Festival Fuss: Rock en Seine in Paris
Gorge on booze and indie rock at Paris' three-day music extravaganza—Rock en Seine
What do Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Massive Attack, Pixies and Tame Impala all have in common? They’ve all played Paris’ Rock en Seine. As you can imagine, Lisa Krüger-Franke—a festival-head from Munich, Germany—wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to see some of her favorite bands play in the heart of Paris. In the interview below, Lisa shares her epic festival experience as well as tips on what NOT to do at Rock en Seine.
What is Rock en Seine and what’s the general vibe like?
Rock en Seine is a three-day rock music festival in Paris, which will be held this year Aug. 25-27. This year’s lineup includes performances by The XX, PJ Harvey, Flume, Franz Ferdinand, Cypress Hill, At The Drive In, The Kills and more.
Because of its location within the actual city of Paris, it attracts a lot of different people—those who are very passionate about festivals, those that love live music but are not that keen about camping (and everything else that’s involved in going to a large-scale festival) and those who just go because it’s convenient. That convenience factor and easy-going attitude were reflected in the overall vibe of the festival. Rock en Seine is very relaxed, but sometimes I missed “the passion” during the concerts. Some people were just standing around watching, without dancing or swaying to the music whatsoever. And then you have me, an absolute music-lover—I wouldn’t even be able to stand still if you paid me.
What were the stand-out highlights of your experience?
Quite simply, we woke up and had breakfast with a view of the Eiffel Tower and enjoyed sunny, warm weather every day—it was just perfect. And then live music on top of that—nothing beats that. My favorite performances were John Butler Trio, Alt-J and Marina and the Diamonds.
The cuisine at the festival was very diverse as well. Rock en Seine featured food stalls from all over the world. My favorite was a sandwich filled with melted cheese, mushrooms and ham. DELICIOUS <3
If you are vegetarian, you have to plan ahead though. It’s hard to find vegetarian options on the festival grounds.
How much does the Rock en Seine festival experience cost?
The ticket for the festival cost 120€ [approximately $128]. We decided to camp and paid 90€ [approximately $96] for two people, which included breakfast. You can either book camping for two or four people, and the festival organizers give you the exact space for a two- or a four-person tent. So don’t bring any extra gear, such as a canopy or a really large tent, since you won’t have the space to put it up.
Our other friend decided to stay in the city with one of her friends. Airbnb would be a great way to do it as well.
What advice do you have for first-time travelers?
My main piece of advice: Don’t even try bringing alcohol into the festival. They won’t let you through, and it’s a waste of time to walk from your campsite and back with all the day’s booze. So, make sure you have a lot alcohol stored in your tent and plan on getting a bit tipsy before you head into the festival. Because if you tried to get drunk within the festival grounds, you will spend a shitload of money.
Also, pack lightly if you plan on camping because the walk up is very steep and exhausting (you’ll be carrying alcohol, a tent, food and all your clothes). There’s a supermarket closeby, which obviously doesn’t have enough alcohol in stock for everyone. If you go there early enough, however, you’ll find some good food options and maybe one or two types of beer.
Where did you fly into to get to the festival? And how did you get from point A to B once you arrived?
I flew into Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport and then met my friends at the Gare de Paris-Est train station. From there, it took us approximately 30 minutes by metro to Pont de St Cloud. From the Pont de St Cloud station, it was a 10-minute walk to the festival grounds. If you’re a camper (like we were), expect to walk another 20 minutes uphill from there. This trek with all our gear was truly awful considering it was one of the hottest days of the year at 35 degrees Celsius [95 degrees Farenheit].
What are some tips on saving money when at the festival?
Be sure to bring back your cups whenever you get a drink. There’s a deposit on it. I know it’s hard when you are drunk or in the mood, but just put it in your bag when you’re done. It will save you lots of money throughout the weekend.
And when it comes to food, bring some snacks to the festival so you have something to munch on between sets. Plan on purchasing only one meal a day. At least that's what we did.
I gotta be honest, however. Whenever I attend a festival, I try not to think about the money I spend. I know it’s an expensive thing to do, but I just love the atmosphere and the live music so much that it’s always worth it in the end.