11 Unmissable European Music Festivals for Summer 2014

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If live music is on your wish-list of activities this year, there are some exceptional festivals to choose from. A dazzling array of global superstars awaits you, but you’ll first need to decide which of the many events taking place throughout Europe are for you. So, come with us as we take you on a European tour of music festivals that will help you to decide where to spend your precious leisure time this summer.

Isle of Wight Festival

With a line-up of previous performers that includes Bob Dylan, The Who, Hendrix, The Doors, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and more,  the Isle of Wight’s musical heritage takes some beating. Taking place over the weekend of 12th-15th June, 2014’s roster includes a number of contemporary musical heavyweights such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kings of Leon and more alongside a mix of equally enticing acts on the second stage.

Why not stay at… 

Palmers Brook House

Palmers Brook House

Why stay in a tent when you and up to 9 of your friends can enjoy the comfort of Palmers Brook House. This period Victorian house is set in a semi-rural location close to Newport, Ryde and East Cowes and offers a garden, farmhouse-style kitchen with gas/electric range, shower room, Wi-Fi and more!  Palmers House still has weekend availability for the festival. View more info and make a booking now.   

Sonar, Spain

This year is a very special one for Barcelona’s Sonar festival, as it’s the year the event celebrates its 21st Birthday. You will find an intriguing blend of music and arts at this sun-kissed festival, as well as the likes of Four Tet, Caribou and chart-topping band Rudimental. Take plenty of sun cream though, as the festivities take place between the 12th and 14th of June when the Spanish sun is at its hottest.

Main Square, France

If you’re looking for a laid-back festival where you can meet people, enjoy stunning architecture and find room to breathe, Main Square in the French city of Arras is ideal. There are only two stages at this event, but they will host around 40 acts this summer, including Disclosure, Depeche Mode and the Chemical Brothers. There is a personal and very friendly vibe to be found at this event, which makes it ideal if you’re not into mosh pits and drunken debauchery. As this event takes place in the city, you can swap your mud-soaked tent for a quaint cottage with lots of typically Gallic charm. The Main Square festival takes place between the 3rd and 6th of July this year.

Benicassim, Spain

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The beautiful port town of Benicassim is a sleepy Spanish settlement for most of the year, but it comes to life every July when music lovers arrive for four straight days of quality live music.

The event is probably best known for its alternative rock and electronic acts, but it has been known to host the odd rave or two in the past. The Benicassim festival takes place between the 17th and 20th of July this year, and the likes of Kasabian, Lily Allen and Paul Weller will be gracing the various stages.

Green Man Festival, Wales

Set against the majestic backdrop of the Brecon Beacons, the Green Man Festival is perhaps one of the most picturesque British music festivals. Folk music is the star of the show, but you will also get the chance to enjoy comedians, poetry recitals and book readings. The event takes place between the 14th and 17th of August this year, and amongst the line-up of bands already confirmed for the Green Man Festival are Beirut and The Violators.

Latitude, England

The gorgeous East Anglian countryside becomes an outdoor arena for four days in July when the Latitude festival sets up camp. This music festival has a very relaxed ambience, and it delivers far more than fantastic live acts. DJs perform in the depths of local woods, opera singers perform against the backdrop of a stunning natural lake, films play in an on-site cinema and actors recite Shakespeare and Wilde on various stages scattered around the Suffolk countryside. Latitude takes place between the 17th and 20th of July this year, and Blur’s Damon Albarn has been confirmed as the headline act.

Sonisphere, Italy

If you’re into heavy metal, the Sonisphere festival in Rome will definitely interest you. This hugely popular event takes place on 1st June, and more than 40,000 leather-clad hard rock fans are expected this year. Located at the home of the Italian Grand Prix in Imola, the festival will reach a deafening crescendo with a performance from legendary heavy metal band Metallica.

Festival Beauregard, France

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Set against the stunning natural landscapes of Normandy, the Festival Beauregard near Caen has to be one of the most impressive celebrations of live music in the world. This is a garden party for pop and rock fans on a huge scale, and it is taking place between the 3rd and 6th of July this year.

Don’t expect a quiet affair, however, as 55,000 fans showed up last year. A beautiful castle, rolling hills, landscaped gardens and some of the biggest artists on the planet make the Festival Beauregard one of the most prestigious live events in France. Among the confirmed artists for 2014 are Blondie, Portishead and Madness.

Hellfest, France

Located in the charming town of Champ Louet in France, Hellfest is a heavy metal fan’s paradise. Four stages host some of the biggest metal bands in the world, and 70,000 fans bang their heads in unison. This is a particularly rowdy event, however, so don’t be surprised if you see empty bottles and fruit being thrown at the stage, it’s all part of the fun. Headlining this year’s event between the 20th and 22nd of June are Iron Maiden, Aerosmith and Black Sabbath.

Midi, France

Midi is very popular with up and coming bands, and many of Europe’s finest found fame and fortune after appearing at this event in the stunning French Riviera. The location of this festival is probably its greatest asset, as it looks down over the French town of Hyeres and stunning stretches of coastline. With Chateau Vallombrossa as an eye-catching backdrop, there can’t be many European music festivals as picturesque as this one. Midi will take place on the 25th and 26th of July this year, and Europe’s freshest pop talent will be gracing the stage.

Global Gathering, England

Located in the beautiful Warwickshire countryside, Global Gathering is one of the fastest growing music festivals in Europe. A combination of enormous stages, booming sound systems and the biggest names in music has given this festival a reputation to rival the likes of Reading and Glastonbury. Hard house, dance and drum ‘n’ bass take centre stage, but unlike many other festivals in the UK, Global Gathering features an element of luxury in the form of private ‘Suitehuts’ – complete with TV, DVD player, fridge and a bed. The event takes place on the 26th and 27th of July this year, and head-liners include Plan B, Steve Aoki and Disclosure.

Wherever you decide to go this year, you don’t need to resign yourself to sleeping in a cold, muddy and damp tent. Rent a cottage or local holiday home instead, and enjoy live music with clean clothes and a clear head.

France and Italy’s Hidden Holiday Gems

We’re recommending a few lovely locations to see in France and Italy this year. Have you visited any of them? Share your experiences in the comments section below!

Manarola is a beautiful small town on the northern Italian coast. It boasts lovely trails, magnificent heritage and views like this!

Manarola is a beautiful small town on the northern Italian coast. It boasts lovely trails, magnificent heritage and views like this!

Le Palais Ideal in Hauterives, France. This extraordinary structure was built by stone from 1879 till 1912 by Ferdinand Cheval, the postman of the town.

Le Palais Ideal in Hauterives, France. This extraordinary structure was built by stone from 1879 till 1912 by Ferdinand Cheval, the postman of the town.

Tropea is one of Italy’s most beloved seaside towns. Located on the west coast of the Calabrian peninsula it offers beautiful beaches and a lovely ambience.

Tropea is one of Italy’s most beloved seaside towns. Located on the west coast of the Calabrian peninsula it offers beautiful beaches and a lovely ambience.

Les Jardins de Marqueyssac offer stunning views of Dordogne, beautiful walking trails and lovely ornate displays.

Les Jardins de Marqueyssac offer stunning views of Dordogne, beautiful walking trails and lovely ornate displays.

Étretat in Normandy is renowned for its beautiful cliffs, including three natural arches and the pointed "needle".

Étretat in Normandy is renowned for its beautiful cliffs, including three natural arches and the pointed “needle”.

Colmar is the third-largest commune of the Alsace region in France and is known for eight centuries of Germanic and French architecture and its beautifully bright Old Town.

Colmar is the third-largest commune of the Alsace region in France and is known for eight centuries of Germanic and French architecture and its beautifully bright Old Town.

 

 

 

 

 

Your Favourite French Regions

Mont St. Michel reflected in the sea at night

The Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel: one of the most iconic landmarks in France

France remains one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe and with good reason. This huge country offers a wide range of varied landscapes and holiday settings, added to that the lure of fine wine and food, and it is easy to see why France maintains its strong appeal. Whether you are looking for winter sports in the Alps, or summer sun in the Cote d’Azur, here at Cottages4you we have a huge selection of villas, gites and cottages across the length and breadth of this beautiful country to choose from. Here are some of our customer recommended French destinations for 2014.

Brittany

Brittany or ‘Bretagne’ on the North West corner of France shares many scenic characteristics with its cousins across the channel in Cornwall and Devon. Indeed, the historic Celtic heritage is shared with the British Isles the result of a legacy of a trading network going back centuries. The sheer proximity to the UK makes Brittany eminently accessible via Ferry and consequently one of the most popular destinations in the country. With such a large rugged coastline, the beaches here are the envy of Europe. Popular with surfers, the coastline is perfect for water-sports and walkers alike. The outdoor lifestyle reflects the laid back atmosphere in region fiercely proud of its history. The result is an ambiance distinctly ‘Bretagne’ in character, indeed many locals still retains this ancient language. Be sure to include Rennes, Saint-Malo and Auray on your ‘to do list’ on your next visit to Brittany.

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Amboise on the Loire River

Loire Valley

Known as the ‘Garden of France’, the Loire Valley for many represents the very essence of a French holiday. The patchwork scenery conjures images of vineyards and golden fields full of sunflowers, with the Loire River itself providing a timeless backdrop to beautiful chateaux across the region.  The favourable climate helps nurture grapes which produce some of the world’s finest and best known wines including Muscadet and Sancerre.  Set within the historic heart of France, the region retains much of its Medieval and Gothic architecture the source of inspiration for writers and poets across the ages.  Amongst the Loire highlights include the unforgettable Chartres, Bourges and of course Orleans, home to one of France’s most famous historic figures, Joan of Arc. With so many beautiful chateaux to choose from, visitors are spoilt for choice but the Renaissance castle at Chambord is one of the most impressive sights in France.

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Normandy

The expansive 400 mile coastline in Normandy will forever have its place in history and this year marks the 70th anniversary of the D-day landings, the turning point in the Second World War. In contrast to its rugged Bretagne neighbour, Normandy less exposed Channel coastline is gentler in comparison to Brittany with rolling greenery bordering long sandy beaches protected by dunes.  Perhaps the most beautiful landmarks on this delightful coast, is the spectacular Mont Saint-Michel.  This imposing island is dominated by its 8th century Abbey, a world heritage site that looks out across a stunning tidal vista. The view from the top of the Abbey is unforgettable, and at night when the castle is illuminated against the backdrop of the sea, you are left with a magical impression of truly one of the most iconic landmarks in France.

Pas-de-Calais

Visible from the white cliffs of Dover, the Pas-de-Calais lies a very short hop across ‘Le Manche’ for holidaymakers from Britain. Particularly popular in the 19th century as the coastal summer retreat of choice for ‘city weary’ Parisians, the region retains a strong cultural association to its Flemish neighbour. With its proximity to Belgium, much of the local architecture retains a strong Flemish influence, particularly amongst some of the region’s most beautiful cathedrals. Indeed, the Pas-de-Calais geographically retains the character of it ‘lowland’ neighbours, with large expanses of flatlands extending east towards the border with Belgium. Today the Pas-de-Calais renowned for its vibrant flavour typified by a general celebration of life reflected in the varied festivals throughout the year. Perhaps the best known of which is the ‘Dunkirk Carnival’, a lively series of events which will take place each weekend through February and March.

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Beynac-et-Cazenac

Dordogne and Lot

The seductive south west of France with its promise of summer warmth, culture and fine cuisine has all the ingredients for a perfect extended holiday in France. The departments of Dordogne and Lot have much in common, with beautiful countryside and both enjoying long hot summers and mild winters. For many the attraction of Dordogne revolves around its lush greenery and slow pace of life which in many ways represents an echo of France from another age. It is an image that has drawn Britain’s throughout the decades and indeed you may find echo’s from rural England too, as many have been so enchanted by the region that they have the Dordogne their home.  Be sure to enjoy the sumptuous local delicacies in the famed local markets that offer special artisan shopping experience a world away from all too familiar high street clones. Highlights include the caves at Lascaux, the gardens of Marqueyssac, the picturesque village of Loubressac and the Chateau de Bonaguil.

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We’re at The France Show 2014

The cottages4you team will be attending the France Show at Earls Court in London on 17th, 18th and 19th January.

Whether you’re an existing French holiday home owner who wants to enjoy a taste of France in the capital, or someone looking to start a letting business and want inspiration and advice, visit our stand (211) and chat with our expert team. You can also come along to one of our seminars, which cover all you need to know about buying in France.

Break up the day with cookery demonstrations from top French chef, Jean-Christophe Novelli and award-winning food writer Clotilde Dusoulier, listen to bestselling author Carol Drinkwater, sample fine wines and champagne, visit the French market, play a game of petanque and enjoy the live entertainment!

The France Show

Autumn Festivals in France

Paris

After the busy summer season, Autumn in France is a vibrant and magical time as the countryside becomes regaled in colour and people celebrate the best things in life with a range of festivals throughout the length and breadth of the country in the run up to Christmas. If you are looking to get away and enjoy the best of French culture and produce, this is a great excuse to cross the channel and enjoy a break in tandem with an Autumn festival in France.

Paris Autumn Festival (Festival de l’Automne) – September to December

Arguably the centre of culture in Europe and renowned for centuries as one of the artistic centres in the world, Paris is the venue for an Autumn festival from September through until December. This is major event encompassing theatre, film, music and visual arts attracting over 100, 000 people to watch artists from across the world. The festival takes place across high profile venues throughout the city including the Pompidou Centre , The National Opera  House and The Louvre!  This year will be the 41st festival and highlights include Japanese dancing theatre and a large representation of South African art with musicians, moviemakers, dancers and composers set to make a big impact at this year’s festival.

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Cider Festival, Le Sap, Normandy

As the Autumn months arrive in Normandy attention turns to harvesting the precious crop of apples to produce cider and calvados for which the region has been renowned for centuries. The ancient cider making craft is commemorated every year as a celebration of Norman history which has left a legacy of cider making through much of this part of France. Each year Le Sap plays host to a two day festival that showcases the best of Normandy’s cider and local cheeses. This year the celebration takes place on the 9th and 10th of November, offering visitors a taste of Normandy amidst a friendly and musical atmosphere.

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Beaujolais Nouveau Day

The perennial transition from summer to autumn also heralds perhaps the most anticipated harvest in France. The fresh grape crop signals the race to produce the first wine of the season, of course, the deliciously fruity Beaujolais Nouveau. The third Thursday in November is a special day for the French who are rightly proud of their wine making tradition and Beaujolais Nouveau day is marked by music, parties and fireworks across the country. Perhaps the most famous festival this auspicious event is Les Sarmentelles held each year in Beaujeu, essential the heart of the Beaujolais region. The celebration encompasses a wide range of the very youngest wines for visitors to sample. With a torch light parade in the evening and fireworks to follow, the wine is flowing well into the early hours.

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Tour de France Holidays – The Alps

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Just a few short weeks following Chris Froome’s victory in the Tour de France, we are all ready getting excited about next year’s race which starts in Yorkshire. This supreme test of human endurance is a prized national institution for the French, but recent success has cemented Britain’s reputation at the forefront of world cycling. First Sir Bradley Wiggins and now Chris Froome, it is possible that the current British domination is extended into the next few years – and it is the formidable aspect of the personal challenge for riders that is so enduring.

Apart from the physical examination of racing across much of France, the Tour is a mental test that creates fascinating personal struggles from stage to stage as riders pit their wits against the differing challenges that each stage demands. For many it is the ‘climbs’ through some of Europe’s most scenic mountain terrain that best exemplifies the challenge of the Tour. This year’s event was dominated by the extended mountain challenge, with riders ascending summit heights totalling 35,441 metres (bearing in mind that Everest sits at a mere 8,848 metres) nearly double the total of last year’s race. These historic mountains play host to some of the most dramatic moments in Tour history, and of course continue to fascinate fans drawn to the unique challenge of Alpine cycling.

It is against this backdrop that hardy British cycling fanatics seek to test themselves following the routes of their heroes through the epic French mountains. Without the small matter of actually racing this is an exciting challenge but is a great way to get the most out of an active holiday. Apart from the appeal of an area shrouded in sporting legend, the French Alps exude the epitome of pristine natural beauty. The physical height is matched with a sense of spiritual elevation born out of the proximity to heavens. Surveying the horizon it is very difficult to escape a feeling of awe at the raw power of nature. It is perhaps this separation from the everyday reality that is so appealing about cycling, a basic communion with the natural world.

Whilst few football fans will ever get to play at Wembley cycling fans can follow in the ‘tracks’ of the professionals which simply adds to the exhilaration of a cycling holiday in the Alps. For holidaymakers this type of adventure does not need to be daunting as many routes have professional guided tours through scenery that has stunningly lakes, glaciers and forests. The northern Alps offer some of the most popular climbs with Morzine to Alpe d’Huez a particular favourite amongst Tour enthusiasts. Picture yourself leading the peloton as you ascend to an unassailable lead in the Tour and become ‘King of the Mountains’!

Meanwhile back on Earth, and if you have the stamina, the route from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Grenoble includes one if the most challenging climbs in the shape of Col du Galibier one of the most revered in the Tour. This is a unique experience, which if you do not already have cycling in the blood will doubtless leave a lasting impression of an unforgettable holiday experiencing the essence of the mountain stages of the Tour de France.

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The France Show

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Calling all Francophiles! cottages4you will be returning to The France Show again this weekend.  The UK’s largest celebration of France and French living will take place from 18th-20th January 2013 at Earls Court, London.

This is a great opportunity to meet new and existing property owners or just come along for a chat. We look forward to seeing you at our stand, number 139.  You can also find us on the cottages4you Petanque pitch – the perfect opportunity to try your hand at this traditional French pastime and we welcome anyone who would like to take part to join us for a game of boules.

What’s more, anyone looking for impartial advice at the show is invited to attend our ‘Making Your Holiday Home Work Harder’ seminar in the French Property News theatre, taking place at 1pm each day of the show.

For more information, please contact Katie or Gemma by email press@lucre.co.uk or by calling 0113 243 1117.

Cottage of the Week – the annual 2012

As we start to wave goodbye to 2012 we thought we’d offer one last chance to look at the selection of featured cottages that we ran throughout the year…

Whether you’re looking for a cosy family retreat, a large manor house, villa, or just like the idea of staying in a windmill, we think your dream property is probably featured in this post.

Please leave us a comment below and let us know your favourite. In the meantime, we’re going to make plans to bring you a whole new year of stunning cottages!

Le Petit Troglo, Bourré, nr. Montrichard

Le Petit Paradis

Wonderful wildlife properties

ITV’s Holiday Home Sweet Home

Molly, Gennes, Maine-et-Loire

The White House

Promenade des Anglais

Sawmill Cottage

Casa Modica

River Lodge in Inverness

Bryn Tanat Hall

The Pump House

Seascape

La Fiones

Light Keepers House

Gatsby House

Rose Cottage

La Contadine

Villa 1

Camuscross

Leisure Hour

Shell Cottage

The Windmill

Apple, Cider and Orchard Cottage

The Lighthouse

The Old Bakery

Crwys Farm House

The Nursery at Ardbrecknish House

The Old Stables

Château de la Vauguyon

Cottage of the Week – Molly, Gennes, Maine-et-Loire

At cottages4you we sometimes find historic holiday hideaways that have been modified to favour contemporary comfort within their period surrounds. Then sometimes we find properties where so much effort has gone into preserving history that stopping to admire the unrivalled authenticity can make you wish for a few modern furnishings. We’re partial to both styles, but we truly love properties like Molly which offer a fantastic window to the past whilst also boasting a wealth of wonderful comfort.

Not that there’s much that’s typical about this 16th century former dependant of the adjoining château. Whilst every effort has been made to restore and furnish this elegant French country style property, an equal amount of effort has been made to preserve its traditional elements. What you’re left with is, basically, a wonderful holiday property and the building blocks of many a wonderful holiday tale for those lucky enough the stay there.

Molly is filled with surprises. Many original features have been retained including the flower-decked private cobbled passageway and stone stairways at the rear of the house. A terrace at the front of the holiday home provides the perfect location for alfresco meals or a glass of local wine – not to mention the perfect place to watch the world go by in this tranquil part of the Loire Region. Despite these wonderful discoveries, the most immediate surprise of a holiday at Molly is how affordable it is: 7 nights in June can be enjoyed for approximately £25 per person per night with four paying adults.

With such affordable rates there really is no excuse not to get out and about and explore your surroundings. After all, what is a castle without a kingdom? The local town of Gennes is just a short distance away. Set on the River Loire, it provides most amenities, whilst the historic château towns of Angers and Saumur are a short drive and will, if anything, only reinforce the unique historical ambience of your holiday.

To think that we can explain all of Molly’s charms in a blog post is to do the property a great disservice. While the lovely accompanying photos go a great way to conveying the abundance of historical beauty, the best way to appreciate its charms is to book a break and experience it for yourself. We’re sure a few of you are happy to hear this – and more than a few more of you will hopefully be lucky enough to experience it for yourselves.

If you aspire to live like a king in the Loire Region of France please take a look at the property listing on cottages4you and be sure to send us a postcard! We’ll be back next week with another fantastic Cottage of the Week. We suspect we may have our work cut out for us…

British Travel Award winners 2012

The British Travel Awards is the UK’s largest consumer voted travel awards programme with over 75 different categories all voted for by consumers. So as you might imagine we were delighted to be nominated in the Best Villa/Self Catering Booking Company a few weeks ago – and even more delighted to win it last week.

At cottages4you we strive to offer the best service, the best accommodation and the best prices and we’re delighted that so many of our customers agree with our approach. This award really is the ultimate accolade and we’re really happy to accept it on behalf of all our supporters. But don’t worry we’re not going to rest on our laurels! We’re going to spend the remainder of the year proving that we earned it and we’ll see you back in 2013 with news of next year’s event.

Until then we’d like to say a great big thank you to all of you who voted or have holidayed with us in the past or are looking forward to a cottages4you break in the future.