The Good Life France Magazine

The Good Life France Magazine brings you the best of France - inspirational and exclusive features, fabulous photos, mouth-watering recipes, tips, guides, ideas and much more...

Published by the award winning team at The Good Life France

1 year ago

Issue No. 15

Discover the Drome, Nyons - the last Provencal frontier, Charente-Maritime, Burgundy, Paris gastronomy, Nice, secret Provence, recipes, a whole lot more. It's the next best thing to being in France...

Jazz in Marciac ©

Jazz in Marciac © Francis Vernhet Peter Jones waxes lyrical... Tucked away in the small valleys of the Gers in south west France is the classic bastide town of Marciac. It’s not huge, it has a population of around 1300. The town is dominated by a central village square whose town hall is its main feature, lined with shops and cafés. But one thing makes Marciac unique amongst the many bastide towns of France and that is Jazz. Back in 1978 a small group of friends led by school teacher Jean-Louis Guilhaumon started a small jazz festival. Nearly 40 years later, it has become one of the most important jazz festivals in the world. More than 250,000 people visit the Marciac Jazz Festival and 65,000 attend concerts in the Chapiteau (a huge marquee) erected on the town’s rugby pitch. It’s here that not just some, but nearly all of the biggest names in Jazz have played over those 40 years. The highlight of the 2016 festival for many people was a performance by the legendary Ahmad Jamal. At 86 years old he came out of retirement to play his only concert in the world that year. What, I asked, bought him to play his music in a little bastide town in Gascony, “when Jean - Louis asks, you say yes, he is a very special man” he said, and smiled. One time school teacher Jean-Louis Guilhaumon is now mayor of Marciac and President of the Marciac Jazz festival. He is also Vice-President of the regional council of the Midi-Pyrenees. He is immensely proud that the college he taught at, now has Jazz on the curriculum. 20 pupils from the area have gone on to be professional musicians and the town has a permanent concert venue, the very modern 500 seat L’Astrada , which hosts music, theatre and dance throughout the year.

Music is everywhere when the festival is on. Every bar, street corner and alleyway has musicians playing their hearts out. The square is one huge free festival, vibrant, exciting and great for the trip jazz fan or not. Over the years, luminaries such as Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Nina Simone and Ray Charles have played Marciac. But Marciac is not just a town for the jazz festival, it is worth visiting anytime in the year. The Jazz Museum Les Territoires du Jazz is also well worth a visit as are the local Armagnac vineyards and those of Plaimont wine growers where you can even sponsor a vine named after a jazz musician! Website: Les Teritoires du Jazz Museum See next page for more jazzy festivals in France... information Jazz in Marciac 2017 has a whole raft of international names lined up and this is one event that any music and jazz lover will not want to miss: Norah Jones George Benson Herbie Hancock Didier Lockwood Manu Dibango And many more of the world’s best jazz musicians are set to thrill in the sun from July 28 – August 15. Details: Practical stuff: Reserve tickets before you go : The tourist office has details for accommodation in the area:

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