Between the Nice Jazz Festival, Jazz à Juan, and Vence Nuits de Sud, summer on the Riviera is totally Jazz.
When: Five nights, July 8-12, 2013
The Festival: For years held in the charming but problematic gardens in Cimiez, the festival moved downtown 2 years ago to an easy-to-access seaside park, the Jardins Albert 1er in the center of Nice, just off the Promenade des Anglais. There are two outdoor stages, each with 3 concerts a night, and your ticket gives you access to all, so you can bounce back and forth between the musical offerings, as well as a pass or two around the (rather limited) food and drink stands.
The Music: This 5-night festival has a two-pronged approach: the more initmate Theatre de Verdure stage is devoted exclusively to jazz, and the massive Massena stage has a bit broader scope, including rock, pop, soul and funk to attract a larger audience. Last year, jazz lovers grooved to the greats, like Herbie Hancock, Ahmad Jamal, Ron Carter and Dee Bridgewater, while more mainstream choices included Balkan punk with Emir Kusturica, R&B with Selah Sue, blues-rock-soul with Texas, funk with the Jimi Brown Experience, and the eclectic Dr John. Click here for the complete program.
Cost: Tickets are 35€ a night, but only 31€ if you buy before May 31. Two-night passes are available for 55€ and 5-night passes for 120€. Not a bad deal for 6 concerts a night! Click here to order.
Access: The new in-town seaside location has super easy access via the tramway, ride your bike up the Prom, but parking is a bear, so if you must drive just leave the car in one of the three free Parc Azur park-and-ride lots where festival hostesses will give you a free tram pass for the night.
Free: The free ‘OFF’ program hosts concerts, dance parties, open-air films, and late-night jam sessions. Click here for more on the 2012 Jazz OFF program.
Updates: Click here for a blog post update on the 2012 edition, and a good wrap up on the 2012 festival from French Riviera Traveller.
JAZZ A JUAN
When: Eleven nights from July 12-21, 2013
The Festival: Two top-tier concerts nightly on the Riviera’s most stunning sunset sea-view stage.
The Music: This is the festival for jazz purists. Last year the headliners included Keith Jarrett, Charlie Winston, Sonny Rollins, Gary Peacock, Mike Stern, Richard Bona, and ’80′s jazz icons The Crusaders, Joe Sample, Bobby McFerrin and the Yellowjackets. Not limited strictly to jazz, the program included a night devoted to bluesy Gospel, an ’80′s disco-funk soiree with Chic and Kool and the Gang, and even a night with ageless hipster Tom Jones. Click here for the complete program.
Cost: Known for being a little pricey, in fact there are many tickets available in the 20-30€ range, and really there are no bad seats. In addition, there are three free nights: the 12th (Revelations of “Off”), the Gospel night on July 20, both of which just have free entry, and the Big Band night on July 14 which requires a free ticket available from the Antibes and Juan les Pins tourist office starting in June. Tickets on-line here, quick ticket price list here.
Access: Not great… by motorcycle is best, or by car with paid parking. The train (Juan les Pins stop) would be good except that on weeknights the last train is around 10pm, so you’d have to leave early! On Fridays the last train going toward Cannes leaves at 12:13am, and 12:40am on Sat/Sun. Going towards Nice is worse, with the last train leaving at 11:20pm on Fri/Sat/Sun. Here’s the train schedule.
When: Weekends from July 12 to August 10, 2013
The Festival: Super-fun and super-affordable, this Latin jazz fest takes over the town square in Vence. The stage in set up in the town square, giving the festival an intimate feel, a local charm, a fabulous sense-of-place …and great dining opportunities. In fact, this is the only one of the three festivals where you can eat well, whether on a restaurant terrace or from the eclectic choice of food stands.
The Music: Last year’s headliners included Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Earth Wind and Fire, and Catherine Ringer (from ’80 eclectic punk-disco Les Rita Mitsukos). Click here for the complete program.
Cost: Tickets are just 12€ if purchased online before May 13, or 20€ at the door, and a 6-night pass is available for 100€.
Access: This is the festival’s weak point. Unless you have a car or a motorcycle, you can’t go. Actually, you can get there on the Vence bus… but it stops running early, so you’re stuck for a ride back.
Related Pages: Jazz Clubs in Nice
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