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The Paléo festival has once again proven its popularity

(Keystone)

The organisers of the Paléo music festival in Nyon on Lake Geneva have plenty to smile about after 225,000 people turned up for six days of booked-out concerts.

At the end of the 31st event, spectators and programmers were delighted with the performances of the big names in addition to the lesser-known acts on hand.

"It's like with wine, you can have a couple of good vintages in a row," said Daniel Rosselat, the head of the festival. Praise has once again been heaped on his head as spectators heard 120 concerts in almost perfect conditions.

To ensure spectator comfort, details such as sound quality, giant screens, food and space to spread out are all part of the Paléo experience.

"I've seen most of the music festivals in the French-speaking world, and I can tell that we are the only ones to offer so much," said Rosselat. "Other show specialists who come here tell us we are a model for them."

On the musical side, the two programmers Jacques Monnier and Sébastien Vugnier were especially pleased with the performances of big names such as The Who, Depeche Mode and Tracy Chapman.

"The performers feel at ease here," said Monnier. Many of these artists feel comfortable enough to hang around after their concerts are over.

Californian retro biker rock band, the Lords of Altamont, spent time mingling with spectators, even if people took them for some of the many street performers that take part in the festival.

Folk artist Chapman, who has a reputation for shyness, also joined the teeming masses and was apparently "enchanted" by the atmosphere. "It's something she never does," added Monnier.

Green

Given the success of the event, the organisers would like it to be a little more environmentally friendly. The aim is to get 40 per cent of spectators to travel to the festival on public transport.

In 2005, just over a quarter travelled by bus or train. While this year's figures are still being compiled, Rosselat said the numbers are better for this edition and that fewer people used their car to turn up.

Sorting of rubbish has also improved. Four years ago, just 16 per cent of paper, bottles and other plastic cups were separated into special bins. In 2005, that figure was almost a third and the target of 40 per cent should be reached soon.

Security was also good at this year's edition of Paléo. The police only registered 40 complaints, mostly for theft.

"That's very little when you consider that Paléo's population of 45,000 is equivalent to that of a small town," added Rosselat.

A few years ago, the situation had been more tense. In 1999 and 2000, there was a fatal overdose, a knife attack and a rape at the camping ground, while the number of complaints exceeded 200 annually.

As for drug use, the impression is – until police figures are released – that it has dropped off or that users are being more discreet.

swissinfo, Marc-André Miserez in Nyon

Key facts

Paléo festival 2006:
Six stages spread over 80 hectares.
120 concerts over six days.
150 food, drink and merchandise stalls.
30 permanent employees and 3,750 volunteers.
Budget: SFr18.5 million ($14.85 million).

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A temporary city

Paléo is a town with 45,000 inhabitants that springs up every year outside Nyon, between Geneva and Lausanne.

The festival welcomes 35,000 spectators each evening, plus another 9,000 pass holders (staff, volunteers, sponsors and performers), plus hundreds or even thousands of children under the age of 12 who get in free.

Up to 7,000 festival goers stay at the special camping ground, which is only open to ticket holders. It is connected to the Village Square, surrounded by vendor stalls where free entertainment is accessible to all.

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