Your Perfect French Music Festival

June 13, 2023   Culture


When it gets close to summer, our students start asking us for music festival recommendations. France has one of the best music scenes in the world, so it can be hard to narrow down the options! We asked the Coucou team for their favorite festivals, and then organized them by theme. Whether you’re looking for a giant rave or a green festival, one that takes place on the beach or in a quaint village, or even a winter festival, there’s something on our list for you! 

As usual, in the “practice your French sections,” we’ve also included some links to French videos about topics like festival fashion so you can keep brushing up on your language skills. If you’re a French/music history buff and want to learn more about the origins of the famous “Fête de la musique,” try listening to this fascinating piece about the first music festival held in France in 1916!

By Sophia Millman

 

support an Awesome Charity: Solidays  

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Solidays returned in 2022 and has never been more popular. Held at the Hippodrome de Paris Longchamp in June, this festival brings together Youtubers, filmmakers, philosophers and activists who discuss major social issues and current affairs related to human rights, sexual health, and the environment. It also showcases a plethora of artists over the course of three days. Recent musicians who’ve played at the festival include Orelsan, Justice, and Eddy de Pretto. Solidays is more than just a music festival: it began in the 1990s as part of Luc Barruet’s vision to fight against HIV/AIDS. Last year, over 80,000 condoms were distributed during the festival, and 70% of the profits–totaling over 2 million euros–were used for prevention and support for those living with HIV/AIDS. 

 

 

eCO-FRIENDLY: We Love Green

This music festival is known for its commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility and takes place in early June in the Parisian park le Bois de Vincennes. Over three days, there are about 90 performances by musicians like Phoenix, Skrillex, and Bon Iver. One unique thing about We Love Green is its 100% vegetarian menu–a first for a large-scale festival in France. Besides listening to music or playing sports (there’s a skatepark at the festival), festival-goers can also participate in think tanks and visit a “village des innovations” that features companies and associations focused on sustainable development. 

 

  • Practice your French: Check out this video about what to wear to French musical festivals, which was shot at We Love Green. 

Learn more here

 

Amazing Location: Eurockéennes de Belfort

 

One of France’s biggest festivals, “les Eurocks” has welcomed legendary artists such as Oasis, Radiohead, Daft Punk, Coldplay and Amy Winehouse. Every year, over 130,000 festival-goers from all over Europe come together for four days of concerts in a breathtaking natural location. The festival takes place on a peninsula between the Etang de la Véronne and the Lac du Malsaucy (watch this to get a sense of the scenery). If you go, we recommend staying in a campsite nearby and exploring the amazing area. Although the word “rock” is in its name, les Eurockéennes isn’t just about rock music. You can also hear plenty of metal, folk, reggae, and pop music. 

Learn more here

 

Biggest: Festival des Vieilles Charrues

 

This huge annual music festival is held over four days during the third weekend of July in Carhaix-Plouguer, in Brittany. Established in 1992, the festival boasts an eclectic lineup encompassing various musical genres including pop, rock, electro, and hip-hop. Despite its relatively remote location, the festival has achieved tremendous success by attracting a wide array of artists–Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Snoop Dogg–and by mixing well-known headliners with emerging talent. In 2016, the festival made its way to New York City–see here!

 

  • Last year, the Vieilles Charrues celebrated its 30th anniversary. Practice your French by watching a short video about the festival here
  • Learn more here

 

Beach Vibes: Calvi on the Rocks

 

This laidback Corsican festival has been called the “new Coachella.” Its electronic music scene and young vibe might not be for everyone, but if you’re a fan of islands like Ibiza then this is the perfect choice for you. What sets this festival apart is its exceptional location, with events held right on the beach during the day and at the open-air Théâtre de la Verdure at night, allowing attendees to enjoy the Mediterranean sea while dancing. The festival also emphasizes aesthetics, with carefully curated décor, elaborate light shows, and visually striking posters created by prominent artists. With its stunning setting in a small Corsican village, Calvi on the Rocks boasts an awesome lineup every July with renowned names from French and international electronic music, ensuring non-stop dancing. 

Learn more here

 

Best Francophone Festival: Les francofolies de la Rochelle

Established in 1985, this festival hosts over 150,000 attendees across five days each July in the beautiful coastal city of La Rochelle. Besides hearing Francophone music from around the world, you can attend screenings, conferences, meet-ups, and workshops. In addition to the flagship festival in La Rochelle, there are other Francofolies festivals in a variety of other places including Montréal, Bulgaria, and Saint-Paul de La Réunion. 

Learn more here

 

Classic Vibes: Rock en Seine

 

A recent study of all music festivals in France found that Rock en Seine has the best “rapport qualité-prix”: you get the best bang for your buck at this Parisian festival. Launched in 2003, Rock en Seine takes place in August at the incredibly scenic Domaine National de Saint-Cloud Park slightly west of Paris. Over the past few years, it has built a reputation for big-name bands, and it also entered rock history when Oasis split up there! Despite its name, Rock en Seine in fact features hip-hop, metal, electronica and pop. TimeOut routinely chooses it as one of the best music festivals to attend in Europe. 

Learn more here

 

Best Winter Festival: Rencontres Trans Musicales

 

Founded in 1979, Trans Musicales has evolved from a little-known local event into one of France’s most exciting festivals. It’s held in the picturesque French city of Rennes every December and focuses on new and diverse talents from across the globe. Whether you’re into hip-hop, rock, jazz or something a little more niche like Lithuanian queer feminist rap, you’ll find your jam here. As the festival is held in the evenings, visitors can explore Rennes by day, enjoying the bustling Marché des Lices, and experiencing the city’s enchanting Christmas-market atmosphere. Another bonus: Rennes is easily accessible via high-speed train from Paris! 

  • Practice your French: If you’re up for a challenge, watch this fast-paced, slang-filled video about what to bring to music festivals in France. (We recommend turning on the subtitles.)  

Other festivals you might like:

  • If you’re into Jazz, check out Montreux
  • Want something more indie at the beginning of summer? Try La Crème
  • Are you more into heavy metal? Don’t miss Hellfest.
  • Interested in something intergenerational? Check out the newer festival Vyv
  • Into electronic music? Les Nuits Sonores in Lyon or Worldwide Festival in Sète might be right up your alley! 

 

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