The town of Houlgate has hosted the European Film Festival for over 20 years. Since 2021, the Normandy seaside resort has been the scene of a completely different event: diving into the Houlgate Festival & Baie de Scène.

Two founders behind the project

The original idea of ​​the Houlgate Festival was rather simple: to bring successful plays to Normandy, while offering a springboard to the local scene. An approach carried out by two artists with very different backgrounds.

First there is Jean-Michel Mingasson. Originally from Guéret, in Creuse, he has been passionate about theater since childhood. At the start of his career, he became friends with Jacqueline Maillan and Judith Magre (who would become his theater godmother). After assisting Jean-Claude Brialy for the Anjou festival, he became administrator of the Michel Galabru theater in Montmartre, before taking care of the Paris Jeunes Talents prize for the city of Paris. He then worked for various Parisian theaters, while presiding over the ATSF (the Association of Administrators of Theaters and Shows in France). Curious by nature, he also wrote several plays.

It's a city on the move. You can listen to classical concerts there, you can admire remarkable photo tours every year, you can hear jazz on the beach, you can see colorful kites flying there, or you can discover exceptional feature films at the cinema. Europeans. Houlgate thus seems to be part of a perpetual movement. 

Jean-Michel Mingasson West trend
Jean-Michel Mingasson
Jean-Michel Mingasson with Sophie Forte, comedian, actress, screenwriter and French singer©

Then there is Virginie Lemoine. Comedian, actress and director, she multiplied the projects (on stage and on the small screen), before falling in love with the Norman charm of Houlgate. Welcomed with open arms by the locals, the two founders also wanted to highlight the young comedians of the region by offering them to go on stage. A real springboard for those who wish to make themselves known in Normandy.

Jean-Michel and I were very keen to open this festival to the region, to reveal its talents. There is an anthology of talents in Normandy who will be the great comedians of tomorrow. But there are already comedians who are well established in their department and their region, and who have a social criticism that concerns this environment.

Virginia Lemoine, West trend

A successful first edition

In 2021 — the very first edition of the Houlgate Festival & Baie de Scène — the organizers of the Houlgate Festival offered a completely original program, which did not fail to satisfy fans of the performing arts. The festival-goers were able to see in particular: 

  • “The three make the pair”, a musical show by and with David Botter, adapted from the work of Sacha Guitry. On stage, Xavier Clion, Mathilde Bourbin and Matthieu Michard (from the Compagnie de la Pépinière) perform a funny trio (wife-husband-lover) from the beginning of the last century. A trip back in time as funny as it is delightful. 
  • “Piano Paradisio” by and with Alain Bernard. In this show, he alternates from one musical style to another, juggling wacky situations and funny anecdotes. The highlight of the show? The end, of course, as surprising as it is moving. 
  • “I'm moving”, by Sophie Forte, which is aimed at a slightly younger audience. The actress tackles various and varied themes (from Alzheimer's disease to her difficulties at school, through love and optimism). All in songs.
  • A competition for comedians open at the national level, a real springboard for young emerging artists. A “City of Houlgate” jury prize and a public prize are awarded at the end of the festival. 

The big plus?

The shows are varied and are aimed at a very wide audience: connoisseurs, the curious, young and old. 

An exceptional decor 

Avignon is famous for its bridge (on which we dance, we dance), but also its theater festival, organized every year since 1947. The Houlgate Festival has nothing to envy. Indeed, it can enjoy a unique geographical location, which (beyond having conquered the hearts of the locals) will not fail to seduce festival-goers passing through the region. The various events of the festival are held between the cinema of the Houlgate casino and the local village hall.


Parallel events

Happenings are organized throughout the duration of the festival, some even extended throughout the month of September. In 2021, artist Pascale Bordet presented (and sold) her watercolors, designed to pay homage to the beauty of theater costumes. Recognized in her community, she notably won two Molières awards for best costume designer.

Musical performances for young audiences are also presented in preview during the festival: three performances for the 140 children of the Houlgate school took place in preview of the festival. An intervention was also organized at the Happy Days of Houlgate, a public establishment intended for people over 60, autonomous and living alone. Something to satisfy young and old alike. 

Finally, Absolutely Hilarious are organized several times a year. Set of comedians, each show is sponsored or sponsored by a well-known comedian.