Summary: Although this is primarily a musical instrument makers event, there's a lot of dancing opportunities.
Getting thereAccording to Google Maps, it's a 277 miles/4 hours 45 minutes drive from the ferry port at Caen. That's not as bad as you might think. French roads are straighter, less crowded and better maintained than UK roads. Driving in France is quite pleasant. Also, on the autoroutes, you are allowed to drive at 130km/hour (about 81mph) most of the way. If you avoid tolls, it takes another hour and the roads are similarly good, straight and uncongested
Food & DrinkJust outside the gate, there's a greengrocer who also sells cold cans and a nice sort of potato/cheese slice. Inside the festival, there are good number of food stalls selling salads, burgers, pizza, etc. The small town of Le Chatre is a couple of miles away has cafes and a Lidl
There are several bars on site
The Event/ProgrammeThe main large organised dances start at midnight and and feature well known Balfolk bands such as Bargainatt, Gregory Jolivet, etc. A wider mix of musicians play in the chateau courtyard for dances during the day and evening too. There's at least one dance workshop each day.
The real delight of this festival is the less formal dancing: There are 4 small dance floors set up around the site. There's nearly always musicians playing and people dancing on these during the day, evening and into the night. I went to bed as late as 0430 and people were still dancing. You will also find a lot of musicians sessions around the site and quite a few people dance at those too.
|The stage in the woods|
Although the core dancing is Balfolk, quite a lot of people experiment with other styles - not as a explicit event, they just throw in eclectic moves when they feel like it. Some of the bands play more unusual music too.
While there's plenty of people who can and will accept offers to dance the usual Balfolk stuff, there are a proportion who say "Je ne sais pas danser" ("I don't know how to dance") because they're at the event for the music/instruments/conferences/sales.
There's also a some concerts and meetings about instrument making as well as over 100 trade stands selling Hurdy Gurdies, Bagpipes and other instruments.
LanguageI walked through the car park one day counting number plates. Around 95% of the cars are from France and when you take into account some Swiss and Belgians, the first language really is French.
- Don't arrange to meet a friend on the main dance-floor, La Pommeraie. after midnight. It;s too big, crowded and dark for this to work reliably
- As there are several dance-floors, bars, hurdy-gurdy shops, etc. they are not particulalry good meeting points/landmarks. You might do better with the box office or instrument store as there's only one of those.
- Mobile coverage is seems OK but if you have any problems, use old-fashioned SMS/text rather than phone, Facebook or Messenger as it tends to work better if the network is struggling.
- This is a fairly laid-back festival. People will play loud instruments on the camp site during the day and evening. Take earplugs if you need to sleep during these times.
- I found the hot showers to be reliable
- Don't be put off by the "dry toilets". They're much better than you might expect. They occasionally smell