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Your taste of life in Nice and the Riveria!

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Music in the Air and On the Water

The Nice Jazz Festival ended Saturday night and the dismantling of the stages has already begun. My visiting friend and I entered early and left almost at closing on Thursday night — a total of five hours listening to music at two different venues, eating goodies from the “food court” (including lobster salad) and taking it all in. Then, I went back Saturday night on my own for more.

The Théâtre de Verdure is where most of the older festival-goers go, because it has seating and the acts there are geared to a more mature audience (fully devoted to jazz) than the “Scène Masséna” — the big stage where it’s SRO and for big players of more diverse musical styles.

Located on a historic site, the theater was built in 1945 in the heart of the Jardin Albert 1er. It can accommodate 1,850 people seated, and 3,200 standing with a 1,000-square-meter reception area. Pine trees, palms, cypresses and fountains line the theater with Greek-inspired architecture. A stone wall at the back of the stage, dominated by two antique statues and amphitheater steps, gives a bit of a magical dimension to the venue. Lots of luminaries have performed here, including Edith Piaf, Yves Montand, Charles Aznavour, Serge Gainsbourg, as well as Sting.

We heard some great music, but a little too much progressive jazz for my personal taste. I loved the Cuban band, Orquesta Akokán, led by the Cuban singer, José “Pepito” Gómez, a big band consisting of Cuba’s best musicians from across the generations, and nominated for a Grammy in 2018. They really got the French out of their seats and dancing, a feat for any performer (my observation is that the French are too concerned with proper behavior to let themselves go in public!).

The other performers that touched me were Kokoroko, an African-British band of eight, playing an Afrojazz beat, led by three women playing brass instruments: sax, trombone and trumpet. It’s unusual to see women playing these instruments, for one thing, but the Afrojazz is also a great combination that makes for an easy beat to which one must move their body. The French were into their dancing beat almost as much as the latino one.

For year-round music in Nice, John Garland is now crooning every Friday night from 8 to 11 p.m. at Le Truc, a local Anglophone wine bar on rue de France in the Quartier des Fleurs. John’s not only singing great and better than ever, but he’s getting funnier by the moment. (I just love his almost unintentional stand-up routine!) So come for the tunes and the laughs and be sure to tell him Adrian sent you!

Much of the rest of my time in Nice (besides working away as always and writing this “Nouvellettre®”) has been on the beach taking in the beautiful acqua blue Mediterranean Sea. I intend to spend a lot of time there taking it in and people watching — almost more fun than floating in the cool water.

For those of you landlocked in Paris, you can have your beach and enjoy it, too, by going to Paris Plage! Every summer, the banks of the Seine and the Basin of La Villette transform into a seaside resort. (It isn’t Nice, but it’s awfully nice for Paris!) It opened July 6th and will be open longer than in years past, till September 1st. This is your chance for relaxation and recreation — fresh lawns, parasols, deckchairs, palm trees, cultural activities, sports, and also swimming — everything is there to cool you off and enjoy the beautiful summer days. For more information, visit

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds

Editor of Parler Nice

(at Nice Jazz Fest 2019)


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