Fête de la Musique

June 26, 2010

Parisians welcome the first day of summer by creating a huge citywide music festival. This idea is so cool and has been so successful that it’s now the the norm in many other European cities, which isn’t surprising. Planned performances, DJ’s, African drumming parades, and impromptu street performer performances make the city hum, pound, and vibrate around (in certain places) every corner.

We were unfortunately still suffering from an unusual cold streak, which meant that there were fewer performers than usual and we were dressed in multiple layers, long pants, and thick scarves, but we still went out to see what we could find. As you can see from the pictures, Laura and I started out by joining Caroline near the Louvre. At first we didn’t hear much music, but the light was perfect for photographs, so Laura and I got sidetracked. But it was worth it!

In the distance we could hear music, and as we walked in that direction we realized it was a DJ playing for a party on the lawn of the Louvre. There were young people everywhere, sitting on blankets or running through shrubbery maze, listening to current and past American hits.

After arriving at the Pyramid we found Caroline, who showed us through the glass a classical concert taking place! We couldn’t go inside, because there were too many people, but with our ears pressed against the pyramid we could just make out faint musical sounds.

We gave up on the Louvre after that and headed towards Châtelet, and that’s when we heard a lot more music! The fête was really going on the rooftop of the Châtelet theater, but the party looked exclusive, so we wandered down side streets, stopping when we discovered a booth selling the fuel of any late night adventure in Paris: The Haribo Stand.

After selecting our favorite candies (peach hearts are the best, but for sheer entertainment the Smurfs are a must) we continued to wander. We were passed by a parade of African drummers dressed all in white. We saw bars packed with people listening to performances inside, and we discovered a small drum circle complete with dancing French hippies.

It was after this that we ran into the most entertaining performance of the night. A band was playing American songs while French people danced Le Rock in the street-some of them smoking and some of them barefoot. Only in France do those activities while swing dancing seem normal. We were in for a treat though when the band started playing Michael Jackson’s ‘Billy Jean’ -and it sounded like French Muppets with colds. We couldn’t stop laughing, because they didn’t know the words, they only knew approximate sounds, but the vocals were clearly out of range and the result was horrendous enough that we wondered if it was a joke. But when the song kept going, and the French people kept dancing, we realized that nobody besides us knew how awful it was, so we decided once again to move on.

At this point Laura and I were tired, and as we walked to the metro we were fortunate enough to come across a young singer-song writer who could actually sing, even in English (unlike the ‘Billy Jean’ killers). It wasn’t that late when we finally got home, and Caroline headed out to find a Jazz Bar, but I decided that one real Nuit Blanche was enough for the year. Plus, it doesn’t feel much like summer when you’re wishing you had gloves!

Luckily the heat of summer has descended on the city full-force, and I need to go enjoy it!

A bientôt!


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