Back in Time for Fête de la Musique

I miss you already, rich white people who think you’re in Spain!  I’m back in Montpellier, where the livin’ is easy and dogs are led on strings by heavily pierced heroin addicts sipping 40-centime beer at 9.30AM.

I know this, because I just came back from the store and passed three of them.

I have arrived just in time for the Fête de la Musique, one of my favorite French things (baguettes and Veuve Clicquot being the other things).  Always held on the 21st of June and a nationwide event, Fête de la Musique turns every town – from Paris to the tiniest mountainside hamlet – into an open-air music venue. Bars, cafes, restaurants, churches, opera houses, parks, slightly large intersections – you name it, you’ll find music there.

One of my favorite bars unfortunately sets up Honda-sized speakers and blasts reggae; even more unfortunate, DJs blasting reggae seems to have overtaken this once-traditional festival here in Montpel.  However, there are hidden gems of live music if you’re willing to stroll around and get lost.

Last year we saw a great jazz band, and a cover band that segued from “No Woman, No Cry” into the Police’s “So Lonely” in breathtaking fashion.  We ended the evening sitting on the steps of the Church St. Roch, grooving to a spot-on AC/DC cover band that had the crowd on its feet the entire time.

If you’re in France for the Fête de la Musique, put on your walking shoes, bring along some change to buy refreshments from outdoor stands, and see what you can find. Many towns have maps printed in their local paper or website pages dedicated to the festival, but there is nothing quite like turning a corner and discovering a small group formed around live musicians playing in the summer sun.

Bon Fête de la Musique!


2 thoughts on “Back in Time for Fête de la Musique

  1. I read Our Hearts Were Young and Gay by Cornelia Otis Skinner and Emily Kimbrough (one of my all-time favorite books), about two young women on their first trip abroad, taking place about 1920. They wrote about the Fete that took place one summer night in St.-Valery-en-Caux everyone danced and rank and they forgot they couldn’t speak French very well, and how wonderful and innocent it all was.

  2. Just worth saying that Nimes has a “fete de la musique” every Thursday night in July / August.

    Eat outdoors, and enjoy the various bands that move around the town (maybe dixieland jazz, maybe a solo singer – it changes every 20 mins or so).

    Then take a look at the three night markets held on thursday and check out which concert to to watch later on the prepared stages.

    It all takes place in the medieval centre, so is easy to get around.

    Bonne chance


    15ème édition des Jeudis de Nîmes.

    Déambuler dans les rues de la ville, découvrir à la fraicheur d’une fin de journée estivale les ingrédients qui font le charme des soirées méditerranéennes : musiciens, artisans d’art, peintres, brocanteurs, producteurs locaux. Voilà maintenant quatorze ans que les Jeudis de Nîmes investissent le centre ville au gré de nombreuses animations et manifestations en tous genres et le succés se confirme chaque année.

    Les enfants ne sont pas oubliés avec de nombreuses animations spécialement conçues pour eux : caligraphie, sculpture sur bois, poterie ou fabriquation de papier recyclé. Lors des Jeudis de Nîmes vous pourrez également découvrir de nombreuses expositions d’artisans d’art ou artistes peintres, sculpteurs… Vous apprécierez sans doute les nombreux concerts proposés et ce dans tous les genres musicaux : flamenco, rock, blues, musique classique….

    Ce sont environ une quinzaine de lieux répartis en centre ville qui accueillent les animations des 15èmes Jeudis de Nîmes : l’Esplanade, Place de la Maison Carrée, Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, Place Bellecroix, Place des Esclafidous, Place de l’Horloge, Petit Temple, Cour du Musée du Vieux-Nîmes, Place de la Calade… Les Jeudis de Nîmes, un rendez-vous estival incontournable pour toute la famille.

    Du 3 juillet au 28 août 2008 à partir de 18h

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