Captivating Summer Music Festivals in France
Issue 2 / 04 May 2018
Captivating Summer Music Festivals in France

Enjoy the incomparable atmosphere of exquisite musical performances with ancient amphitheatres and tree-lined promenades as a backdrop

Jackie Slaughter

Time your holiday to the south of France this year to tie in with one or more of France’s finest music festivals. From opera in ancient amphitheatres to modern jazz on the seafront, join the festive atmosphere and hear outstanding performances. Once you have exhausted all the musical possibilities, there is always exceptional architecture and art, wonderful cuisine, designer shopping and a vibrant nightlife to consider.

Where do you recommend for Jazz fans?

Jazz à Juan is a seaside festival with all the biggest names in Jazz, taking place in July every year at the Gould Pine Grove in Juan-les-Pins. As the oldest jazz festival in Europe, Jazz in Juan remains an amazing melting pot where different trends all blend together. Many performers have trodden the boards of the stage in the mythical pine grove since its creation in 1960. The festival has established itself as one of the legendary places where jazz history was made and is eternally renewed through young prodigies like Marcus Miller, Wynton Marsalis, Salif Keita, Diana Krall, James Carter and Joshua Redman. 2003 saw the first "Jazz à Juan Révélations", an evening whose main purpose is to celebrate and encourage the movers and shakers of the jazz world, so that now more than ever, the tradition is kept alive while remaining modern. Many artists have come to share their passion during these meetings, which have subsequently enabled them to establish themselves on the international jazz scene. Dates for 2018 are 12-22 July and performers this year will include Lenny Kravitz, Norah Jones and Carla Bruni.

What if we prefer music of a more classical flavour?

Every summer since 1948, the International Festival of Lyric Art has taken place in Aix-en-Provence. Operas, classical music concerts and other performances are organised on several sites, including the Théâtre de l’Archevêché, Grand Théâtre de Provence, Théâtre du Jeu de Paume and Hôtel Maynier d'Oppède. With its staircase of honour, medieval vaults and 17th-century wings, enclosing an almost perfectly square space, the Courtyard of the Archbishop’s Palace is the emblematic site of this festival. Over 70,000 spectators come to enjoy performances here every year. The festival is increasingly open to a younger audience, with special activities for children which have proven very popular. For 2018, the festival will take place from 4th to 24th July and performances will include Dido & Aeneas, The Magic Flute and others.

Every summer, the Chorégies in Orange offer popular operas, classical music concerts and other lyric art performances. The festival started in 1869 and is today the oldest festival in France. Over the years, they have kept their sense of originality: in their name, derived from the Greek “choreos" and connecting them to the Greco-Latin tradition; and the place where they are held each year: the perfectly preserved Théâtre Antique, which has capacity for almost 9,000 people. This theatre is fortunate to have kept its stage wall, which stands 37 metres tall, and guarantees exceptional acoustics; and the lyrical and musical direction they have chosen to follow, which makes them the top French festival and gives them an incontestable international reputation. In 2018, the festival will take place from 20th June to 4th August, with the main operatic performances between 5th July and 4th August, including the Barber of Seville and Mefistofele.

Anywhere else we should visit?

The monumental Carrières de Lumières in Les Baux de Provence, in the heart of Alpilles is a beautifully-adapted, former quarry which hosts extraordinary art-based multimedia shows, projecting images of famous paintings set to music. Visitors are completely immersed in the images projected onto every rock surface, including the ground, which becomes a vast carpet of images. This is a truly unique and unforgettable experience.

Where should we stay?

Villa du Parc A beautiful classic villa built in 1925 and recently renovated to a high standard. A family-friendly villa sleeping up to 12, the house is set in mature, private gardens in a peaceful location 10 minutes walk from the beaches of Cap d’Antibes and five minutes walk from the centre with its shops and restaurants. Juan-les-Pins is less than 15 minutes’ drive. Situated on the hillside of Super Cannes on a quiet residential street. Villa Panoramique A spacious four-bedroom villa with 290m2 of living space and a spectacular panoramic view of Juan les Pins and Cap d’Antibes. The nearest beach is only a five minute drive away whilst the centre of Cannes can be reached in ten minutes. Juan-les-Pins is about a 20-minute drive. Villa Grenache A rustic yet thoroughly luxurious stone-built house situated on the estate of the Domaine de Marie vineyard near to the village of Menèrbes in Provence. The area around Menèrbes was the inspiration for the famous novel “a Year in Provence” and the film “A Good Year” starring Russell Crowe was filmed nearby. The 5-bedroom villa sleeps 10 and there is a beautiful, mature garden with sunny terraces, quiet shady corners and a heated swimming pool with sun loungers to relax on. Aix-en-Provence, Orange and Les-Baux-de-Provence are all about an hour away by car.

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