Marciac is a Gascon bastide village that dates to the end of the 13th Century, set among the sunflowers and cornfields of the Gers. Despite its petite size it has a global reputation thanks to the famous jazz festival that takes place each year pulling in almost quarter of a million visitors. To a town with barely more than 1000 residents, that’s an incredible number.
Marciac Jazz Festival 2017
Celebrating its 40th year, the Jazz in Marciac festival has an even larger array of international jazz musicians on the bill than usual. Norah Jones is headlining, with Herbie Hancock, Ibrahim Maalouf, George Benson, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Chucho Valdès, Stanley Clarke, Richard Galliano, Didier Lockwood and Roberto Fonseca among the many other artists who come back time and time again. Last year, Jamie Cullum played for the third time and tore the roof off!
There are around 225,000 visitors during the 20-day festival. The event is the highlight and focus of the year for this village in the heart of D’Artagnan country. From the last weekend of July until the 25th of August, every door, garage, barn or window that opens onto the streets becomes a gallery, restaurant, artisan workshop, or local produce stand. Visitors come from all over France, as well as Europe and the USA.
Each year a huge marquee seating more than 5,500 is constructed on the rugby club grounds to house the main concerts. Hundreds of young people register as ‘bénévoles’ (volunteers) and help the whole event to run smoothly. They collect tickets, usher people to their seats, drive artists back and forth, translate, blog and man the toilet blocks set up throughout the village.
Artists and artisans at Marciac Jazz Festival
Renowned artist, Perry Taylor, is among the many creative souls who sets up a gallery each year during the 3-week festival. His humorous drawings of life in South West France are appreciated by the jazz lovers as is the cool air of the old barn where he hangs his art. You’ll find it just off the main square (rue des Cinq Parts) and it’s a welcome break from the heat and the bustle of the festival. Last year, the gallery had 10,000 visitors.
Perry’s drawings focus on life in the Gers, jazz, regional cuisine, rugby, hunting and all things ‘Gascon’. His gallery is full of originals, prints, greeting cards and his two books of collected drawings. For 2017 Perry has invited ‘upcycling’ sculptor, Yannick Beslot to join him in the gallery, with his recycled musical instruments and spare parts.
Website for perrytaylor
Jazz in Marciac 2017 is from 28 July until 25 August.
Nearest airports, Toulouse, Tarbes-Lourdes, Pau and Bordeaux,
For tickets and information: www.jazzinmarciac.com