A road trip in France during June, July or August is most people’s idea of a fantastic summer holiday - but where to go? There are plenty of places you might go to drink wine or eat cheese, and myriad options for sightseeing. Surfers can head to the southwest where small beach towns dot the Atlantic coast, and anyone who likes to see and be seen should make a beeline for the French Riviera.
France is big on festivals in the summertime. Some of these, like the Festival d’Avignon, are all about performing art, theatre, film, tech and other aspects of culture. The country’s largest, the Fêtes de Bayonne, is a fascinating mix of traditions and events over five days celebrating nothing in particular and everything at once whilst everyone wears white shirts, red scarves and espadrilles. However, music lovers will be happy to hear that there are a huge number of French music festivals scattered around the country over the warmer months. These, combined with a France car rental
, make for an incredible adventure: good food, pretty countryside, amazing history and tunes to top it all off.
Here are some of the best French music festivals and how to get there!
Rock en Seine
This rocking festival takes place just outside of Paris in the Domaine National de Saint-Cloud. It started in 2003 and has grown to become one of the biggest music festivals in France. With three days of music (largely rock but including all kinds from pop to dance to jazz), it attracts both campers and day trippers. This year’s lineup will include the Chemical Brothers, The Libertines, The Offspring, Interpol, John Butler Trio and more for a wonderful and diverse three days of sounds from the 28th-30th of August.
Music festivals aren’t only for the young and hip. The Chorégies d’Orange is a summer opera festival in Orange, southern France. It is spaced out over a month with operas, recitals and concerts happening sporadically throughout, at the amazingly well-preserved Roman theatre which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The lovely setting, French summer evenings and beautiful music enchant visitors from all over Europe and beyond.
In 2015, there are seven performances spread from the 7th of July to the 3rd of August. Pick up a car rental from Marseille
and you can combine some wonderful evenings of opera with excursions to see the gorgeous and glamorous French Riviera.
Main Square Festival
Happening in the little-known city of Arras north of Paris, the Main Square festival attracts some surprisingly big names. On this year’s line-up: Lenny Kravitz, The Script, Hozier, Muse, Charli XCX, Pharrell Williams and Mumford and Sons. Taking place this year from the 3rd-5th of July, the festival regularly welcomes 40,000 people each day and offers off-site camping. It has a very cool location in the city’s Citadel, built in the 17th century as a defensive structure against attacks from the north.
To combine the Main Square Festival with a road trip through northern France, grab a rental car from Lille
or Paris and get exploring. There are many war monuments and memorials to be seen, and a lot of friendly small towns and hidden treasures in this region which tends to fly under the tourism radar.
This is France’s biggest music festival and has something for everyone genre-wise. It is held in Brittany and attracts a total of more than 200,000 punters annually over four days of fun and music. There is free camping, five stages, a mixed bag of acts, fabulous French food and lots of up-and-coming talent known as the “jeunes charrues”. This year, the festival is happening from the 16th to the 19th of July and features names like Muse, The Prodigy, David Guetta, The Chemical Brothers, Lionel Richie, Tom Jones and many others.
Vielles Charrues is the perfect excuse to plan a road trip in France’s charming Brittany (Bretagne) region. Book a car rental from Brest
and drive the dramatic coastline of this historic peninsula.
Happening on the 10th-12th of July just outside of Perpignan, Electrobeach takes place seaside and is a huge celebration of electronic music, meaning most of the acts are DJs. The nearby beach of Port-Barcarès is a safe place to swim, the weather is sizzling and the party atmosphere makes for an amazing three days for lovers of EDM. The lighting and visual effects are admired by festival junkies worldwide, and the festival even features Lydia, a grounded cruise ship sticking out of the sand to form a ready-made stage. Headlining in 2015 are Alesso, Armin van Buuren, Avicii and plenty more great electronic acts.
With a car rental from Perpignan
, you are already close to the action. After the last bars of electronica have finished, the French Riviera awaits for the road trip of a lifetime! You could go as far as Monaco and hit all of the glitzy cities like Nice and Cannes along the way.
Forget Glastonbury, head across the channel this summer to experience the sights, sun and sounds of France.