When a close friend asked me to go on a last minute sojourn to the seaside Jazz à Juan festival in Antibes, it didn’t take me very long to say yes. And I’m so glad I did. Said to be the oldest jazz festival in Europe where jazz history has been made, it had an unbelievably spectacular setting – overlooking the Mediterranean, boats bobbing in the bay on a warm summer’s evening and then, as night falls, a fireworks display in the distance making it all the more magical.
Over the years, many greats have played at this festival including Diana Krall, Al Jarreau and even Santana. I was lucky enough to watch Tom Jones (strutting his stuff on stage), along with Buddy Guy and Johnny Gallagher. Sting, Macy Gray, Anoushka Shankar and Gregory Porter were set to play later on in the week.
It was a melee of young and old in the audience, many who had flown in from Holland, Italy and Russia. All sipping champagne in plastic flutes nonetheless!
We made a weekend of it, spending a day at the beach (Plage Keller), idly watching the yachts come and go, and visiting the Picasso museum (an absolute must-do). Lunch was spectacular at Le Cesar, with sea bream baked in salt (known as daurade) and the most delicate burrata served on a bed of luscious tomatoes. Of course, accompanied by a bottle of fabulous wine specifically from that region!
(Jazz à Juan is held every year in July)
By Diane Bilimoria, London