With its world famous jazz festival, the super-clubs of Juan les Pins and a buzzing summer line-up of street performers, the commune of Antibes-Juan les Pins has a lot to offer the music lovers who plan their holiday right.
Antibes, like so many towns along the Riviera, comes alive in the summer with the sounds of street music, as performers gather to take advantage of the long warm evenings and summertime crowds. It’s rare in July or August to sit down at one of the many outdoor cafes without seeing a procession of buskers performing. As you might imagine, some are brilliant- of particular note is the German brass band who trail through the town, swinging from fountains and getting everyone dancing in the streets. Others, predictably, are not quite so brilliant, and sometimes you might wish to pay them just to go away. (Anyone who spends any length of time in Antibes in mid-summer may find that accordion music, for instance, gets old quite quickly.) Either way, there’s a festival atmosphere that comes along with the music and street performers that is hugely entertaining.
At the pinnacle of this public celebration of street music is the infamous Fete de la Musique, which takes place across France each year on the 21st of June. The streets are teeming with live acts, all competing for soundspace. A DJ might be set up on a corner, stopping traffic as everyone dances under the shadow of the ramparts, a rock band plays under lights on stage in a crowded square, and people with guitars and microphones fill every available space. People crowd on balconies to watch the fun, or climb on bollards to get a better view before moving onto the next act. It is a noisy, incredible night full of crowds and fun and fireworks. It’s a true part of the French musical experience and something well worth booking a trip around.
The most famous music festival on the Riviera is ‘Jazz à Juan’ which takes place in July in Juan les Pins, part of the commune of Antibes and just a 20 minute walk from Antibes centre. This is no trifling local event; this event has been attracting jazz world greats such as Ray Charles, Santana and Stevie Wonder since the festival started in 1960, making it Europe’s oldest jazz festival. While the main open air concert venue is under the pine trees along the seafront, the festival spills throughout the town and into neighbouring Antibes, with free events and buskers filling the pavements and squares.
Year round there is live music to be found; even in the quiet winter months regular cover bands can be found playing, particularly in the English and Irish pubs- the Blue Lady, The Quays and the Hop Store in particular. Several of Antibes’ bars have DJ’s year round, such as Le Happy Face and Le Latinos- although if you’re up for a dance club with big name DJ’s, you will have to head over the hill to nearby Juan les Pins.