Jazz musicien
©Geoff Goldswain

Côte d'Azur: land of Jazz... and festivals!

Every year, the Côte d’Azur resonates to the sound of jazz, soul, blues, rock and pop music from international stars come to set the audience abuzz with their heady melodies. Here are the best jazz festivals not to be missed this summer!


On the cusp of the 1950s, LPs allowed the French to discover Duke Ellington and Sidney Bechet, two giants of the jazz scene who came to France to play in just two towns: Paris and Juan-les Pins. Revolutionary for the time, the Jazz in Juan festival has been welcoming the jazz pantheon since 1960:  Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, George Benson and even Ray Charles, who performed his first European concert here… We understand better why Jazz in Juan is THE legendary festival on the Côte d’Azur!

The Gould pine forest is, to stars all over the world, what the Scala in Milan may represent to a singer. Gospel, blues, swing, bebop, jazz-rock, modern jazz or electro-jazz, the famous names and rising stars deliver authentic jazz, with the Mediterranean Sea and the setting sun as the backdrop to every concert.

From 6 to 19 July, George Benson, Paul Anka, Roberto Fonseca, John Legend, Diana Krall and Herbie Hancock, amongst others, will set the seaside resort hopping to the greatest pleasure of the festival goers.

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The first edition of the Nice Jazz Festival to place in February 1948, after the Nice Carnaval. It was the first time in the world that a jazz festival took place!

The 1970s saw jazz greats pass through: Louis Armstrong, Django Reinhardt and Ella Fitzgerald to name just a few. While the Opera hosted the first edition, the Nice Jazz Festival is nowadays held on Place Masséna and in the Théâtre de Verdure. And from 15 to 19 July, the great names from the jazz and modern scene have clearly decided to offer their audience some exceptional moments!

From Ibrahim Maalouf to Clara Luciani, Fatoumata Diawara, Avishai Cohen, Melody Gardot and Iggy Pop, the festival celebrates music with a programme covering an extremely broad musical spectrum.

Whether a jazz fans or simply a lover of (extremely) good music, there’ll be something for everyone! Soul, funk effusions, pop, disco and world music, all the elements for a memorable evening are brought together in the heart of Nice.

On the fringes of the Nice Jazz Festival you can enjoy a free jazz OFF programme taking place in various town districts and villages within the Metropole. There are loads of talented and passionate artists to be discovered.

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37 years ago, the arrival of jazz in Ramatuelle was down to the village postman. The meeting between the “swing postie” and Guy Lafitte, a great French saxophonist was a major turning point in what is now a “true” jazz festival! Because the natural and soothing atmosphere of the Theatre Gardens offer a truly calm space for artists on the French and international jazz scene, conducive to the most captivating melodic and vocal performances.

You’ve got it, from 16 to 20 August, the jazz soul plays at the Jazz in Ramatuelle festival! A varied and mixed musical programme encourages the jazz prodigies who showcase their albums with ferocious energy and a true ease. The thoroughly elegant Big In Jazz Collective, an authentic reflection of the creation of Caribbean jazz, is getting the ball rolling this year. These Afro-Caribbean all-stars take the classics of the biguine, a musical style that originated in Martinique, and give them a modern, original and innovative dimension.

Considered as one of the best electric bassists in the world, Étienne Mbappé, who moves from stage to stage the world over alongside the greatest figures of our time, such as Salif Keita, Jacques Higelin, Liane Foly and Ray Charles, presents a new concept that continues to make jazz shine. Francesco Bearzatti, Émile Parisien, the Gauthier Toux Trio, Cecil L. Recchia and the Belmondo Quintet will have you move from blues jazz to groovy sounds and joyfully melodic rhythms!

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The highest up is without doubt the Peillon Jazz Festival! Considered as one of the prettiest hilltop villages, Peillon is hosting the second edition of its jazz festival. From 1 to 4 July, there are no less than 4 evenings of jazz awaiting you. On each of these evenings, there are 3 exceptional concerts by immensely talented artists: André Ceccarelli, Stefano Di Battista, Eric Legnini, Pierre Bertrand, Randy Brecker and many more… If you choose to take the car, free shuttles have been organized from the foot of the village up to Place Arnulf. From Nice-Ville, consider taking the train for greater tranquillity!

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The 2022 edition of the Jazz Festival in Porquerolles will be on the theme of World and Resistance music. The score will be played at Fort Sainte Agathe. The magnificent poet and slammer from Trinidad, Anthony Joseph, and also the French-Syrian flautist Naïssam Jalal will open the show on 9 July. They will be followed by a host of artists from all four corners of the globe, to be discovered until 13 July. Pure pleasure and a dream programme to soothe the savage beast.

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The Saint-Paul-de-Vence Classic & Jazz Festival, from 23 to 31 July, welcomes classical music and jazz enthusiasts to one of the most beautiful villages in the south. Baroque, jazz, piano recitals and genius quartets enchant Place de la Courtine and the Maeght Foundation, centred on artists who are as varied as they are complementary.

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From 11 to 13 August, the enchanting setting of the Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat Peace Garden, sheltered by the pines and lulled by the sea, will host the 10th edition of the Saint Jazz Cap Ferrat. Yusan, Vincent Peirani and even the Erik Truffaz Quartet will conceptualize the many colours of jazz in an exceptional backdrop.

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