Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Music At My Feet

June is an amazing month in France. In theory at least, the sun comes out and suddenly every mairie and association is organizing outdoor events, generally for free, all over the place.

Parc Floral

Last weekend, my friend was visiting Paris and she and her friends invited me to a jazz concert at the Parc Floral in the Bois de Vincennes. Vincennes is one of these little Parisian suburban towns with a park and a château and dinky little versions of expensive Parisian shops on its high street. The castle is impressive in its vastness and appeared to be a prime spot for wedding pictures, as it was dotted with posing couples and small girls in big dresses.

You have to pay to get into the Parc Floral but the concert was free. It was a little bit cold and wet for an outdoor concert, so we kept having to move between the seats that were well and truly under the cover of the bandstand and the ones on the outside that occasionally caught a glimpse of sunshine between the thundery showers. The jazz was good, though.

On Sunday, I met up with the same friend and her friend, this time for a Chopin concert in the Jardin du Luxembourg. Unfortunately, I wasn’t listening to the instructions properly and spent the first half in the Tuileries instead, but, this being a French concert, all I really missed was the pompous speeches at the beginning. 2010 is the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth and there is a whole series of these concerts in the gardens to celebrate.

Sunset in Paris

Finally, on Monday night, it was the famous Fête de la Musique, always held on the first day of summer, where as well as organized events, musicians of all kinds descend on to the streets to perform for anybody who wants to listen and many people who don’t. I went to see the wonderful Kila (trad music gone modern) at the Irish Cultural Institute, then wandered the streets with my friends for a while listening to bands of varying quality performing covers of old rock songs of varying quality. I decided to be good and headed back to suburbia for an early night, only to discover that the streets of my hometown had been taken over by lycée bands and their adolescent groupies and that several of them were trying to perform hard rock on a far to efficient sound system outside my bedroom window. The moral of the story? Never come home from Paris early, as at least the culture there is genuine and the participants have left high school.

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