France celebrates the Fete de la Musique every year on June 21st. The festival has been around since 1982, and the initiation can be attributed to the then Minister of Culture, Jack Lang and Director of Musique, Maurice Fleuret. Through a study, they discovered that among the 5 million French people, 1 out of every two children could play an instrument but did not have an opportunity to show off their skills. Also, 75% of the 4 million instruments owned by the French, were deteriorating away in cupboards and rubbish. So they came up with a plan to find a way to get people to pick up these instruments, restore them, and come out in the streets to 'enchant anyone who cared to listen.'
A request was sent out to "Faites de la musique"- Make Music, between 8.30 and 9 in the evening on the summer solstice. Needless to say, it was a dream come true and now not only in France but in countries all over the world the day is celebrated with people coming out and playing a variety of instruments on the street corners, the market squares, the gardens..
Yesterday, I got to witness my first Fete de la Musique. I went to the city along with a new friend, a French intern who started at XRCE on the same day as I did. At each corner, 'place', garden, and also, at the Bastille, the fort on the mountain overlooking the city, there were concerts. The atmosphere was awesome!
Here are some pics of a few bands, some seemed like professionals and some soon to be professionals and they played French music, Jazz, Rock, English (knocking on heavens door!, Wonderwall!), Rap.
We walked around in the city and kept meeting people we know cause the entire town was out on the streets. Then we took the cable car up the Bastille. The ride was free, this evening because of the Fete :) You can see the bubbles as they are called here, climbing over the river in the pic below.
The view from the Bastille is spectacular and one can also catch a glimpse of Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in western Europe, the only ghostly white peak on the horizon (BTW, don't want you straining your eyes to catch it, I have not put a pic of it here).
I love the color of the roof tops and even though it is so high, you can see different architectural elements of the buildings and I think I could spend hours looking at the city below.
I plan to explore the fort, with all its ramparts, steps, banquettes ... in the future
but for yesterday it was all about the sound of music... we went back into the city and caught many more mini concerts and ofcourse, some French food- crepes and apple cider. Love both! The cider is less strong as compared to beer and has a very refreshing taste.
One day is too less and I was left wanting more..... many more Fetes de la Musique.