France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Fête de la Musique, France
There's music in every village, town and city in France on June 21st, the summer solstice.




If you are in France on the day of the summer solstice, June 21st, you will enjoy not only a wonderful long day, with sunsets at 10:00 PM (in Paris), but you can also experience the annual Fête de la Musique.

It doesn't matter if you're in Paris or in a tiny village, there will be music. In small villages there may be four or five local groups, performing at various spots around town. In Paris there is music everywhere—in bars and restaurants, in churches, in public squares, around major monuments, in the Métro.

If you don't like what you're hearing, just walk a few blocks and you'll find something else.

It's an evening where everyone is out, from young to old. Babies in strollers are up way past their bedtimes, old folks who don't get out much will sit on a bench and enjoy the music and the activity. There's a general sense of community and of coming together around music.

We've experience the Fête de la Musique in several very different settings. Our first time was by accident in the lovely town of Amboise, population about 12,500. Amboise is home to a beautiful château and is one of the main attractions of the Loire Valley.

Abuot nine or ten small groups were performing around town, ranging from a local church choir to a fine string trio. The quality and level of professionalism varied quite a bit throughout the town, but everyone was excited to perform and the audiences were delighted.

In Paris I was happy to come across the Saints-Pères Band playing in front of the beautiful church of St-Germaine-L'Auxerrois. I later learned that this band was formed in 1991 by students of the National School for Bridges and Roads, and they play at various fanfares and musical events. They were colorful and very talented.

Band des Saints-Peres, Paris  

The Saints-Pères Band, Paris.


Walking around Paris in the afternoon and evening, we found a great jazz group, a pick-up orchestra, some student performers, and much more. There were some more formal performances in churches and other venues, but there was plenty of music right out on the street.

Rouen, a city of about 110,000, was able to support a huge Fête de la Musique. Our favorite part of this was the wonderful a capella choir that stood underneath the window of our hotel and sang beautifully for an hour or more. We had views of the cathedral and angelic voices.... What more could we ask? Other parts of Rouen had rock music so loud that it shook the streets from blocks away!

The idea for the Fête de la Musique apparently came from Bostonian Joel Cohen, Director Emeritus of the Boston Camerata. Former French Minister of Culture Jack Lang brought the festival to life in the 1980s, and it has spread across France and beyond, with celebrations in moe than 120 countries.

It's a wonderful way to celebrate summer and music!

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Paris Girls Secret Society, a novel by Tom Brosnahan


Fete de la Musique, Rouen

Above, A capella singers performing underneath our window in Rouen, delighting us and the small children in front.

Below, Les Petits Cochons at Fête de la Musique 2015, in front of the Roman Theater in Orange.

Fete de la Musique, Orange, France

Fete de la Musique, Rouen
Above, a rock band performs in front of a historic monument in Rouen.


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