Is Château Perché the most experimental festival yet?

The party may be over, but Château Perché’s reputation for regale festivities is becoming the stuff of legend.

Welcome to the chateau of fun.

Now in its fifth year, the visionary party Perchépolis collective unites a blend of artistry from all flavours (musical, ornamental and theatrical) in a historical chateau setting to create a spiritualistic festival experience. Each August, the three-day Château Perché festival gives those open-minded partygoers an opportunity to connect with French heritage as the festival moves from chateau to chateau, thus making each edition an one-off magical encounter.

chateau perche
Party on down with the inflatables!

Its the type of festival that encourages peak individualism by allowing people to express themselves in various ways; whether it be dancing to trance or pimping clothes to getting involved in the theatrical antics the festival bestows.

chateau perche
Trying to be as regal as one can be.

This year, Château Perché was held at the stunning castle of Avrilly with its surrounding buildings dating back to the 15th and 19th century. The chateau grounds were also put to good use as the festival was vastly spread out making it a festival to really get your legs going both on the dance floor and the commute.

The high of Château Perché

Château Perché is setting the bar higher and higher with each festival as the number of stages and attendance growing vasty. This year, there were 11 uniquely themed stages of different sizes pumping out electronic music leaving crowds in dance ecstasy. Expect no repeat feeling as each stage takes on its own unique identity, incorporating its surrounding scenery and quirky aesthetics to create an unusual dance floor experience.

chateau perche
When humans became fairies…

Your little festival wild child will be blown away by the melodies and visionary decor projected at each stage. Think a stage in the middle a moat with the chateau in the foreground – it made for a pinnacle stage set worthy to be framed. This one, in particular, was my favourite due to just the sheer sight of the chateau behind the DJ stage and having this magical experience on a sloping dance floor.

Brexit stage
Brexit! Passport control.

There was also the mystical stage with fairylike forest trees towering over its hyperactive dance floor butterflies below that was made extra dreamy once the sunset glow bounced off its trunks and onto the crowd. A cheeky addition to the festival was the small check-point style Brexit stage, decked out with Union Jack flags and a patriotic tiger hovering over party passports. Other notable mentions include the mostly monumental main stage within the chateau grounds that was a nighttime magnet for those wanting to dance up a storm – myself drawn to it both nights!

The list of stages, according to French music site VoltBass, were as follows:

  • The Station Hall
  • The End of the Canal
  • The Carré des Platanes
  • The Half-timbered Room
  • The Edge of the Glade
  • The Agricultural Greenhouse
  • The Winter Garden
  • The Forest
  • The Little Chapel

Please don’t stop the music

Forget the big names – and forget even being across the lineup. At Château Perché its all about giving people a chance to let their magic abilities in the realm of music shine. The people at Perchépolis live by the notion of having a festival consisting of “no big names, but just talents.” With that said, as the festival is practically non-stop for 48 hours, nearly 200 artists of varying backgrounds will take to the festival stages. Expect your eardrums to be treated to a diverse programme of genres including techno, drum and bass to the pleasures of drag. The latter, which I, of course, got very much involved with dancing to at the campsite stage.

Chateau Perche

Install your theme

Who doesn’t love a good dress up? As a part of Château Perché lovingness to freedom of expression, there were two themes to follow at the festival. The first-day theme was a tribute to Charles Freger‘s photography which was very much open to interpretation. Think oriental, demons, tribal, Japanese masked rituals and every day – there was endless imagination to be had! The next day followed with a La Belle Époque (1900-1914) theme. I wore a red and white laced corset that I managed to pick up from a thrift store for one euro. Chic yet classy as fuck!

Naturally, people release their inner ambitions when it comes to festival attire, so many people were colourfully dressed. Notable costume highlights include seeing a man that was almost centaur-like with his orange cape and horns and women wearing traditional and elaborate corsets. An oldie but a goodie, a Wally (or Waldo) was also present – always a fun spot.

When there is art, there is a theatre

Château Perché is known for its experimental ways of combining and mixing music, arts and theatre across many realms. The latter needs to be discussed.

I was witness to a red jump-suited mime holding a sign that flip both ways. One that she was claiming to be some sort of Sleeping Beauty that required a kiss. Once she had received that kiss (how was she was given that kiss was dependent on the giver), she soon crouched down into a frog-like position. She then moved her mouth in a frog-like way, puffing her cheeks and held her sign to say that she needed to be kissed. Haven’t I kissed too many frogs in my lifetime already? I kissed her on her forehead, she smiled but soon collapsed back onto the floor to repeat her sleeping beauty ways. Expect this whole case scenario to last for a few hours!

Dance floor highlights

A personal highlight of mine was day dancing at a small but cosy stage. I was outside this sphere-like caged stage watching those trapped inside letting loose. It was good to feel like an outsider as I ended up finding my groove with the people surrounding me. They not only took a liking to me but my dance floor moves. Soon enough, they were copying my moves and encouraged others to do so. Next minute, I somehow become the festival choreographer that everyone is eyeing off with everyone repeating the same moves as I. I cannot express how high on life I was with this all happening around me – it was so fricken awesome!

Chateau Perche

It wasn’t all about the beats pumping out as there were also moments the crowd could give back. Thankfully, one stage had turned itself into a karaoke mecca during the daytime, so my love for pop was well catered for. Tunes like “Hey Jude” and “Whenever Wherever” were belted out by party goers and I was only too happy to join in.

chateau perche
With my dance partner in crime – Lydia.

In the last few hours of the festival, the stage was full on pumping out electro beats. There was a man, dancing away with a rockmelon (or cantaloupe) as if it was his holy grail. Soon enough, some in the crowd were mimicking his movement of reaching his arm back and forth towards the tree as if he was going to smash his glorious rockmelon. He caved. He smashed that thing, and its orange juices went everywhere! The crowd went wild with praise. People then rushed to him as if to take that supreme slip from a bleeding melon.

A train!

Another notable mention was that there was a train at the festival – a festival train! Ok, it was on wheels, but it went around to parts of the festival, picking up people from its four stations – all named after happy substances. Seriously, the best way to get around a festival is being on a train of fun!

chateau perche

Chateau Perche
Could this festival get any cooler than with a free train ride around?!

Keeping cool at the camping ground

If the three camping grounds had to be separated into three classes, I was definitely in upper class.

My humble abode aka a yellow tent was located within the chateau grounds and only a mere hop, skip and jump into the festival. I was in a commune with around 25 – 30 others who came and went (and slothed together) as they pleased.

As last years’ toilet/shower situation was a complete shit show (literally – wait until you read the below on the toilet situation), this year was an absolute dream in comparison. I didn’t even need my 60-packet baby wipes on standby. My tent was conveniently located a few minutes away from the toilets and communal showers. Seriously, that’s #camplyf luxury.

There were roughly ten communal showers all lined up next to each other with cold water practically non-stop streaming (although I did hear whispers at times it felt like the water ran out). For the next two days, the touch of a cold shower felt so glorious over my sweated up, glitter-covered body. I didn’t even have a care for the world if people saw more than they bargained for; my priority was feeling fresh.

The whole toilet situation

Yep – I am going to be discussing toilets here. I feel like you need to know what you are dealing with when the time comes at Château Perché.

Thank God it was not a repeat of last years’ camping situation. It wasn’t just my first castle festival experience rather it was also, my first ‘forest poo’ experience – gross I know. Due to the lack of toilet facilities, nature was calling when the body decided it was time. It felt like it was far cleaner than to simply find a tree or bush than to hold a breath for a few minutes, sitting in an overused porter loo to do your thing. Forget dignity as that was the thing I left behind in Paris.

Fast forward to 2018; the organisers redeemed themselves by putting more toilets onto the camping site and in the festival itself. Thank God, there was no need to bend those knees and find a place to squat anymore! Even better, they were sawdust toilets so really; you could actually breathe and not hold your breath for what seems like 5000 years. And not feel that gross afterwards either. If I had to rank festival toilets (which would be a first), it was deserving of a royal flush.

Camp life gimmicks

One of the festival stages was located in the camping grounds so even if you didn’t have enough energy to go into the festival, there was always a stage nearby. There was also the trusty disco delight, loved up LoveSpecs van selling their wares of funky love heart reflecting specs on standby.

chateau perche
Camp life, family life.

During the day, the place was a sauna. The sun was beating down so hard, so the tent was definitely not the place for respite. Luckily, the campsite had plenty of areas to chill under the shade – including the “pimp my stuff” table. The table was well equipped to cater for the inner five-year-old with its arts and crafts of glitters, colourful tape and plastic jewels on standby to create your next masterpiece. I ended up making some kind of disco headband that I invested an hour into making and wore for five minutes. Oops!

Yep, you can bring your own booze but just make sure it is not in glass or cans kids. Alcohol sold at the festival is available with a one euro deposit on its plastic glass. And if you want to be a cheapskate, just collect the rejected glasses on the floor and cash on in for your free drink. Score!

Festival pains

The festival was possibly the best one I have attended – big call I know, but hey, I am making it. But not all festivals go without there problems. It took over an hour to enter the chateau grounds in the heat of the day. Not cool – literally also. This was due to security checks which were the most unbearable in comparison to waiting at an airport.

Until the next dance

Château Perché is doing a great job of deconstructing the traditional festival space. It is a movement – and one that I want to be a part of its continuing legacy.

Relive the music of Château Perché:

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