La Fete de la Musique

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The music festival celebrated in France on the 21st June, which corresponds to the summer solstice in Europe, was created by French culture minister, Jack Lang, in 1982. It’s also celebrated in other parts of the world where it is known as World Music Day. Until we came to live in the Palais Royal seven years ago, we mainly went to local manifestations. Now we have one literally on our doorstep. Unfortunately, it is a little loud for my liking. Loud booming music from a stage down the other end of the gardens began this morning at 9 am, vying with the percussion tools of the workers renovating the balcony next door.

When I looked out the window later in the morning, however, I was surprised to see some large white objects around the newly cleaned up fountain. I took a photo and tweeted it. Mary Kay from Out and About in Paris (who’s been taking us to the Paris races recently) tweeted back “They’re 40 pianos! For the big concert this afternoon! “Play me I’m yours”. I plan to be there.” I am a little embarrassed to say I knew nothing about it! I checked it out though and phoned Brainy Pianist to check that he knew about it.  Mary Kay informed me that it was on from 4 pm to 7 pm. That was around lunchtime.

Until  4 o’clock, I had booming music interspersed with percussion tools, rain, occasional sonatas and concertos, rain, percussion tools and booming music. The percussion tools then went home for the day. The first three pianos were unveiled and the booming music disappeared. The sky gradually cleared and the sun came out intermittently. All the other pianos were uncovered and the music began for real!

Mary Kay dropped by around 5 and we both took lots of photos from the balcony. At 7 pm, however, they brought the booming music back which somewhat silenced the pianos. What a wonderful initiative! More information on Mary Kay’s blog: http://outandaboutinparis.blogspot.fr/2012/06/play-me-im-yours-40-street-pianos-in.html

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26 Responses to La Fete de la Musique

  1. Lyn says:

    They had it in Brisbane yesterday, it was great. Lyn

  2. Steph says:

    That’s a brilliant idea with the pianos. We’d hoped to go to the local do, an accordion band, but it’s at the top of a steep, high hill. The steep wasn’t the problem, although we were going to cycle. It was the high since we were on amber alert for electric storms! Also, the band performs in a large metal hanger on top of the high hill. We decided we’d give it a miss this year and avoid getting electrocuted. Hopefully next year …

  3. Mary Kay says:

    It was wonderful seeing you yesterday afternoon. Thanks for inviting me to your apartment to enjoy the magnificent view!

    I hope that you get a bit of a respite from the noise (music and percussion tools!) today.

  4. Sylvia says:

    Those are great looking pianos. Thank you for the heads up!!!

  5. patricia says:

    in the worst earthquake affected areas of Christchurch New Zealand where buildings have been demolished and so much lost we have GAP Fillers – Fridges as free book shelves and brightly coloured pianoes and these have proved most successful and people have put out chairs firepits and bbqs a little friendship in tough times Not as elegant as Paris but just as valued love the blog

  6. Butcherbird says:

    What a fantastic initiative!
    I am coming across to hungary next year in July for a music conference. I was planning to come a month early and ‘ do’ Wimbledon. Now I’m adding this little first stop over in Paris. Such fun!
    Se you there in 2013!

    • Fraussie says:

      You’ll see from Lyn’s comment that they have it in Brisbane as well. But a stopover in Paris is obviously more attractive to a Townsvillian.

  7. Pamela says:

    Dear Fraussie
    We were passing through the Palais Royal galleries in the afternoon of January 21st after having a wonderful lunch at Le Grand Colbert to celebrate our 43rd wedding aniversary. This is when I think I might have seen you. Only it began to rain and storm so we walked round and round hoping it would stop. While we were walking we heard the boom boom you were suffering. Sadly we didn’t see the pianos around the fountain as we were hiding from the storm. They were a great idea. Hopefully they were protected from the rain.

    We had made the mistake of booking seats on the tgv to go to Lyon for the day on the 22nd (using up an extra day left over on our Eurail Pass). Sadly because, a) it would have been rather nice to have gone out walking locally and enjoyed the music, and b) there was a band and singer with high amps directly outside our apartment which went on till very late and was then replaced by others. We stay in an apartment in Rue de la Reynie off Boulevard de Sebastopol and the cafe across the walkway has changed hands since we were last stayed here. It’s now a kind of American/Hollywood nostalgia type place. The band they hired and the singer did old Elvis numbers and old songs from the 50s and 60s and were surprisingly good if you hadn’t been trying to go to sleep. Much better than doof doof amps would have been. We’ve learned our lesson. Best wishes, Pamela

    • Fraussie says:

      Then maybe it was me! It’s a shame about the music keeping you awake. We know that it’s pointless going to bed before midnight on 21st. This year we had a very good music festival experience. We found a good jazz band on the Pont des Arts, then several other bands on our way to the Marché Saint Germain. On the way back, we stayed for some time in front of the town hall in the 1st arrondissement (next to Saint Germain l’Auxerrois) listening to another brass band (I even had a park bench to sit on!). We weren’t nearly as lucky last year. So you’re back to Australia?

      • Pamela says:

        No, still in Paris, planning to visit les soldes on Wednesday (we leave on Saturday). Had lunch again at the Cafe Diane today though it was not the beautiful day we had last time. We’d told how lovely it was to some Australian friends, visiting their son and his family here and they insisted on us all meeting there for lunch despite weather. We had a great time just to meet up again and luckily we were able to sit at one of the covered tables as the rain was coming down intermittently.
        Yes, would love to have been able to walk around in the evening of 21 June, definitely learned a lesson. Your evening sounded magical.
        Best wishes, Pamela

        • Fraussie says:

          So wonderful to share good places isn’t it? Be prepared to fight the crowds in the soldes! With such cool weather, they should be good this year because no one’s buying otherise.

          • Pamela says:

            Went only to Le Bon Marche about an hour after opening as I didn’t want to be in a crowd surge when the doors parted. But there weren’t too many people, the shoe department seemed to be the most popular. Otherwise the numbers were comfortable for shoppers (perhaps disappointing for the store). Found some nice things, mostly with at least 40 percent discount, some with 50. Mostly accessories. Also found something I’ve been looking for for a couple of years: a canvas for one of the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries (though a quite manageably small size compared with the originals). Not in the sale of course. Our taxi driver told us it was packed at Galeries Lafayette. Seemed to be quite a few Aussies shopping in Le Bon Marche. Best wishes, Pamela

          • Fraussie says:

            Have you seen the Lady and the Unicorn in the museum in Paris? And read Tracey Chevalier’s book? I have a signed copy as she once spoke a my local library in Nogent sur Marne!

  8. Pamela says:

    Walking in the Jardin des Plantes today we discovered another one of those Play Me pianos. This one was being played by a young master, passionately and romantically, Chopin. We were enraptured. So wonderful and in such a setting. As soon as he had finished another pianist stepped up, so they’re being well used. It’s a wonderful idea. Best wishes.

    • Fraussie says:

      Pamela, I’m so pleased that you got to hear someone play! How was Lyon?

      • Pamela says:

        Lyon was wonderful. We had alredy decided to lunch at a place called Francotte in the Place des Celestins (found on Tripadvisor), partly for the good reviews and partly for the lovely location in the beautiful quiet square by the old theatre. As we emerged from the station we were lucky to find a taxi driver who really liked Australians and was so pleased that of all the cities you can go to by tgv for the day from Paris we had chosen Lyon. He took us on a little tour of the city and showed us where to walk across bridge over the Saone to get into the old town and where to find the funicular up to the Basilique de Notre Dame. Then he dropped us at our restaurant – which lived up to expectations. After lunch we walked around the little square and enjoyed exploring the streets of the old town, the cathedral of Saint Jean and then the peak crowned by the beautiful basilica. The exterior has been cleaned and restored and the carving and statuary is magnificent. Inside there are “les travaux” so that was disappointing for us, but will be wonderful in the future. The views from the terrace are quite wonderful. The day was so clear and sunny that you could see the mountains in the distance. It was a great day. Best wishes, Pamela

        • Fraussie says:

          Thank you Pamela, for your feedback. Glad you enjoyed Lyon! We only had a very cold day there one February but definitely intend to go back. And we’ll try out Francotte! The cathedral was under scaffolding when we were there. Did you visit the “traboulés” that connect up houses in different streets?

          • Pamela says:

            Dear Fraussie
            Maybe by the time you go back les travaux will be finished and you’ll see the cathedral without all the scaffolding. I’d certainly like to return there in a few years to see it properly. Sadly no we didn’t see the “traboules”. Didn’t know we should have been looking for them, obviously hadn’t done enough research before our visit. We were lucky with the weather, it was overcast and threatening as we left Paris but as the tgv sped further south the clouds vanished and we had a beautiful day.

            In answer to your earlier question, yes we did see the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries in the Musee de Cluny. Absolutely magical, we both loved them. But haven’t read the book you recommended. Will look for it when we return home. We bought some lovely books for our little grand-daughters in the shop at the Museum. They would both have loved the tapestries. The older girl (7 years old) is fascinated by unicorns and would love to believe they’re real. She also clings on to her wish that fairies could be real too. Isn’t childhood wonderful! Best wishes, Pamela

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