2021 Summer Festivals in Provence & Cote d’Azur
What’s On in the South of France?
During the summer in Provence and the Côte d’Azur, daytime temperatures range from warm to hot. So, you don’t need an excuse to laze by the pool. The lavender is in bloom at this time of year, and the sunflowers put on a spectacular floral show. From music under the stars to bulls in the streets, June through September are the busiest festival months in Provence. However, summer is also the most active period for visitor traffic, so plan your days accordingly.
The list below includes the current details at the time of publishing. However, please check with your local tourist office or Marie (town/city hall) for the latest updates. Cancellations and changes are always possible, and make sure to check the schedule and Covid guidelines in advance.
Please note our suggestions (in blue) on places to stay near some of these festivals.
Summer Festivals and Events Provence
Summer is festival time. The problem is choosing from an overwhelming variety of events. World-famous events like Jazz à Juan (started in 1960) and le Festival d’Avignon (since 1947) attract large crowds and celebrated performers. All the principal cities and many small towns in Provence host at least one noteworthy celebration during the warmer months.
The events listed below are annual happenings in the Provence and the Côte d’Azur. The actual dates may change from year to year, so check with the tourism offices for updates. The websites are listed below so that you can find out the current details. Please note this is not a comprehensive list of all the current events. For activities near your location, check local newspapers, flyers at the grocery stores and tourism websites.
June in Provence and on the Côte d’Azur
Returns in June 2022: Calling Foodies Les Étoile de Mougins is the bi-annual food lover’s event. The town of Mougins is probably most famous as the one-time home of Pablo Picasso. However, this chef-led festival includes cooking demonstrations, local producers, food trucks, workshops and more. Oh, and plenty to eat!
June 4-6, 2021 (check for local details): Discover the public and private gardens of Provence and the French Riviera. It’s the 18th edition of Rendez Vous aux Jardins. The 2021 theme is the transmission of knowledge. At some of the gardens, there are workshops, family-friendly activities and even guided visits.
June 18 – July 31, 2021: Dating from 1869, Les Chorégies d’Orange is one of the oldest festivals in southern France. Enjoy an evening under the stars seated in this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Constructed in 1 AD, the Roman Théâtre Antique d’Orange is well-preserved, and some experts argue that it is the best remaining structure of its kind from that era.
June 18 – September 11, 2021: The 9th annual Les Musicales dans les Vignes de Provence kicks off with the first concert at Château Volterra in Ramatuelle. There are 36 vineyards involved in the program and 50 concerts with something for everyone’s taste: jazz, classical music and new age. Book in advance for the concert and wine tasting or add diner to your evening out.
June 21 (check for local details): Summer solstice and Fête de la Musique. On the day with the most daylight hours of the year, it’s time to enjoy some free music. Since Joel Cohen launched the concept in Paris and Toulouse in 1976, the Fête de la Musique expands to musical stages around France and beyond each year. Enjoy the tunes!
June 25-27, 2021: Formula One Grand Prix Race at Circuit Paul Ricard at Le Castellet in the Var. The track initially opened in 1970 the vision and financing provided by Paul Ricard, who made his fortune selling pastis. After his passing, Excelis purchased the facility in 1999.
June (usually the 3rd weekend): Fêtes de la Tarasque – Four days of festivities Tarascon: Every year at the end of June, local legends and fictional characters come back to life and parade through the town. The festival runs through the last weekend in June.
July in Provence and on the Côte d’Azur
July 4 – September 26, 2021: Rencontres d’Arles – Les Rencontres de la Photographie. The Rencontres is a big deal photography festival drawing international photographers and viewers from around the globe. The goal of the Rencontres is to make photography accessible to all with 40+ installations throughout the city of Arles in museums, chapels, cloisters, bookstores, and industrial spaces. Although many venues are within the city centre, it is practically impossible to see all of the exhibits in one day. There are options for day passes and festival passports. Purchase tickets online or at the tourist office in Arles. Download the festival app and start planning your visit.
June 30 – July 25, 2021: The Festival International d’Art Lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence (Festival d’Aix), held every July since 1948, is primarily oriented towards opera. There are also recitals of chamber music, vocal concerts and orchestral sessions. The Festival d’Aix is the largest annual tourist attraction for the city of Aix.
July 5- 25, 2021: During the Festival d’Avignon, the Papal City turns into a theatrical stage. This arts festival, founded in 1947, features performances throughout the city and in the Cours d’Honneur inside the Palais des Papes. The official festival is known as “In” attracts both professional and amateur actors worldwide.
Dates to be determined for 2021 for the Festival Off d’Avignon. Running in parallel to the official Festival d’Avignon promotes work by amateurs, stand-up comics, street performers. The festival offers non-stop entertainment with 1000 performances throughout the period.
Where to stay near Avignon?
Au Soleil Ocre (In the Ocher Sun) is a spacious property near Avignon on La Barthelasse. Available for rent all year, the house can accommodate up to 14 people.
July 2-4, 2021: Les Rencontres Économiques d’Aix-en-Provence is an annual business forum in Aix. Created in 2001 by le Cercle des économistes, this conference is an opportunity for European thought leaders, business heads, NGOs, economists, academics and students to converge in one location. “Conceived from the beginning as an intellectual terrain of encounter among diverse viewpoints, the forum has most recently taken the initiative of enlarging the roles of young people and entrepreneurs in its economic discussions. The 2021 theme is Embracing the future together. Read more about this enlightening forum in an article written by Anne-Marie Simons.
July 10 – 28, 2021: Festival International de Danse in Vaison la Romaine. As the setting sun kisses the Rhone Valley grapevines as the dancers perform in a 7000-seat Roman theatre. For 25 years, the Vaison Danses festival brings together international dancers to perform for audiences in the Vaucluse.
Additional reading, Vaison Danses One of Many Reasons to Visit Charming Vaison La Romaine.
Where to stay near Vaison la Romaine?
Le Prieuré La Madelène is the site of a former 12th-century Benedictine priory nestled in Malaucène at the foot of Mont Ventoux. This B&B with five (5) guest bedrooms, a private cottage (gîte), is a few minutes from Vaison La Romaine.
A beautiful 3-bedroom stone house in the middle of Sablet, within walking distance of boulangerie, cafe, butcher, tabac (news store), grocery store, pharmacy and medical offices.
July 9 – 20, 2021: Since 1960, Juan à Jazz is a significant event for jazz musicians and their fans. In the seaside town of Juan les Pins, musical performers play to the gathered crowds in the pinède (pine grove) Gould overlooking the Mediterranean. Over the years, Juan à Jazz has attracted prominent musicians including Ray Charles, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Michel Legrand, Carlos Santana and Jessie Norman. However, it’s not all about jazz. There are free performances in the streets of Juan les Pins as well.
July 14: Bastille Day is a national holiday filled with plenty of pomp and circumstance. In Paris, there is a huge parade. The Patrouille de France perform their aerial acrobatics show. And, in the evening, fireworks light up the Capital’s skyline. The celebrations are not exclusive to Paris. Check for local events near to you.
July 12 – 17, 2021: The Nice Jazz Festival gets the crowds out to Place Masséna. This flashy music festival began in 1948. Covering a range of music styles, this popular concert series continues to attract big-name acts every summer to Nice. Liz Lord offers some tips for Jazz Festival goers here.
Program TBD: Head to Eygalières for Calan d’Art, a four-night festival of contemporary art and music of the world (a mix of free and paid events), since 2008.
July 23 – August 18, 2021: The International Piano Festival of La Roque d’Anthéron.
August in Provence and the Côte d’Azur
August dates to be confirmed – The Festival de Lacoste created by Pierre Cardin takes place in the Carrières du château du Marquis de Sade. Discover emerging artists and performers of dance, theatre and opera.
August 2021 – Les Chorégies d’Orange
July 23 – August 18, 2021: Begining in 1981, the International Piano Festival of La Roque d’Anthéron brings artists and aficionados together for an annual concert series at the Château de Florans in this charming Luberon village. The grounds of the Château shaded by trees provide a comfortable outdoor venue for up to 2000 people and an excellent acoustic stage for the musicians. During the festival, there are often free performances in local villages. It’s a chance to listen to wonderful music under the stars.
Additional reading on this – Summer Piano Festival in La Roque d’Anthéron.
Where to stay in La Roque d’Anthéron?
Le petit Figuier (The little Figtree) is an adorable bed and breakfast in the centre of the old part of the village.
Dates pending: Saint Jazz Cap-Ferrat has a short run, but it takes place in the ever so lovely town of Saint Jean, overlooking the sea, under the massive pines, in a tiny venue holding about 150 folding chairs.
August 15: is a public holiday Assumption Day, or Assomption in French.
August 15: Marks the official end of the Lavender season in Sault. The Fête de la Lavande is a family-friendly event at the horserace track (Le Déffends). Expect a day filled with the fragrance lavender, including artisanal products and a lavender-cutting contest.
August 15: Antique lovers head to Isle-sur-la-Sorgue for “Antiques Art and You,” the second annual fair in town. Ranked in the top three in Europe, these annual antique fairs (August & Easter) started over 100 years ago. The market attracts 300+ dealers and 100,000 visitors. Looking for a place to stay near Isle sur la Sorgue?
Where to stay in L’Isle sur la Sorgue?
Hotel La Maison Sur La Sorgue – Housed in a former 17th-century mansion with its remarkable architecture, this small, luxury hotel has four spacious, well-appointed guest suites.
August 28, 2021: The 25th annual Ban des Vendanges des Côtes du Rhône takes place in Avignon. The event is a celebration surrounding the launch of the annual grape harvest. Head to Avignon for the festivities centred around the Rocher des Doms near the Palais des Papes.