History & Culture

Discover France’s Music World

Did you know that France has been the epicentre for some of the music industry’s most famous albums? Hop in and join us on our French musical journey.

France is home to more than just sublime cheese and fairy tale castles. It has, for years, been the home of some of the most famous albums and musicians in the world. Find out where you can travel to be in the heart of musical history.

When we think of iconic studios, our minds usually go to Sun Studio in Memphis, where the greats like Elvis and Johnny Cash recorded their iconic songs, or Abbey Road in London, made famous by The Beatles. But, what about in France?

Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main St, recorded in Villefranche-sur-Mer

11 hours, 11-minutes from Calais


Villefranche-sur-Mer is a beautiful Riviera fishing village, and the home of one of the greatest albums ever made

This has been widely regarded as not only one of the Rolling Stones’ best albums, but one of the greatest albums ever recorded. The band created the album in three studios: Olympic Studios in London, Sunset Sound Recorders in Los Angeles, and Nellcôte in Keith Richard’s rented mansion in Villefranche-sur-Mer, France.

Situated next to Nice on the French Riviera, Villefranche-sur-Mer is a fishing village, with multi-coloured houses stacked up against the crystal blue sea. Take time to get lost in its intricately small streets, climbing the staircases to catch a glimpse of the sparkling sea.

Its musical history notwithstanding, the town has existed since the 14th Century. So, it’s perfect for anyone wanting embrace by French history, all while achieving a tan under the golden Riviera sun.

Château d'Hérouville

3 hours, 19-minutes from Calais

Château d'Hérouville

Château d'Hérouville in quiet village Hérouville is an iconic home of musical history

A place where all music fans need to visit, Château d'Hérouville is where some of the last century’s definitive albums and singles were recorded. Known as the ‘Honky Château’, from this 17th Century mansion, David Bowie’s Pin Ups and Low, Iggy Pop’s The Idiot, Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Bee Gee’s iconic singles ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ and ‘Stayin’ Alive’ from their seminal album Saturday Night Fever were recorded here.

It’s not just great music that reverberated off the walls here. It was painted by Vincent van Gogh, who’s buried in the area, so when you visit, make sure you make a trip to his grave.

Despite the fact that some of the greatest musicians who ever lived roamed its halls, in 1985 the headphones were hung up, the decks stopped spinning and the château’s ghosts could finally rest. The spirits that had watched these musicians from the corners certainly didn’t want them to rest though; Brian Eno was reportedly woken every morning by a mysterious entity shaking his shoulder.

Even though it’s no longer the great recording studio it once was, music fans should still visit the area. It’s not a particularly touristy area of France, so it’s ideal if you want to be immersed in French culture. Visit nearby historic towns, such as L'Isle-Adam, or La Roche-Guyon with its famous hill-top castle.

Avignon, Birthplace of Olivier Messiaen and Festival d’Avignon

8 hours, 47-minutes from Calais

Festival d’Avignon

Festival d’Avignon is the perfect trip for anyone who loves arts, culture and theatre!

The French composer Olivier Messiaen, known for his love of birdsong and intricate scores, couldn’t have been born in a more apt place. Avignon is also home to the Festival d’Avignon, which is a celebration of theatre, art and all things creative. It takes up most of July, and is ideal for anyone with a love of the arts.

So, Wild Horses won’t get you to France, but Eurotunnel will! It only takes 35 minutes from Folkestone to Calais, so grab your guitar and Shine A (Head) Light towards France!