21 July 29 July 2024



The meeting of classical and popular music

Thanks to the festival A Violin on the Sand, created by Philippe Tranchet in 1987, the classical and lyrical music repertoire descends each year on the Grande Conche beach in Royan. It comes to meet some 60 spectators, music lovers or novices. A musical event to which the French singer Jean-Jacques Goldman is indirectly linked.

Violin on sand on the Grande Conche de Royan

The great composers inspire their melodies from innumerable standards of jazz, variety or rock, from the Beatles to the Doors and Procol Harum. In France, from the mid-1960s, it was Gainsbourg who became the champion of the genre. He updates a few notes of a famous symphonic movement by Dvorak in his song “Initials BB”. Three years earlier, he had transformed a Beethoven sonata into a “Wax doll, sound doll”.

This desire to open bridges between classical works and popular music is one of the principles that feeds the spirit of the festival "Un Violon sur le Sable", initiated by the Royannais Philippe Tranchet in 1987. During the first edition, the organizer also called on a soloist from the Paris Opera, Patrice Mondon. This one made some forays into the pop-rock universe with his string instrument. He has notably worked alongside Jean-Jacques Goldman of which he interpreted the "bridge" in Slavic tones on the famous song "Comme toi".

CHF. photography
Musicians and conductor at the Violon sur le Sable

A single violin on the sand in 1987

The meeting between the two men took place a few years earlier in the studio of the Royan Frequency radio station, also created by Philippe Tranchet. The singer then agrees to sponsor the new station. He then goes to Royan accompanied by his favorite violinist. The bond forged during this meeting allows Philippe Tranchet to make a somewhat crazy dream come true. He desires broadcast live a concert on the airwaves of Royan Frequency from the Grande Conche. The project was born in the summer of 1987.

The name of Patrice Mondon thus naturally imposes itself in his mind to constitute the one night headliner on Royan beach. Feet in the sand, dressed in a tail coat, the violinist plays, accompanied by the flow of the waves. The incredible alchemy is thus a date. The technical prowess fascinated the listeners of the time. They then head for the seafront with a transistor screwed to their ears. They thus verify that the concert organized on the shore is indeed the "live" broadcast.

30 years later, more than 70 musicians at the Royan Festival

It was a challenge to put a Stradivarius in opposition to its worst enemies, the sand, the wind, the salt, the tide.

From 1988, the experience was renewed, with the approval of the municipality of Royan. This time, a quartet succeeds soloist Patrice Mondon. Over the course of the editions, the training grows. It becomes a chamber orchestra (about thirty musicians) then a philharmonic orchestra. Today, Un Violon sur le Sable brings together an ensemble of more than 70 instrumentalists and a dozen soloists. In the end, the event never stopped going upmarket. He moved on to three big gigs in 1999.

Ultimately, the singular formula is based on its original principle of 1987. classical repertoire is served in the form of medleys, like a pop concert setlist where the “hits” follow one another. The stage overlooks a crowd worthy of the great shows of the discipline. La Grande Conche then accommodates up to sixty thousand spectators per evening.

In this spirit, the organizers of Un Violon sur le Sable are setting up stages with varied accents and rhythms. Great classical performers – the pianist Khatia Buniatishvili, the singer Nathalie Dessay, violinists Renaud and Gautier Capucon… – cross the path of star dancers and hip hop dancers (Delphine Moussin, Marie-Claude Pietragalla…). We also applaud the variety artists who came to push the song in a symphonic version. Laurent Voulzy, Jean-Louis Aubert, Maurane, Vianney and even Grand Corps Malade have thus entered their names in the guestbook of “A Violon on the Sand”.

A fiddle over the city

Since 2012, a off festival called “A Violin on the City” complete the program. It takes place for a whole week and allows the public to attend musical performances, mostly free, in atypical places in the Royan area.

Violin on sand fireworks


  • Beginning of the concerts at 22 p.m. – postponed to the next day in case of rain
  • Free concerts on the beach
  • Possibility of reserving a place in the stands – single price: €32 – rentals opening at the end of April
  • Festival accessible to people with reduced mobility (dedicated space)

How to get here

Firm. Opens at 11:00 p.m.
Boulevard Garnier
17200 Royan
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  • More than 4 parking spaces are available.
  • Given the crowds, consider carpooling, coming by bike or on foot.
  • Royan station is located 800 m from the beach. The SNCF offers special trains during concert times.

Prepare your stay for the Un Violon sur le Sable festival

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