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Top Five Rock Festivals in France

Sure, there are plenty of classical and jazz festivals in France. But for those of us who like our music loud, here are some noteworthy outdoor festivals featuring a mix of international headliners and local talent:

Bois de Boulogne, Paris
June 26-28
€45 for the three-day pass

Solidays are all about “Solidarité SIDA”, or AIDS/HIV Solidarity. So in addition to the musical lineup, expect to see Act-Up tents, lots of free condoms being distributed, and a bit too much blah blah blah from the French musicians when they should (IMHO) be singing. Still, good fun, not too pricey, and easy to get to from Paris. This year’s lineup (lots of up-and-comers): NTM, Stuck in the Sound, Sporto Kantès, Hugh Coltman, Groundation, The Ting Tings, Keziah Jones, Puppetmastaz, Les Wampas, Emir Kusturica & the No-Smoking Orchestra, etc.

Main Square Festival
Arras, France
July 2-5
Four-day tickets and camping for €175.

Coldplay! Placebo, Kaiser Chiefs, Lenny Kravitz, Kayne West, Moby, Franz Ferdinand, Amy MacDOnald and more near Lille in northern France. The website is buggy (or it’s my browser). But…Coldplay!!!

Les Eurockéennes
Belfort, France
July 3-5
Three day passes plus camping: €88-€95.

Since 1989, this international rock festival on the Malsaucynear peninsula near the Swiss border takes place in a natural setting with sandy beaches. Big names for 2009: Kayne West, Prodigy, Slipknot, NTM, Pete Doherty…

Les Vieilles Charrues
Carhaix, Brittany
July 16-19
Tickets €75 for three days (17th-19th, first day already sold out)

Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band! But don’t get too excited, because that day is already sold out. At least “officially”. The Killers are also playing that day. For the rest of the festival you can hear Lenny Kravitz, Moby, and Renan Luce. This is a locally-run, non-profit association festival.

Rock en Seine
Parc de Saint Cloud, Paris
August 28-30

€99 for three days (these sell out fast; camping extra)
This is my favorite festival of all because there are always so many headliners I like (even if Amy Winehouse no-showed two years in a row). This year has a good start with Oasis, Faith No More, Prodigy, Offspring, Madness (!!), and Amy Macdonald among others.

Other festivals for late summer and fall:

Route du Rock
Saint-Malo, Brittany
August 2009

A great festival to see the up-and-coming European bands.

Fête de l’Humanité
Paris, France
September 2009

A non-profit festival, usually under €20 for three days of music from mostly French bands, with heavy emphasis on social and environmental issues: music with debates, and stand selling “ethical” products, très français.

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