where to catch a concert in and around the Luberon
The Luberon and Provence are alive with the sound of music in the summer, from village squares to vast amphitheatres. Here are the highlights to look out for.
Les Musicales du Luberon
A Luberon institution, this series of concerts attracts some top classical talent to intimate and beautiful church settings, like those at Menerbes and Oppede-le-vieux. The musical menu is usually focused on the baroque period.
Something different, an electro music festival in the stunning setting of Lourmarin castle, this is very popular among the beautiful crowd from Paris, so tickets are hard to come by.
An opera and classical recital festival held in the Roman theatre of Orange, holding 9,000 people. The 37-metre tall stage wall ensures amazing acoustics for an outdoor venue. The Chorégies usually takes place in July.
Actually the International Festival of Lyric Art, but known as the Festivale d’Aix, this is a prestigious festival in July, with opera and classical concerts on the menu. The outdoor venues are various striking parts of the city centre. Tickets are expensive, but if you can afford them this is a great way to spend a balmy summer’s night in one of France’s most beautiful cities.
The Avignon Festival is a huge cultural event that takes over the city for two weeks in July. It is mostly theatre and comedy, but there is also some dance and music. The main festival happens in prestigious locations like the Popes’ Palace, while the “Off” or fringe festival happens wherever a veue can be found, even in the streets.
Roque d’Antheron Festival
This is an open-air international piano festival attracting some of the world’s best pianists, and the nickname ‘Mecca of the Piano’. The main venue is in the grounds of the Chateau de Florans, but it has now spread out to other delightful spots, and the programme has extended beyond the piano, even beyond classical. The Roque d’Antheron festival takes place in July-August.
Gordes Summer Nights Festival
The Festival des Soirées d’été is a series of August evening concerts (typically jazz), plays, comedy in an outdoor venue cradled into the rock of Gordes. It holds 500 people and you are necessarily very close to the performers.
Summer Music Festival, Lourmarin
Either inside Lourmarin Castle or using it as a backdrop, a summer-long series of classical music recitals, with the added pleasure of an outdoor picnic dinner beforehand using the tables and chairs provided.
Sunset Concerts, Oppede-le-vieux
Les Concerts au Coucher de Soleil is the smallest and most dramatic of the music festivals listed here, taking place around the old church above the village of Oppede-le-vieux, with its majestic views. Music is classical and opera, and it happens over several nights in August.
Fete de la Musique
Finally, it should be mentioned that on June 21, the longest day, in the whole of France it is the Fete de la Musique (music party). This means there is free music everywhere that day/night, even the smallest village will have a stage set up in the square, and this will be more along the lines of popular music than classical. It is a time when people take to the streets and just enjoy the buzz.