Hazot On Saint-Cloud Nine

Salomon Hazot’s fourth Rock En Seine deepened Paris’s footprint on the European festival map by pulling 28,000 per day to the beautiful suburban parkland at Saint-Cloud.

With Morrissey and Radiohead, the headliners from the previous weekend’s U.K. V Festivals, topping his two-day bill August 25-26, Hazot firmly established the capital’s rival to the half-dozen or so provincials that make up the French outdoor market.

“It is so easy because you only have to step on the tube and take a quick journey to the outskirts of Paris,” Hazot explained after – somehow appropriately – The Rakes and The Raconteurs played across the same Domaine National de Saint-Cloud grounds where Emperor Napoleon allegedly walked his favorite ladies.

The site’s about a 20-minute drive from the horse racing track at Saint-Cloud and wrapped in protection orders on account of the varieties of rare trees it has, rather than for what Napoleon may have done behind them.

What pleases Hazot most is the number of fans coming in from the provinces – a little more than one-third of the crowd – and the fact that Rock En Seine is already attracting visitors from the surrounding countries.

Most of the 2,000 camping berths available this year were quickly snapped up by buyers from United Kingdom, Spain, Holland and Belgium.

Mindful that the U.K. media – particularly in the case of Spain’s Benicassim – can help a festival build a certain international cache, he’s encouraged to see that about 7.25 percent of his crowd is Europeans stopping over in tents.

Hazot said he believes that number will increase to show he’s building a European festival in Paris, rather than just a Parisian one.

Opening on the eve of the U.K.’s Carling Weekend, Hazot is also able to offer a Friday to acts heading over to Reading and Leeds for Saturday and Sunday shows.

Within three years, The White Stripes, Pixies, Foo Fighters, Sonic Youth, Massive Attack, Arcade Fire, Beck, Franz Ferdinand, and Queens of The Stone Age had all played Rock En Seine.

Among those adding their names to that list August 25-26 were Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, The Dead 60’s, Calexico, Dirty Pretty Things, Editors, Broken Social Scene, and Wolfmother.

– John Gammon