The 18 best music festivals to go to in France this summer

Forget Glastonbury, France is home to some of the best and most eclectic music festivals on offer this summer. We take a look at 18 that are well worth going to.

The 18 best music festivals to go to in France this summer
Photo: AFP

1.      Fête de la Musique, throughout France: 21st June 2017


Launched in 1982, this carnival-like festivity is a celebration of music in all its forms, from jazz to rock, electro to indie. Also called World Music Day around the globe, it is held on the longest day of the year. In Paris the streets, squares and parks are full of musicians performing, and there are free concerts at landmarks, such as the Jardin du Luxembourg.

2.      Solidays, Paris: 23rd – 25th June 2017


A festival with a conscience; Solidays raises money for the HIV and AIDS charity, Solidarité Sida. In recent years the festival has raised millions of euros. Located on the famous Longchamp racecourse, the festival unites musicians from all different genres, so expect to hear a little bit of everything; indie, rock, pop, hip hop and electronic.

3.      Main Square Festival, Arras: 30th June-2nd July 2017

The historic Citadelle of Arras in northern France sees thousands of people fill its walls for this rock and pop festival each summer. The lineup combines international stars with France’s brightest new talents. This year’s headline acts include Major Lazor, Radiohead and System Of A Down.

4.      Calvi On The Rocks, Corsica: 30th June – 5th July 2017


As far as settings for music festivals go, Corsica has to be up there. Calvi On The Rocks is an electronic music festival set on the islands stunning coastline and plays host to some of the top artists of house, techno and alternative music over six days. Festival-goers can soak up the rays in the day and party all night long, making this a festival to remember.

5.      Worldwide Festival, Sète: 3rd – 9th July 2017


Based in a normally sleepy Mediterranean fishing town, next to Montpellier, Worldwide Festival  transforms Sete into a sun-soaked party haven for one week, and has been doing so for the last 11 years. The brain child of Franglish BBC radio 2 jockey Gilles Peterson, it's artists are a mix of live bands and DJs who play an array of styles from Afrobeat to Trance, insuring partying till the early hours. With beach parties during the day and evening concerts taking place in the unique setting of 'Theatre de la mer' this festival is not to be missed.

6.      Peacock Society Festival, Paris: 7th – 8th July 2017


This ' Festival des cultures électroniques' is hidden in the heart of Paris's biggest wood and has been since 2013. The two day festival takes place inside two huge warehouses designed by the famed architect Victor Baltard. Artists such as Laurent Garnier, Four-tet , Nina Kraviz, often grace the stage and keep people on their feet until 7am. Outside of the Warehouses there are smaller concerts, chill out rooms and a “street” with bars and food trucks to recharge.

7.      Jazz Festival, Tourrettes: 7th – 8th July 2017

The Provençal hill-top town of Tourrettes hosts an annual jazz festival each year – picture an intimate gathering in its main square, Place du Château du Puy, with local artists performing. It may be small but the chilled atmosphere is brilliant.

8.      Beauregard, Normandy: 7th -9th July 2017

(Marie de Gouville/Flickr)

A rock, pop, and indie festival set in the grounds of the beautiful Château de Beauregard in Normandy. It is one of the leading alternative festivals in Europe with previous headliners including Lenny Kravitz and Florence + The Machine.

9. Garorock, Marmande: 30th June – 2nd July 2017

This rock, urban and electronic festival is set in the lush rural landscape of Marmande, southwest France. This year the line-up includes Foals, French Fuse, M.I.A, London Grammar, Beth Ditto and many more. There’s also something for the young ones too – Garokids – a mini festival for children aged 6 – 12, with team games and creative workshops. A fun time for the whole family.

10. Electrobeach, Le Barcarès: 13th – 15th July 2017

The biggest electronic festival in France will hit the south coast resort of Barcarès this summer. Global stars of house, EDM, and trance will play to over 100,000 festival-goers on the shores of the Mediterranean. David Guetta, Don Diablo, and Afrojack are just a few of the many musicians who will be producing the beats.

11. Lollapalooza, Paris: 22nd – 23rd July 2017

An export from the USA, which launched in the early 1990s by Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell during the US boom of alternative music. The festival has since expanded to Latin America, with versions in Argentina, Brazil and Chile, as well as Europe which began with a 2015 edition in Berlin. This year head over to the Hippodrome de Longchamp and watch Imagine Dragons, The Weekend, Lana Del Ray and Red Hot Chili Peppers, take to the stage.

12.      The Chopin Festival, Paris: 17th June – 14th July 2017



It is the 34th edition of this festival, which pays tribute to the Polish composer and pianist through interpretations of his work by young musicians. The Orangerie within the Parc de Bagatelle is the grand setting, so after hearing The Nocturne festival-goers can stroll through the botanical gardens.à-Paris

13.      Musilac, Aix-les-Bains: 13th – 15th July 2017


What do you get when you mix a beautiful lake in the foothills of the Alps, top-range musicians and thousands of people? Musilac is the answer. The biggest pop rock event of the Rhône-Alpes region is certainly one of the most breath-taking settings to enjoy some live music. The tunes floating through the air this year will be by Two Door Cinema Club, The Lumineers, Vianney and Sting.

14.      Les Vieilles Charrues, Carhaix: 13th-16th July 2017

With a wood camp, firework display and Fest Noz (a Breton tradition of dancing and musicians playing acoustic instruments), it’s no surprise that this festival attracts around 200,000 people every year. M.I.A, Royal Blood, Phoenix and Seasick Steve are all set to make an appearance.

15.      Les Nuits des Fourvière, Lyon: 1st june – 8th August 2017

(Photo: AFP)

Based in Lyon, Les Nuits de Fourvière is devoted to the arts of the stage, and has brought a variety of disciplines together since 1946: theatre, music, dance, opera, circus, cinema, etc. Every summer, in June and July, the festival puts on around 60 performances in the spectacular Gallo-Roman theatre of Fourvière for over 130,000 spectators. The festival is dedicated to not only building loyalty with internationally reputed artists but also giving opportunity to up and coming names.

16.      La Route du Rock, Saint-Malo: 17th-20th August

Surrounded by the clear blue waters of the sea, this rock festival in Brittany is sure to be a stunner. The evening venue is the 18th century fort of Saint-Père, which will host musical acts such as PJ Harvey, Tale of Us, and Angel Olsen.

17.      Cabaret Vert, Charleville-Mézières: 24th – 27th August 2017

‘The head in the stars, the feet in the Ardennes’, is the tagline for this arty festival in the Champagne region of France. Expect theatre performances, art workshops and film screenings, alongside performances by Kate Tempest, London Grammar, Franz Ferdinand, and Flume.

18.      Rock En Seine, Paris: 25th – 27th August 2017

Celebrating its 15th birthday this summer, this multi-genre festival is one of Europe’s most loved. Located in a park designed by André Le Nôtre (who designed the Park at the Palace of Versailles) just outside Paris. Big and small names share the stage, from The XX to George Ezra, Jain to The Kills.


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The best and worst things about France in the summer

There are some things that make France the best place to be in summer, and then there are others that drive us mad, writes Katie Warren.

The best and worst things about France in the summer
Photo: AFP
Travelling France in the summertime probably evokes images of cruising along the coastal highway of the French Riviera, sipping rosé, frolicking through lavender fields, and having picnics in Parisian parks. 

Perhaps lining up for three hours in the hot sun to get into the Louvre. Or being packed in like sardines at the same Riviera beach half the country decided to go to. Or getting stuck in barely-moving traffic for two hours while trying to get out of Paris.

France in the summer can be wonderful, but before you plan your dream French summer holiday, you should perhaps be aware of some of the downsides.

Here are the some of the worst things about France in the summer. 

Queues and crowds 

More than 80 million people visit France every year, a good portion of them in the summer months. So it’s no surprise that the country becomes inundated with tourists in June, July, and August. 

Paris and the French Riviera are the hardest-hit by the crowds, so if you’re planning on being in either of those places, be prepared for an influx of people, and be ready to wait in queues if you want to do anything remotely touristy.

You might think you’re being clever by hitting up a lesser-known museum in Paris on a hot day instead of going to the beach, but thousands of other people will probably have the same idea.

Our advice for beating the crowds? Visit some of the delightful lesser-known parts of the country such as the Lorraine region in northeastern France, or relatively under-the-radar cities such as Clermont-Ferrand or Rennes.

Driving headaches

Photo: AFP

Tourists and French holiday-makers travelling into and all around France to their summer destinations means loads more vehicles on the roads. 

Keep an eye on France’s official traffic-monitoring site to see peak driving hours and routes and to figure out how to avoid them. 

And although chances are you won’t have any of this sort of trouble, keep a wary eye out for some common scams targeting drivers on French roads.

Melting in the Metro

The summer months are not always a fun time to take public transport. 

In the larger cities, Metro trains are not always air conditioned, so it can be unbearably hot. Being confined in tight quarters with sweaty strangers isn’t what anybody has in mind for an ideal French summer.

But when you are lucky enough to be in a blessedly cool air-conditioned Metro car, it can be a heavenly escape from the streets above. 

Summer also seems to be the designated time for France’s rail operator SNCF and Paris transport group RATP to undertake major construction work on their lines.

Here's a look at the construction works set to affect the capital this summer


Photo: AFP

The French love their strikes. Indeed, there were a total of 966 across France in 2015 (that's 2.6 a day!), according to the site, which records the nation's industrial action in real time. 

And in which month are they most likely to strike? That would be June — the first month of summer, and prime travelling season. 

So while you might want to do your travelling in June to get a headstart on most summer holidaymakers, July and August are your best bets to avoid any travel problems related to strikes. The French tend to trade in striking for lounging on the beach during their holidays.

Elevated prices

The French tourism industry celebrates the mass arrival of tourists during the summer months by jacking up prices. 

Be prepared to shell out more for flights, hotels, and train tickets in France in June, July, and August than during the rest of the year. 

The August dead zone 

Paris 'closes' for August but how long will it last?This one might be closed but a law states a certain number of boulangeries in Paris, must remain open in August. Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP

Good luck trying to get anything accomplished in France during the month of August. Offices, shops, and restaurants close up by the dozens for the entire month so their workers can go on holiday.

Even the end of July can be hit and miss, as some workers take off for their holidays a bit early, so it’s best to get anything important done before then. Or else it will just have to wait until September. 

Although you should be aware of the negatives to help you most make the most of France in the summer months, it’s certainly not all bad. 

There are many more things things that make visiting France in the summer completely worth it.

Here are a few of the best things about France in the summer.

The August dead zone

This is one of the worst and best parts of France in the summer, because unless you actually have to get some work done or get into see the dentist, the month-long holiday period is a beautiful thing. 

Whether they want to or not, those living in France are forced to slow down in August and smell the rosé. 


Yes, believe it or not. The French capital is a great place to be at the height of summer because most Parisians have gone to the beach and the left the city half-empty.

That means, seats on the Metro, albeit a sweaty Metro, seats in bars, space to lie down in parks, less beeping of horns…the list goes on and on.

Rosé wine

Photo: Megan Cole/Flickr

Sure, you can enjoy a glass of rosé any month of the year if you really want to, but there’s nothing quite like sipping a glass of that crisp, refreshing pink wine on a lazy, hot summer afternoon. 

Why not see the French summer through rosé-tinted glasses like the rest of the French do?

Ignore the wine snobs who say rosé has no place up there with red or white wine. If it's good enough for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, it's good enough for us. 


When it comes to festivals, summer is the best time to be in France. Music, gastronomy, dance, theatre… you name it, there’s a festival for it. 

There’s the Cognac Festival in western France, the Avignon Theatre Festival in the south, the Bayonne Festival in the south-west… the list goes on.  

One of the biggest summer events for music in France is the annual three-day Rock en Seine festival that takes place at the end of August just outside of Paris. 

Here's our list of the best events on in France this summer

Outdoor markets

French markets really are at their best in the summertime. Strolling through the sunshine, perusing the vendors’ stalls overflowing with mouth-wateringly fresh produce — perfectly ripe peaches, tomatoes, fragrant basil, juicy strawberries… It doesn't get much better (until you get your food home and can actually eat it).

Terrace life

The French, staunch supporters of café culture, will sit at outdoor terraces even in the dead of winter (and it certainly helps that many of them have heaters and some even offer blankets).

But café terraces really come alive in June, July, and August, when those cafés and rosés and cold beers can be enjoyed in the warm sunshine. 

Apéro is just better in the summer. 


Sunbathers on the beach in Nice, the Riviera's largest city. Photo: AFP

France has more than 3,400 kilometres of coastline, so every kind of beach bum is bound find at least a kilometre or two that will tickle their fancy.

The French Riviera is of course the spot that comes to mind, but the Cote d'Azur isn’t the only place to find a good plage. The Atlantic coast also has its fair share of perfectly sunbathable stretches of sand, not to mention the island of Corsica to the south. 

For when the mercury creeps up way too high and it’s unthinkable to be anywhere but near the sea.

Lavender and sunflower fields

Photo: AFP

The famous lavender fields of Provence in southern France —  sweet-smelling fields of purple as far as the eye can see — are definitely a highlight of summer. 

And don't forget the sunflowers! Not as fragrant, but just as lovely. 

So despite its various drawbacks, I think we can all agree that France in the summer is more than worth a visit. What are you waiting for?