InspireMary Kay SealesWhat's On Provence & Cote d'Azur

Summer, Jazz on the French Riviera: How Can You Lose?

Even if you’re not a jazz aficionado, you’ll enjoy these smokin’ hot outdoor music festivals on the Côte d’Azur this summer. Build your trip around one, or all three!

Nice Jazz Festival 2019

July 16 – 20

It’s another one of those impossibly, beautiful warm summer nights in Nice. The sea is blue, blue, blue, the pastel colors of the Old Town buildings are glowing in the sunset of another perfect day on the Mediterranean, and French jazz fans are out for one of the best summer jazz festivals you can find.

For a week in late July, the Jardin Albert 1 is cordoned off into two separate stages for the annual Nice Jazz Festival, hosting an eclectic mix of world-class artists. From more traditional jazz artists such as Christian McBride, Herbie Hancock & Joshua Redman to triphop, blues and flamenco-infused jazz (Camille Bertault, Mary J Blige, & Da Soul Live Band), it’s always a surprising and satisfying experience. Discover the 2019 musical line-up.

Considering the caliber of the acts, the price is unbeatable: 39 Euros/Day with a 5-Day Pass going for 130 Euros. It’s totally worth it! Here, are the ticket options and packages.

Summer Jazz French Riviera

The late, great Randy Weston at the Nice Jazz Festival, 2018

Jazz-a-Juan 2019

July 12-21

Juan-les-Pins is a hop, skip and a jump from Nice (about 20 minutes by train) so you can easily attend both concerts on your travel to the French Riviera.

Although Nice can proudly claim its title as the first jazz festival in the world, the Jazz-a-Juan Festival is as historic as the Nice Festival as you will see from the handprints along the sidewalk in front of the festival grounds: Sidney Bechet, Miles Davis, and Ray Charles, to name a few.

The fun little city of Juan-les-Pins was the playground for Zelda and F. Scott (and the setting for Tender is the Night). It was the place to go when one tired of Paris in the 1920s and 30s: “Le Provençal {hotel in Juan] became hugely popular, especially with the Hollywood crowd, gaining a reputation as the ‘place-to-be’ in Juan les Pins, and a spot where the world’s celebrities and beautiful people came to party.” It still has a hip vibe and a great nightlife.

This year’s Jazz-a-Juan line up includes Steve Gadd, George Benson, Ben Harper, and Snarky Puppy. This is a smaller venue than the Nice Festival with super loyal fans, so snag your tickets for these concerts ASAP.

Summer Jazz French Riviera

Greg Zlap & Ian Siegal at the Saint Jazz Cap-Ferrat Festival, 2018

Saint Jazz Cap-Ferrat 2019

August 11-14

Oh, what a sweet, lovely festival, this one! It runs for just a few evenings in August, 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. In this intimate setting, you feel part of the Saint Jean community of jazz fans. It’s the perfect opportunity to practice your French! Festival Guide 2019.

Summer Jazz French Riviera Nice Jazz Festival

French jazz fans enjoying the cool scene in the hot sun at the Nice Festival, 2017

Here, are some extra visitor tips from Liz Lord to maximize your fun at the Nice Jazz festival.


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Mary Kay Seales

Mary Kay Seales was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest in Washington State, where she also teaches writing to international students at the University of Washington. As a lifelong traveler, photographer and writing teacher, her recent move into travel writing was a natural progression.

She has lived and worked in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Costa Rica, India, Azerbaijan and France, and her travels include Bora Bora, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Peru among other destinations.

She is the author of two guide books - The Beginner’s Guide to the French Riviera: Stop Dreaming & Start Packing, and The Beginner’s Guide to the Olympic Peninsula: Exploring the Wild Beauty of the Pacific Northwest - as well as a frequent contributor to other publications in France.

Her most recent blog is The Conscious Traveler.

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