Music in the Air, But Not Everywhere
I purposely planned my “séjour” in Nice to end a couple days after summer solstice, June 21st, the longest day of the year and the annual Fête de la Musique in France, in spite of the fact that we’re still dealing with deconfinement restrictions.
The history of the annual music festival dates back to 1981 when Jack Lang, Minister of Culture, appointed Maurice Fleuret as Director of Music and Dance. They wanted a festival where “Music will be everywhere and the concert nowhere!” We’ve been blessed ever since with music in the streets until well after sundown — which is as late as 9:57 p.m. in Paris and 9:16 p.m. in Nice.
Over dinner this week with Jack Newcastle and Sarah Starbuck, who taped a House Hunters International with me in Nice last year — “Picky Hunting in Nice, France — we questioned why sundown is so late in Paris, Googling the latitude of Paris compared to other cities around the world. No U.S. city is the same latitude as Paris — 48.85341 to be exact. The Charles de Gaulle airport actually sits on the 49th parallel as does Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. From a point on the ground at the 49th parallel, the sun is above the horizon for 16 hours, 12 minutes during the summer solstice, and don’t we love it? Nice is much further south on the latitude of 43.7031, hence the earlier sundowns, but I languish in the long days, sultry evenings and endless energy with which the sun fills my bones.
The Ministry of Culture issued a press release on the 16th of June that this year’s Fête de la Musique would be unprecedented as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The health standards must be in force and the government could not create large gatherings. Concerts could only be held in places authorized for the public, in the open air, taking care not to create a crowd. Spontaneous concerts were not allowed, although that was nearly impossible to stop or be policed.
For the festival, singer John Garland Jones came out of confinement and his online Facebook concerts to sing in public for the first time since lockdown at the BrewDog beer pub. Being a beautiful sunny Sunday and just having reopened, the BrewDog crowd was sparse, but John had brilliantly set up his Facebook feed to coincide with the live show. When jazz singer Dénia Ridley appeared, we coaxed them into doing a duet and because it’s everyone’s favorite, they crooned “Summertime” which couldn’t have been more fitting.
John taped a House Hunters International show with me ( “Finding a Voice in Nice, France“) and then another one during confinement under the new series, “House Hunters International: The Adventure Continues.” The network, HGTV, happily announced that the new series will be premiering tomorrow, Tuesday, June 23rd at 10:30 p.m. EDT in the United States, but our episode will air June 30th!:
Season 130, Episode 3
“From Heartbroken to Happy in Nice”
John moved to Nice, France, after his bitter divorce and braved the unfamiliar with help from property consultant Adrian Leeds. Almost two years later, John and Adrian look back at the house hunt and show how not everything unfolded as planned.
Airing: Tuesday, June 30, 10:30 p.m. EDT/9:30 p.m. CDT and Wednesday, July 1, 1:30 a.m. EDT/12:30 CDT
Don’t miss it!
After John’s BrewDog concert, I headed over to Old Town with a couple of friends to see what was going on there and find a spot for dinner. Music was not “everywhere,” but in various bars, cafés and other legally designated spots…that didn’t get seriously underway until later, after dinner. We landed in one of my favorite restaurants serving typical Niçois specialties (La Cuisine Nissarde) — Le Safari — at the far eastern end of the Cours Saleya. We started with “Notre Bagna Càuda,” originally a 16th-century Piedmontese (Italy) dish of garlic, anchovies and olive oil, served as a warm sauce with raw or cooked vegetables, before moving on to the “Petits Farcis” and chilled white wine.
Old Town was filled with people, as if no Covid-19 existed. People were dancing in the Places and wherever it suited them. A percussion band wound it’s way down the narrow streets sending a barrage of drums in all directions and people gathered to move their bodies to the powerful beat. In all honesty, we “over a certain age” didn’t feel as comfortable in the crowds as the younger people did and once satisfied we had had enough of the festivities, parted and headed home.
Rue Masséna, the pedestrian street on which I live, is usually filled with music during the annual festival, but was unusually quiet. Thankfully — for a good night’s sleep.
I’ll be on the train to Paris tomorrow and Wednesday’s Nouvellettre® will be back to Parler Paris. While Paris may always be my first love, Nice warms my heart more profoundly with every sojourn, to the point of making it very difficult to leave. This time is no different, but the plans are already in place to return just after Bastille Day and for the rest of the summer.
So, stay tuned for more!
A la prochaine…
Editor of Parler Nice
(on the Cour Saleya)
P.S. If you are considering a property purchase in Nice, don’t do it lightly. Let us help you make the smartest decisions to ensure you make the best investment you can. We can also expertly advise you how best to create a profitable rental. Contact us at [email protected] to learn more.