Today’s biggest names in jazz will flock to Juans-les-Pins this July as Europe’s oldest Jazz festival bursts into life once again. Headlined by internationally revered icon Lenny Kravitz; Grammy-Award winner Norah Jones; singer-songwriter Carla Bruni and soul giants Earth, Wind & Fire, this year’s Jazz a Juan promises to live up to its reputation as the main event in the jazz calendar.
“Jazz music creates so many phenomenal figures.” Winton Marsalis
Ask any great jazz musician where they dream of playing. The answer will undoubtedly be the stage under the pine trees of Juans-les-Pins’ beautiful Pinède Gould gardens. Jazz a Juan was inaugurated in 1960 as a tribute to Sidney Bechet, the famous jazz musician. It has since become a mecca for all-time jazz greats including Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone. While jazz remains at its core, the festival has opened up to other genres over the years, attracting crowds of up to 50,000 from around the world.
Seats in the stands of the arena give the best view of the main stage backdropped by the glittering bay, but you don’t necessarily need a ticket to the festival itself to be part of the action. Marching bands parade the streets of Juans-les-Pins in July, and regular free jazz performances take place across our beloved hometown, too. If you’re looking for some early evening entertainment you might like to head to the small stage opposite the main festival site. Musicians play from 6.30 to 7.30pm. Later on, night owls will be delighted by the Jazz Club around Midnight, which takes the form of a jam session on Les Plage Les Ambassadeurs in the small hours. Sipping a drink to the sounds of jazz accompanied by the gently lapping waves is a truly memorable experience in Juan-les-Pins.
See more from our Life.Style journal and keep up with the region’s sparkling calendar of festivals and events here.