With a history as vast and dramatic as its rugged coastline, the region of Brittany on the northwestern edges of France is fiercely proud of its own unique cultural identity.
Though perhaps best known for its peppering of ancient megaliths, a different and more modern kind of cultural site has begun to arise over the past two decades in the form of the music festival. From the beachside bliss of La Route du Rock in the fortified port town of Saint-Malo to the heavy metal bonanza of Motocultor in the woods of Saint-Nolff, Brittany's festivals are markedly distinct.
As an entry point, we've made a beginners guide to the area to help find your new favourite festival across the channel.
La Route du Rock
Lineup: Tame Impala, Stereolab, Metronomy, Hot Chip, IDLES, The Growlers, Paula Temple, Deerhunter
In the heart of summer, each year in the cobbled, historic port town of Saint-Malo is La Route du Rock, one of the country’s most established music festivals. Once home to pirates (or ‘privateers’), this popular town on the coast now features trendy shops, restaurants and chic hotels within the fortified walls (‘intra muros’), and, whilst home to La Route du Rock, brings in flocks of alternative music fans in their thousands.
Consistently boasting one of the best lineups in the continent for indie, punk, alternative and beyond, La Route du Rock is a staple for any booking agent worth their salt. This year features huge headline performances from Tame Impala, Beirut and Metronomy, which should be a good indicator of the relaxed, left-field vibe you’ll experience throughout the weekend, be it on the breezy beach for lazy daytime sessions or later on in the evening at La Nouvelle Vague.
When & where: 14-17 August 2019, Saint-Malo
Les Vieilles Charrues
Lineup: Martin Garrix, Tears For Fears, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, The Chainsmokers, Black Eyed Peas, Christine and the Queens
Quite simply, Les Vieilles Charrues is one of the biggest music festivals in both France and Europe, now bringing around 300,000 people each July to the pretty town of Carhaix.
Since its beginnings in 1992 with local bands playing to a crowd of 500, the festival has become a platform for some of the biggest bands in the world, mixing current pop and dance acts (The Chainsmokers, Disclosure etc) with world-famous acts such as Tears For Fears, Pharrell Williams, and The Kills.
When & where: 18-21 July, Carhaix
Lineup: NOFX, Hatebreed, Avatar, Napalm Death, Excalibur, Eluveitie, Cancer Bats
If the pop artists of today and the heritage acts of yesteryear don't cut it and you're looking for something that packs a punch then perhaps Motocultor Festival is for you. Well on its way to matching some of its more established cousins such as Download Paris and Hellfest, Motocultor is increasingly attracting a crowd from around the world with some of the biggest names in metal and its many variations.
When & where: 15-18 August, Saint-Nolff
Lineup: Max Cooper, Arnaud Rebotini, X-102 Live: Jeff Mills & 'Mad' Mike Banks, Skee Mask, Apparat, Paula Temple
One for the underground techno heads, Astropolis is one of France's most respected, if not understated, electronic music festivals. Celebrating its 25th birthday this July, its lineup seems to reflect the journey that techno and dance music has taken within those two decades and a half, with legendary names such as Jeff Mills, 'Mad' Mike Banks, Arnaud Rebotini, Paula Temple and Max Cooper shining brightly on the poster. This is a festival made by electronic music fans for electronic music fans.
When & where: 5-7 July, Brest
No Logo BZH
Lineup: Alpha Blondy, Kassav', Patrice, Raggasonic, Sinsemilia, Lidiop, Amadou & Mariam
Another summer party in the inimitable Saint-Malo, No Logo BZH takes the energy down a notch and turns the sound up with some of the best reggae selectors and sound systems in the world. Taking its name from its independent ethics (there are no big-brand sponsors here) and its simple, no-nonsense approach, this festival is all about the music and a general ethos of positivity. Expect some of the biggest names in reggae and dub, both old and new.
When & where: 9-11 August, Saint-Malo