posted on May 13, 2010 19:00
French summer music festivals tend to be smaller than their international counterparts. There's certainly no Gallic event that compares in size to Roskilde, Sziget, Werchter or Glastonbury. La Route du Rock, for instance, only ever has around two dozen acts.
Perhaps the biggest summer music festival in France is Eurockéennes, which takes place on the first weekend of July near the eastern city of Belfort. This year's four-day event will have around 80 acts - plenty of whom are top-quality marquee names. And the festival's spectacular lakeside setting guarantees a memorable experience.
The first day, Thursday 1 July, is a starter ahead of the main course. To serenade punters as they arrive from all round Europe, those enjoyable Icelandic electropoppers FM Belfast will play in one of the festival campsites.
Real business begins on Friday 2 July. Jay-Z and Missy Elliot bring the bling-bling of genuine rap/R n'B superstars, while Charlotte Gainsbourg supplies some home-grown glamour. Also on the bill that day and night: Hot Chip, Foals, Kasabian, Patrick Watson, The Black Keys and our own Two Door Cinema Club in what seems to be their now-fortnightly French gig.
Saturday's notional headliners are The Hives but the real draw that night will surely be The Specials, The XX and Broken Social Scene. A strong French side for that day's line-up features Vitalic, Emilie Simon and General Elektriks. Further down the running order are Memory Tapes, also worth catching.
A quaint Eurockeennes tradition is to make the last night's headliner a real stinker, to cater for those who need to skip out early for the last bus or train. Last year it was Slipknot; this year it's Mika. But the rest of Sunday's line-up is stuffed with quality. Massive Attack and Martina Topley-Bird are on trip-hop duty; LCD Soundsystem and Empire Of The Sun serve up electro-pop, an Ethiopiques show should sound blissful on a summer afternoon, and there are some indie gems like Health, Fuck Buttons and The Middle East to be found here and there.
A weekend pass costs only €95 and a single day's ticket costs just €39. Camping on the festival site is free for ticket-holders to a limit of 12,000 people. If you book early enough to get a cheap Queasyjet flight to nearby Mulhouse, you could be lucky enough to secure your entire festival weekend in sunny France, travel included, for less than the price of an Irish festival ticket. (In addition, there are special bus + ticket packages to bring punters from most major French cities.)
Full details in English are available on the Eurockeennes 2010 website. Here's 'The Songs That We Sing' by this year's biggest French name, Charlotte Gainsbourg. Neighbour of ours, don't you know: