Summer time in South of France is a dream destination for many travelers in Europe. When it comes time to choose the destination, many think about the famous Cote d’Azur and its posh atmosphere – understand crowded and expensive – or Bordeaux and its vineyards for wine amateurs – understand quiet activities. But if like me you are looking for an alternative destination, charming and authentic with a bit of rock’n roll then Argeles-sur-Mer in the Eastern Pyrenees might be the place for your next holidays.

Copyright: Google Maps

Argeles is a former fisherman village located between the Alberes mountain range and the Mediterranean Sea, offering spectacular landscapes. Accessible from Perpignan airport (23 km), train and motorway, this part is the end of the Pyrenean Mountains and materializes the border between France and Spain. Even if the area is French since 1659, the Spanish influence is everywhere. Don’t be surprised to listen to people speaking Catalan in the street as many locals still define themselves as Catalans people before being French citizens.

Enjoying this fantastic location between mountain and sea, this is also the sunniest part of France totalizing no less than 300 sunny days per year! Locals used to say you can spend Christmas time in your garden. One thing’s for sure, expect temperatures above 30° in June and August and a certain Mediterranean art de vivre.

But summer time is also the period where many music festivals take place all over the country and the choice is wide. Argeles’ charms are its landscapes. Imagine being in front of a 19th century castle in the middle of pine trees and vineyards, listening to some of the best pop rock bands under a deep blue sky. Sounds good isn’t it?

Copyright: Norman Jean Roy

Every summer, Les Deferlantes Festival takes place inside the park of Chateau Valmy, a beautiful Art Nouveau castle. Deferlante is the French for beachcombers and it suits well this festival which hosts during 4 days thousands of locals and tourists attracted by an amazing selection of French and international artists.

On two huge outdoor stages, artists start playing at the end of the afternoon, giving you a chance to enjoy the sunset with music in the background, until late in the evening. This year, the English pop crooner Mika charmed the public by singing in French. Like Mika, there were many artists to represent the English pop rock scene with the The Ting Tings, Metronomy, Charlie Winston, Franz Ferdinand, Noel Gallagher, Texas… But of course, the English man everybody was waiting for was Sting. The rock star, aged 61, offered a brilliant show interpreting some of his best hits solo and the ones he used to sing with The Police.

Copyright: Deferlantes Festival

Previous festivals have seen performances from Joe Cocker, ZZ Top or Iggy Pop. But if you are assured to see some accomplished artists at Les Deferlantes it is also the place to listen to upcoming bands from very different backgrounds and influences. Dyonisos’ singer, one of the craziest French bands at the moment, captivated the public by jumping in the crowd and a fountain before returning on stage to continue his performance. Benabar and Camille interpreting their latest songs proudly represented the new French scene and confirmed their popularity.

Whether you just want to relax on the beach or do some sports, the options here are almost endless with both water and mountain sports. Argeles has the longest beach in the department, a 7 km succession of wide sandy beaches and rocky creeks. Located after the harbor, Le Racou and Porteil beaches are perfect for scuba-diving and snorkeling. Close by, between Banyuls and Cerbere, don’t miss snorkeling in the natural marine reserve; a free multimedia path helps you discover Mediterranean fishes and fauna.

From town, many trails will take you along the coast or to the top of the mountains where the view down to the Vermilion Coast, a sequence of beaches and towns, is absolutely stunning. It is also very easy to reach Spain for a day trip and visit Cadaques, Dali’s favorite town, or doing some shopping in Figueras. By car it is only 25 km to the border and several companies propose boat tours from Argeles’ harbour.

Nothing would be easier than finding a place to stay in Argeles which is the European capital for camping. With 54 campsites ranging from cheap campsites attracting groups of students to 5 stars sites, many hotels and flat rentals, there is a solution for every budget. Of course, you can also directly book a room at the Chateau Valmy (from 190€ per night) and would just have to go down the park to enjoy the festival like a star!

Copyright: Alex Mayans

 

Les Deferlantes d’Argeles
Chateau de Valmy, 66700 Argeles-sur-Mer
Beginning of July, from 38€ (1-Day Pass) to 155€ (4-Day Pass)

Copyright: Deferlantes Festival

More information on the Festival’s website: www.lesdeferlantesdargelessurmer.com

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the author

Jessica Blanc is a freelance travel writer and photographer with a special interest in South America. She studied Art History in Paris, worked for the UN in London and lived in Brazil where she helps children in need through Children of Esperança, a charity she created. Always looking for new experiences anywhere in the world you can see more on her website.