Most Popular Festivals
France is one of the most regionally diverse holiday destinations in Europe, from dazzling mountaintops to vineyards that stretch as far as its meandering rivers, and of course its world-famous Mediterranean coast. It’s no surprise, then, that it brings with it an equally vibrant mix of music festivals.
Paris is the European hub for two major Chicago festivals, Pitchfork Music Festival and – along with Berlin – Lollapalooza, which shows the capital’s musical importance internationally. Both continue to bring intriguing and eclectic lineups, but the city doesn’t rely on satellite festivals to prove its musical worth. Since its birth in 2003 Rock En Seine quickly played its part to put France on the international festival map, and Main Square Festival in Arras, a few hours north of the capital, is closely following in its example. For jazz, soul, hip hop, reggae, Afrobeats and more head to AFROPUNK FEST Paris in northeastern tip of the capital. We Love Green is a multi-genre music festival, taking place in Bois de Vincennes in eastern Paris, mixing an eco-friendly ethos with artists like Tame Impala, Björk and Foals. Rituel Days, organised by Ritual Recordings, plays host to some of underground electronic music’s top talent.
In 2018 Paris also celebrated 20 years of Solidays Festival, a testament to the strength its popularity and partnership with AIDS charity Solidarité Sida. Running for just as long is Garorock, which, despite its consistently ‘current’ lineups is still markedly family-friendly, and a firm French festival favourite. Les Francofolies de La Rochelle is another established festival, celebrating the finest French acts across a diverse range of styles.
Top alternative billings can be enjoyed from the luxury of the French coast too. Brittany has boasted La Route du Rock for almost three decades in the historic port of Saint-Malo. Festival Beauregard has been held inside the Château de Beauregard, in Normandy, for over a decade and has seen performances from the likes of Depeche Mode, Macklemore and Jack White.
If it's dancing you’re after look to Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Festival for a week of expertly curated world music in the southern town of Séte, and for straight-up EDM head an hour down the coast to Le Barcarès for Electrobeach. Or if it’s a harder techno party you’re looking for why not cross over to Corsica for the infamously stylish Calvi on the Rocks. Another option is Elements Mountain Festival, which is held in the rural mountain town of La Salvetat-sur-Agout, in the South of France, providing acid, techno and harder style underground beats. In Toulouse, Bricks Festival takes place in the scenic surroundings of Parc de la Mounède and is a two day celebration of underground house and techno.
At the other end of the spectrum, Hellfest Open Air brings hundreds of thousands of metal fans to the charming town of Clisson for what they promise to be an ‘extreme music festival’ (though that’s open to interpretation!) and as such is one of France’s most popular festivals. Another home to extreme metal acts is Motocultor Festival in Saint-Nolff, northwestern France. It has seen bands like Alestorm, Sepultura and Hatebreed play there.
Multi-genre festivals include Festival de Carcassonne in the south of France, Les Eurockéennes in the northeastern city of Belfort, and Au Fil Du Son in Civray, western France. Also, La Nuit de l'Erdre in Nort-Sur-Erdre features international headliners, acclaimed French artists and local discoveries. Touquet Music Beach Festival features electronic music, with house, disco and more offered up in ample portions, but also features acts from the worlds of indie, hip hop and more.
France is also home to some of the best ski-slope winter festivals, including Snowboxx, which has a reliably upbeat and mainstream lineup to get the après-ski going, or for the techno lover, there’s the newcomer Chamonix Unlimited, who have proved their worth every year with authoritative, all-star techno masterclass.
From the depths of hell to the snow peaked mountains, then, France continues to flaunt its fertile ground for the music festival. Discover the top 10 music festivals in France.
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