29 Best Performing Arts Venues in Provence, France

Festival d'Avignon

Fodor's choice

Founded in 1947, this is the oldest theater festival in France and one of the biggest in the world. It takes place over three weeks in July and features more than 1,500 performances held in venues throughout the city. The Off Festival ( www.festivaloffavignon.com), which is held simultaneously, is less formal and highlights productions by smaller, more experimental companies.

La Manutention

Fodor's choice

This hip cultural complex, on a picturesque cobbled street just behind the Palais des Papes, includes the Utopia–La Manutention movie theater, a well-regarded restaurant, the AJMI jazz club, and a relaxed bar that's popular even with those not seeing a show. Its location in front of the Avignon School of the Arts and its eclectic style—a mix of antique and contemporary touches—make it a big draw for the town's artsy crowd.

Antibes Art Fair

At this antique and modern art fair, held for two weeks in April, some 20,000 people from all over the world come to view the treasures and pick up a little something for back home.

Recommended Fodor's Video

Association du Méjan

Housed in the beautiful Chapelle St-Martin du Méjan, this arts organization hosts a year-round program of classical and sacred music; a revolving series of exhibitions featuring painting, sculpture, and photography; and the superb Arles Jazz Festival, held every year in May.

Badaboum Théâtre

Vieux Port

At Badaboum, adventurous, accessible productions for children are performed.

Cinéma Utopia–La Manutention

This theater shows hard-to-find international independent works. There's another location on Rue Figuière.

Cinémas Actes Sud

Run by a large publishing house, this arts complex has a first-rate movie theater.

Espace Julien


Rock, pop, jazz, and reggae concerts, along with the occasional comedy and alternative theater performance, are held here.

Festival A-Part

Starting late July, this Alpilles-wide contemporary arts festival fills nearly 15 venues in several towns, most prominently in St-Rémy. It aims to promote a diversity of disciplines and encourages exchange between artists and audience.

Festival d'Aix

In late June and July, opera and music lovers descend on Aix to see world-class opera productions in the courtyard of the Palais de l'Archevêché and other of the city's most beautiful venues. The repertoire at this internationally acclaimed festival is varied and often offbeat, featuring works like Britten's Curlew River and Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle as well as the usual Mozart, Puccini, and Verdi. Most of the singers, however, are not celebrities, but rather an elite group of students who spend the summer with the Academie Européenne de Musique, training and performing under the tutelage of stars like Robert Tear and Yo-Yo Ma.

Festival d’Aix-en-Provence

Every July, you can see world-class productions in the courtyard of the Palais de l'Archevêché during one of Europe's most important opera festivals. The repertoire is varied and often offbeat, featuring works like Britten's Curlew River and Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle as well as the usual Mozart, Puccini, and Verdi. Most of the singers are not celebrities but rather elite students who spend the summer with the Académie Européenne de Musique, training and performing under the tutelage of stars like Robert Tear and Yo-Yo Ma. Buy tickets online beginning in January.

Festival d’Avignon

Held annually over three weeks in July, the Festival d’Avignon has brought the best of world theater to this ancient city since 1947. Avignon's version of fringe, the OFF Festival ( www.festivaloffavignon.com) is staged at the same time. The two combined host more than 1,600 performances, with the main venue being the Palais des Papes. Tickets go on sale around mid-June and sell out quickly.

Fête de la Lavande

This daylong festival, usually held around August 15, is dedicated entirely to lavender. Village folk dress in traditional Provençal garb and parade on bicycles; horses leap over barrels of fragrant bundles of hay; and local producers display their wares at the market. It all culminates in a countryside lunch. 


For information on events and tickets, stop at this massive book-and-record chain.

Grand Théâtre de Provence

Jessye Norman inaugurated this contemporary 1,350-seat concert hall in 2007 and it has since matured into the city's primary year-round venue for world-class musical performances of all kinds and for all audiences, including classical, opera, recitals, jazz, and world music. It is also a major host of the Festival d'Aix.

International Cannes Fireworks Festival

On various nights in July and August, six countries compete in an amazing 25-minute musical fireworks display that lights up both the water and the sky. The fireworks are set off from barges 400 meters offshore from the Baie of Cannes. You can watch beachside for free among the masses of locals who come early.

Le Ballet Preljocaj

Angelin Preljocaj has created original productions for the New York City Ballet and the Paris Opera Ballet, and his modern-dance troupe, Ballet Preljocaj, is based at the monolithic Pavillon Noir, designed by architect Rudy Ricciotti. From September through May, the Pavillon hosts contemporary ballet and modern dance performances featuring an international roster. Note that admission to the 6 pm rehearsals is free.

530 av. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Aix-en-Provence, 13627, France

Le Silo

La Canebière

This venue in a modern, waterfront building hosts classical and contemporary concerts, as well as theater productions and dance performances.

Les Chorégies d'Orange

To witness the torches of Nabucco or Aïda flickering against the 2,000-year-old Roman wall of the Théâtre Antique and to hear the extraordinary sound play around its semicircle of ancient seats is one of the great summer festival experiences in Europe. Every July, Les Chorégies d'Orange echo tradition and amass operatic and classical music spectacles under the summer stars in Orange. Be sure to book tickets well in advance; they go on sale in October.

Les Rencontres d’Arles

In July, movers and shakers in international photography gather at the Théâtre Antique for five days of specialized colloquiums and other events. Ordinary folks can take in 35 exhibitions of mostly unpublished work that are held in various heritage sites throughout town from July to September. Tickets, which range from €5.50 for a single entry to €37 for a pass, can be purchased online or from various locations in Arles, including the festival office. The app is super helpful.

Nice Carnaval

During the two weeks leading up to Mardi Gras and Lent, the Niçois let loose in disguise during this carnival, which attracts roughly 250,000 visitors. The parades in Place Masséna include €30,000 floats made up of some 80,000 flowers, dancers of varying levels of expertise and enthusiasm, more than 1,600 musicians, and face-painting stands for kids. For the best view, it's worth investing in tickets (book seats online, up to €32, standing-room from €10). The main event also incorporates Lou Queernaval, the first Gay Carnival Parade in France (free).

Opera de Toulon

At Place Victor Hugo, the Opera de Toulon hosts theater, opera, and dance productions.

Opéra Municipal de Marseille

Vieux Port

Operas and orchestral concerts are held at the Opéra Municipal.

Opéra-Théâtre d'Avignon

This theater proves that culture and the arts are not limited to festival season, with a year-round schedule that ranges from classical concerts, ballet, and opera to Broadway musicals.


These movie theaters both show some films in v.o. (version originale, i.e., not dubbed).

24 cours Mirabeau, Aix-en-Provence, 13100, France

Théâtre Massalia

La Canebière

A young audience thrills to entertainment with puppets, dance, and music—occasionally in English. It's by the Gare St-Charles.

Théâtre National de Marseille La Criée

Vieux Port

A strong repertoire of classical and contemporary works is performed here.

Voiles d’Antibes

In the first week of June, the Match Race regatta sets sail across 23 km (14 miles) of coastline. The event marks the official opening of the classic yachting season, with other regattas in Cannes and St-Tropez in September, and features beautiful old teak and brass sailing vessels, metric classes, and maxi-cruisers more than 20 meters long.