One of the many wonderful things I love about summer on the Côte d’Azur is the music festivals. Throughout July and into August the choice of concerts and artists at just three of the main events is phenomenal: Nice Jazz Festival, Jazz à Juan and Les Nuits du Sud.
Suzanne Vega in Vence
My favourite is les Nuits du Sud, a World Music festival, for its amazing value for money, eclectic range of music and laid-back family atmosphere. The main square, Place du Grand Jardin, in the town of Vence hosts the festival with a giant stage erected at one end leaving all the cafés, bars and restaurants open around the other three sides. This is what I love. You can book an outdoor table for dinner at one of the restaurants and watch the concert from there. You can get up and go closer to the action and then head back for dessert or coffee! Everyone mingles around between the bars and the stage, there’s no tiered seating. On top of this children under 12 go free so it’s the ideal opportunity to introduce young kids to live music. There’s always a spot that’s not too crowded and there’s none of the queueing and hanging around associated with big venues because you can amble around the boutiques and cafés while waiting. If the children get too tired and can’t last the evening you don’t feel like you need to stay to get your money’s worth because it cost you an arm and a leg to take the whole family. Quite the opposite: this year’s pre-sale tickets are only 12€ or 20€ on the door (with 6 & 13 night passes available too). There are 2 concerts a night. I call that a bargain!
Shibusa Shirazu Orchestra
We’ve been to concerts with Lou Messugo guests and we’ve taken our boys to their first big gig; Toots and the Maytals. But having said that it’s no problem to leave early I must admit to being a little, teeny weeny bit fed up when we had to leave Toots after only a couple of songs because the children were too tired! The first part of the evening featured a crazy (there was no other word for it) Japanese band, Shibusa Shirazu Orchestra, who were totally unknown to us but were just so unusual and basically bloody brilliant that nobody wanted them to stop and they played on and on and on. The boys loved it, so did we but the aim of the evening had been to see Toots and introduce our kids to reggae. JF “courted” me (to use an old-fashioned word) to a soundtrack of Toots and the Maytals – it’s “our” music and we were dying to see him live. In the end Toots came on at midnight which was just too late for a 5 year old.
Les Nuits du Sud 2012 features Earth, Wind & Fire, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Kid Creole, Imany & Manu Dibango amongst others. It runs from 12 July to 11 August.
Jazz à Juan 2012 features Tom Jones, Anoushka Shanker, Charlie Winston, Nora Jones, Keith Jarret & Sonny Rollins amongst others. It runs from 12 to 22 July
Nice Jazz Festival 2012 features Erykah Badu, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Herbie Hancock, Texas & Emir Kusturica amongst others. It runs from 8 to 12 July