La Musique, Paris
Whether to have a rest on one of the reclining chairs or wandering along the old-fashioned stores of its arcades, the gardens of the Palais-Royal (see the Palais-Royal gardens article) is one of the best chilling place in Paris.
But the immediate neighborhood of the garden should not be neglected: the rectangle formed by Rues Montpensier, Beaujolais, Valois, and Place du Palais-Royal and Place Colette contains notable curiosities.
Starting at Place Colette, with the famous theatre La Comédie Française, enjoy the Kiosque des Noctambules, the most original métro station entrance, made in 2000 by Jean-Michel Othoniel to celebrate the centenary of Paris’s underground (see the background of the picture).
In low-trafficked Rue de Montpensier, you’ll find elegant and trendy restaurants or bars, most of which are located in cellars below streetlevel. Several short but elegant covered arcades, like Potier or Beaujolais connect this island of quietness to the busier Rue de Richelieu. But the most interesting spot, just at the angle of Montpensier and Beaujolais streets, is without a doubt the beautiful Théâtre du Palais-Royal, with its outdoor metallic stairs.
Rue de Beaujolais, reminding a French wine region, is full of small wine restaurants, and Le Grand Véfour (already inside the ceint of Palais-Royal buildings) is one of the smartest and most famous.
Rue de Valois has less interesting things, except the original and bourgeoise Place de Valois, and the interesting view on the office of the Minister of Culture.
Back to Place du Palais-Royal, the busiest square around, with its skaters and roller addicts…
Did you know that you can actually find some great live music and artists performing for free in the streets of Paris?
Here’s my list of the best places to track them down!
1) The Paris metro: it may seem an unusual destination but the buskers playing in the corridors of the Paris metro have to pass an official audition with the metro authorities to prove their skills before being allowed to play. However those playing in the metro carriages are ‘unofficial’ and have to run fast when approached by the transport authorities if they want to escape a large fine! Look out for the puppeteers who make a clever temporary puppet theatre using the metro poles and a few well placed curtains. The biggest metro stations tend to attract the most musicians so head for stations Bastille, Concorde and Chatelet to be sure of catching some cool tunes.
2) Outside Centre Pompidou: You’ll normally find a mixed collection of artists and musicians performing at the weekends in the shadows of this unusual building.
3) On Pont Saint-Louis, (the bridge over to L’île St Louis), and the bridges around Notre Dame: There are some really talented buskers playing here, even in Winter the cold weather doesn’t seem to put them off, one group of American jazz and blues musicians have been playing here for over 20 years.
In 2013, a very cool initiative was taken by some train stations (in Paris, but also in some other French cities): a piano was installed in the public area where the travellers wait, and it is accessible to whoever wants to practise.
Since I stayed in the suburbs, I regularly pass by the station Saint-Lazare to go home, and it is a real pleasure, when I have to wait for my next train, to stay around the piano listening to the improv artists. Especially, late in the evening, when the station is nearly empty, and most people around are lonely or tired, but find better vibes to finish the day in these piano sessions …
I also like the fact that there’s no specific rule for those who want to play, no list, no queue, but a general agreement between the piano players, and sometimes singers too who ask the pianists to play their favourite songs.
It seems that every major train station in Paris (except maybe Gare du Nord) has its own “À vous de jouer” piano (it literally means: it’s your turn to play): Saint-Lazare, Montparnasse, Austerlitz, Gare de Lyon and Gare de l’Est. The pianos are located near the Transilien (suburban train network) platforms (upper levels), and not at the metro or RER underground levels.
So, if you miss a piano to practise on while travelling in Paris, or if you simply want to share a warm spontaneous atmosphere, look for a train station!
This is a cultural musical event at night all over the city, as years went by it has become more and more popular,and there are stand by musicians some amateurs all over the city
its a great time to be in Paris is there is any. All began in 1982 and to the rest of Europe in 1994. All in English at this webpage
there is special transportation this y ear only 3 euros for the whole day and night of the event on any type of public transport,information on transport in French from RATP
for a presentation in French for Paris, with the spectacles guide of Paris here
One of the best and most original songs about Paris remains for me "Il est cinq heures Paris s'éveille" from and by Jacques Dutronc a French singer, songwriter, composer, guitarist and actor (born 1943 in Paris).
My photo of the Jardin des Tuileries, not at 5 am but around 8 am, still empty under a grey cloudy sky makes me think of his song:
Le café est dans les tasses
Les cafés nettoient leurs glaces
Et sur le boulevard Montparnasse
La gare n'est plus qu'une carcasse
Il est cinq heures
That song makes me remember that that I spent my first night in Paris (1962) sleeping on a bench near the Petit Palais gardens (Paris in those years was very safe).
Indeed at five o'clock the starting traffic woke me up: "Il est cinq heures Paris s'éveille".
I found a student hotel for the next nights.
Rue Mouffetard is a market street which has many restaurants, shops, and cafés, and a regular open market. At the southern terminus is the Square Saint-Médard where there is a permanent open-air market. It is closed to normal motor traffic much of the week, and is predominantly a pedestrian avenue. I am sure it is always a beehive of activity, but on Sunday mornings, it is quite special. A local accordianist, Christian, plays what I perceive as popular songs, mostly French, but with others thrown in. There were a couple of dancers whom, I feel sure, are part of his troupe and are fun to watch, but anyone is welcome to dance and a lot of folks do. There were also ladies there who passed out sheets with the words to the songs, so many of the crowd sing along. Up and down the street are buskers of various sorts and one that particularly caught our attention was a juggler with a fishbowl, with live goldfish, on his head. A most enjoyable way to spend a Sunday morning in Paris!
If you are interested, I have posted videos of the dancers and the juggler on my Paris Intro page:
At any given time you will come across musicians performing in the many "tourist" areas in the city. Montmatre is just one of the many places that I have enjoyed a little bit if street music while strolling the winding streets.
Stop for a minute and enjoy the music, but don't forget to drop a euro in the box.
Sacre Couer predominates over Paris and it is visible practically from any point, as Tour d'Eiffel. The fine view at evening Paris opens from basils. A lot of people gather on a ladder, including amateurs of Beatles. They play guitars and sing, I have sung with them together "Close your eyes, and I'll kiss you, Tomorrow I'll miss you... "
You can watch my 3 min 01 sec Video Paris goodbye! out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
Walking around one Saturday afternoon I came across this group of classical musicians in front of the Palais-Royal gardens. I'm not a classical music lover at all so I have no idea at all what they were playing. But the enthusiasm and the energy they were putting into was something I could understand, so I left a small note and went on my way, happy with the pleasure they'd given me.
There was a time, long time ago, where the "chanson française" was at a top. Those were the years 1950 - 60. A perfect combination of melody, text and singers with voice and good elocution.
Think of Edith Piaf, Jacques Brell, Charles Aznavour among many others.
One of these popular singers was Lucienne Delyle who started in the 1940s with:
Sur les quais du vieux Paris,
Le long de la Seine
Le bonheur sourit, >
and in 1950 with the famous (at least for the French) "Sous les ponts de Paris" about the "clochards" sleeping under the bridges of the Seine:
Sous les ponts de Paris, lorsque descend la nuit,
Tout's sort's de gueux se faufil'nt en cachette
Et sont heureux de trouver une couchette,
Hôtel du courant d'air, où l'on ne paie pas cher,
L'parfum et l'eau c'est pour rien mon marquis
Sous les ponts de Paris. >
Lucienne Delyle had a warm voice tone, perfect diction at the service of a beautiful folk song directory. She was a great performer of the French "chanson de charme".
I discovered her in the 1950s with her outstanding interpretation of "C'est magnifique" and "I love Paris" from Cole Porter in "CanCan".
Is it possible that I discovered Paris through this song composed by Cole Porter (who lived in Paris around 1918) for his show "CanCan" in 1953, many years before I actually visited Paris for the first time?
I Love Paris in the spring time
I Love Paris in the fall
I Love Paris in the summer when it sizzles
I Love Paris in the winter when it drizzles
I Love Paris every moment
Every moment of the year >
For me the best performance is that of Lucienne Delyle in 1954.
Lucienne Delyle (1913 -1962) was a French very popular singer in the 1940 - 50s.
With her warm voice tone and perfect diction she was also excellent in "C'est Magnifique" from the same musical "CanCan" from Cole Porter.
The young lady with some kind of a drum near Notre Dame collected a croud with her unusial perfomance. (see pic.)
This is no surprise that the music festival "World Music Day" taking place in Paris . On June 21 every year since 1982 amateur and professional musicians are encouraged to perform in the Paris streets and many free concerts are organized.
It's not exactly a local custom, more an universal custom in a local flavour.
In all the Metro lines in the world it is common to see someone playing guitar or accordion or any other light instrument. But a full camera orchestra... only in Paris!
Mneka, Ry Cooder, Marianne Faithfull, Sally Nyolo, Jane Birkin, Goldfrapp, Toufic Farroukh, Queen, Mr Scruff, Mozart, Jimmy Scott, Mickey 3D, Neal Casal, Souad Massi, Norah Jones, The Psychedelic Guitar Circus, Eminem, Les Rita Mitsouko, Beverly Jo Scott, Louis Armstrong, Redbone, Wes Montgomery, Tom Waits, Pergolese, Fenetik Music, Toma, Zuco 103, Le Hammono Inferno, The Volunteered Slaves, Placebo, Jean Louis Murat, Kathryn Williams, Steve Shehan & Baly Othmani, Ben Harper, Bernard Lavilliers, Beethoven, Taj Mahal, Stan Getz, Bryan Ferry, Luigi Boccherini, David Bowie, Isaac Hayes, Sven Van Hees, Patti Smith, Os Originais Do Samba, Julien Clerc, The Turtles, Tok Tok Tok, The Berlin Symphony Orchestra, Amy Winehouse, Israel Kamakawiwo Ole, The Holmes Brothers, Christian McBride, Massive Attack, The Temptations, Ukulele Club de Paris, King Crimson, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Yves Montand, U2, Quincy Jones, Madeleine Peyroux, Serge Gainsbourg, Beck, Bjork, Billie Holliday, Chris Rea, Eva Cassidy, Kent, Ras, Gabin, The Roots, Pulp, John Hammond, Buddy Guy, Sapho, Orquesta Aragon, Susheela Raman, Death In Vegas, Santana, Count Basie, The Tab Two, Joe Sample, Bobby Womack, Tala, Astrud Gilberto, Peter Sellers/Sophia Loren, Anna Maria Jopek, Mongo Santamaria, Paolo Conte, Petula Clark, Moby, Carla Bruni, Ruben Gonzales, War, Billy Branch, Stanley Clarke, Enya, Gigi, Al Cohn, Pink Martini, and Tiny Tim.
What do these artists/composers have in common? All are featured on the playlist on FIP, a remarkable French radio station.
Why I love it: 1. The breadth of their play list is incredible. It spans hundreds of years, and every musical genre imaginable. The mix is full of surprises, flowing seamlessly across genre and era. 2. No commercials. 3. No annoying DJ's, just infrequent, brief talk between the music. 4. You can listen to it, free, on the internet.
When in Paris, tune to FM 105.1
Right now: Go to the web site, then click on "écouter"
My first trip to Paris happened to fall upon the Fête de la Musique, an eventful music festival that happens every June 21st. Music is everywhere you go! Free concerts are also everywhere. Walking down the Champ de Mars at night, there was a free concert going on. My friends and I encountered a bunch of French men on roller skates. When they saw us, they screamed, "I LOVE America!!!" To sum it up, it is crazy, chaotic fun. However, it gets annoying when you try to get some sleep!