Festival de Confolens, 12th to 17th August - The 57th 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, 1st to 10th 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 24rd 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, 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 artists include Pixies, The Black Keys, Jamiroquai, Skrillex, Franz Ferdinand, Robert Plant, Fauve, and many others.
  • Rhône Alpes, Lyon: Les Nuits de Fourvières, 3rd June to 30th 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 many leading international artists.
  • Burgundy, Beaune: Festival International d’opéra baroque, 4th to 27th 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, 11th 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 11th edition of this pop-rock festival which attracts over 70,000 fans every year. Artists include Motorhead, Seasick Steve, Maceo Parker, Kaiser Chiefs, and Tinariwen.
  • Rhône Alpes, Vienne: Jazz à Vienne, 27th June to 12th July - This major festival takes place in a wonderful Roman amphitheatre, as well as other venues. Amongst the array of artists will be Jamie Cullen, Gregory Porter, Robert Plant, The Commodors, Kool & the Gang, Quincy Jones, and Jeff Beck
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