/ languages

Choisir langue

Eco-rock in a hidden corner of France

by Judith Prescott

Article published on the 2008-09-05 Latest update 2008-09-16 11:59 TU

The festival's poster with the wild boar symbol of the Ardennes

The festival's poster with the wild boar symbol of the Ardennes

Le Cabaret Vert rock festival's mix of music and the environment attracted thousands of visitors over last weekend of August. Over the last four years, the rock festival has gone from strength to strength and become one of the 'must-see' events of the festival calender.

Culture: Eco rock Festival, Le Cabaret Vert


Charleville Mezieres in the Ardennes region of France is best-known as the birthplace of the19th century poet Arthur Rimbaud. But four years ago, a group of young people set out to give the region a newer, fresher image.

They came up with the idea of creating a rock music festival with an ecological slant which they hoped would eventually become recognised on a national scale. Julian Sauvage, director of Le Cabaret Vert, says the success of the festival has surprised them all.

 "We wanted to organise a rock festival because we wanted something that was aimed at young people and we wanted to showcase the best of the current music scene", he explains. "We never intended to become one of the biggest festivals in France, but that is what is happening. We had 10,000 visitors for the first festival four years ago. This year we've sold 35,000 tickets."

Franco-American band Beat AssailantEmeute Visuelle

Franco-American band Beat Assailant
Emeute Visuelle

Sauvage admits is not the bands that pull in the crowds. Of the artists booked to play, ten are local bands, ten are "new discovery" and ten are headline bands such as hip-hop, jazz group Beat Assailant and Serb film director Emir Kusterica's band the No Smoking Orchestra. Sauvage says they are not hugely well-known artists and puts the success of the festival down to the identity the organisers have managed to create.

"We've linked the festival to a well-known local figure." he says. "Le Cabaret Vert is a poem by Arthur Rimbaud and we felt the word cabaret evoked an intimate atmosphere. The awareness of Green issues is something we wanted to emphasise as it seems to strike a chord with young people. We are now one of the largest environmental festivals in France"

Evidence of the festival's environmental credentials are everywhere. There are hundreds of recycling bins dotted around the festival site and a large tent houses stalls manned by a dozen ecological associations. The food and drink on sale is mainly organic and a roped-off area - of a dubious level of hygene - encourages everyone to wash their own plates and cutlery in the same basin to save water.

Sauvage says it's still to early to say whether Le Cabaret Vert has succeeded in changing the image of the economically depressed Ardennes region.

"We are constantly changing things," he says. "When we started we had no idea what we were doing and we've gradually learned from our mistakes. The festival is beginning to gain a reputation on a national scale and because of this I think the image of the region is gradually changing."

Sauvage is realistic about how much can be achieved with just one rock festival once a year, but is optimistic that Le Cabaret Vert is well on the way to becoming a fixture of the summer music festival scene here in France.


<em>Skull with Butterflies</em>, by Philippe Pasqua(© J. Brunelle/Adagp, Paris 2010)

Cracking skulls!

Fascination with death reaches new heights in an exhibition guaranteed to make you touch your head and feel thankful it is not made out of colouring crayons, or flies!

2010-02-15 12:35 TU

(Photo: Paris, ville rayonnante)

France's gothic avant-garde

A new show reveals an avant-garde Paris in the 13th century creating “total art” that spread from architecture to all art forms and went on to conquer much of Europe.

2010-02-13 15:16 TU

Poster for <em>Sons d'Hiver</em>

Winter sounds warm up French jazz fans

A tribute to trumpeter Don Cherry at a Free Jazz showcase festival outside of Paris.

2010-01-31 11:55 TU

Jane Allan performing in Paris(Photo: Christophe Bailleul)

Trance on a trapeze

Ever thought of running away with the circus? The mere idea sounds almost 19th century now, but the art of the circus is alive and well.

2010-01-30 12:41 TU

Retro Mobile - classic car exhibition

The rusty 1925 Bugatti Brescia Type-22

260,500 euros for rusty old car found at bottom of lake

A rusty old Bugatti, which spent years at the bottom of a Swiss lake, sold for 260,500 euros at the Retro Mobile classic car exhibition on Saturday. Other more lovingly-restored pristine examples are exciting enthusiasts from across the world in a special anniversary event at Porte de Versailles in Paris.

2010-01-23 20:21 TU

(Photo: Dirk Lenis)

France's changing face looks east

Since its ethnically diverse team won a famous World Cup victory 11 years ago, France has tried to change its image at home and abroad.  Bonjour India presents a multicultural French-speaking world to south Asians.

2010-01-22 16:17 TU

Isadora Duncan, from Elisabeth Kapnist's film(Photo: JIFA/DR)

Putting art on film

International films about art converge in Paris for a festival at the Louvre from 20-24 January.

2010-01-20 13:09 TU

(Photo: Rosslyn Hyams)

What sex is a coffee bean, where does the aubergine come from?

Where were eggplants first grown? And what about quinces and clementines. A new book traces the journey of fruit and veg from their countries of origin to our plates.

2010-01-08 16:08 TU

Robin Guthrie in St Petersburg 2008 (Photo:

Cocteau Twin flying solo

In the 1980s and 90s, Robin Guthrie was the guitarist whose rippling layers of sound formed a pivotal part of the sound of the British band, the Cocteau Twins. His most recent solo work Songs to Help My Children Sleep was released in November.

2010-01-06 16:43 TU

A scene from Nord by Rune Denstad Langlo

A taste of Nordic filmmaking in Paris

Ciné Nordica 2009 at Paris’s Panthéon cinema showcases filmmaking from Scandinavia. So what makes Nordic film different from the rest?

2009-12-22 17:15 TU