Thursday is la Fête de la Musique, a celebration that occurs every year on the Summer solstice (21 June.) This year, the festival celebrates the birth of pop music fifty years ago when The Beatles released Love Me Do, forever changing the landscape of popular music. Every corner of Paris will positively hum during the Fête -- the streets, parks, squares, courtyards and palaces -- with amateur and professional musicians of all stripes bursting and singing their hearts out. It’s fun.
And as fun as it is, I’m not going to lie: it can also be overwhelming, cacophonous, and even a bit scary. Particularly if you don’t have a plan. However if you prepare properly, you’ll never have to experience what I did one year: being stuck on a narrow street in the Marais, a street that was so crowded with people that I was being carried along without my feet even touching the ground, my ears deafened by truly terrible reggae.
Below, some of my picks to help you avoid surging mobs of music enthusiasts:
• You cannot go wrong with just hanging out in the jardins du Palais Royal. There, you can check out Bertrand Burgalat (my personal favorite and TOP PICK!) at 20h30. His new record, Toutes Directions, has been on a constant loop around here and I cannot recommend it enough! At 22h30, you can catch Archimède who have a sound that’s been described as “franglo-saxon” -- think mashup between Oasis and Jacques Dutronc with a lot of smart-assery thrown in. Very cool!
• In the 4e arrondissement, you can hear Paris Combo at 20h30. They play in the courtyard of the Bibliothèque Forney/Hotel de Sens which is gorgeous. Who doesn’t love a little Django Reinhardt-inspired music?
• Head over to the Hôtel de Matignon in the 7e at 17h45 to get your dance on with Pony Pony Run Run.
• For something a little jazzier, there’s Bazar et Bémols who play at two different times: first at 13h at the Centre Hospitalier Sainte-Anne in the 14e, then on the terrasse of Chez Jean in the 11e at 19h.
• If your tastes run more Indian, there’s Satsang and Sanskrit chanting, as well as electronica starting at 18h on the roof of the playground building in the parc de Belleville in the 20e.
• And of course, if you want to chill out and do yoga, you can! Join Pascale Albrieux in the Square Saint Lambert in the 15e at 17h.
For the full calendar of (sanctioned) events, click here!
Some tips for enjoying la Fête:
• If you don’t feel like wandering around, just choose your adventure based on arrondissements
• If you’d rather organize your day around your musical predilections, click here to search by genres
• Download the app for real-time, geo-located info on events throughout the day
• Public transportation will be affected by the Fête so be sure to check the schedule changes. You can also buy a special Fête de la Musique pass for 3€ which entitles you to unlimited transportation from Thursday 17h to Friday 7h.