Fete de la Musique


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Jean-Pierre playing Breton bagpipes
Photo by Chris Card Fuller ©2007
It’s about half past midnight and maybe time to think about which club one wants to be in tonight to celebrate Fete de la Musique – depending on whether you spent the whole day lounging around – which we didn’t – we spent the whole day in motion – and a good part of the day in one of SNCF’s brand new high speed trains. We were back in Paris around 9:30 pm and the Fete de la Musique was in full swing – especially the Metro which is open most of the night – for a change. That’s great for people who’ll be out in the clubs and want to to get around the city to as many hot spots as possible.

Meanwhile, right in our own Montparnasse neighborhood, we enjoyed some outdoor street music, in particular the Breton Pariz band which played traditional Breton music with bagpipes. Because Montparnasse is traditionally a Breton neighborhood, this was the perfect spot. Some Breton dancers joined in for the music. The woman standing next to me told me that each village or ‘pays’ has its specific melodies and dances. She recognized many of the songs and could tell me the names of the ‘pays’.
The Breton flag is black and white. The music is played with bagpipes, drums, and small horns. Of course, you probably associate bagpipes with Scotland, but you can also find bagpipe music in Galicia in western Spain as well as Brittany in France. Meanwhile over in Luxembourg gardens a huge concert started earlier in the evening -(before our train came in unfortunately).
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Breton dancing ‘improv’
Photo by Chris Card Fuller 2007

There are zillions of people out in the streets just walking back and forth – looking for the music hot spots – they come in waves and then evaporate. (I think most of them ended up in the Metro on the #4 line between Boulevard Saint Michel and Gare de l’Est.

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Chris says this is Paris’s last chance to keep people in town for an extra night before they head out for summer vacation. I don’t necessarily agree. There’s plenty of concerts and festivals planned for the summer. In the last few years, the city of Paris has worked hard to make the summer brimming with events that make people want to stay in town – or if they have to stay in town for work, they know that they can find plenty of things to keep them entertained on the weekends.

Did you know that restaurants and businesses playing music have to play a music tax? That’s one of the reasons why you don’t normally hear piped in music in restaurants or stores. Tonight is the exception to the rule. There’s no tax tonight.
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Edgar Quinet, Cafe de la Liberte (Night of the Fete de la Musique)
Photo by Chris Card Fuller ©2007