Music and Perfume to Fill Our Summer Senses
The high speed train sways to and fro as it whizzes past the golden fields heading south to its final destination — “Nice Ville.” I will be spending the week there staying at “Le Matisse,” seizing the few days the apartment is not booked with Riviera vacationers. I, too, am prepared with a swim suit and sun screen to find some time between work responsibilities to hit the pebbles for a bit of summer sun.
The summer is already off to a great start thanks to a perfect-weather Fête de la Musique Saturday night. Often for the Summer Solstice, the weather turns cool and gray, but not this year! It couldn’t have been bluer, warmer or lovelier for those who made the music and those who listened to it.
We took a different course this year from our usual circle of Le Marais starting off at the Palais Royal. This is where there was to be a large stage and several different bands, but first, a drink and light dinner was in order at Le Nemours (2, Galerie de Nemours, 75001 Paris, goo.gl/maps/Ud8xz ). If you have never discovered this café situated at Place Colette, this is your heads-up to do so.
The waiters can be gruff, so be sure to flirt mercilessly, but the location is ideal and the decor exactly what one would expect of a Paris café. The food is simple, but the salads are tasty. What I love most about Le Nemours is the direct sun as it faces west, the view on Place Colette (where there is almost always some sort of performance going on) and on the bejeweled Métro entrance, designed by Jean-Michel Othoniel as the “Kiosque des Noctambules” (Kiosk of the night-walkers).
We could easily have sat there all evening, but instead started off at the gardens of the Palais Royal where the trees are thick with dark leaves creating a shady canopy under which to stroll. The rappers on the big stage were drawing a young crowd so we opted out and headed out to the streets. As we wound our way eastbound toward Le Marais we discovered all sorts of musical acts from the very professional and sophisticated to the very young and novice.
There was evidence of the beautiful evening and the spirit of the public festival everywhere. There was music of some sort at every turn, on most important corners and in both expected and unexpected places. The second arrondissement was hoppin’.
My personal favorite act were the three young girls, perhaps about eight years-old, standing on a corner of rue Montorgueil playing flutes and violin. Old friend, Susi Gott, who was visiting this past week, an accomplished Blue Grass fiddle player herself, was reminded of her own daughter who performed once much like this at a past “Fête.”
Before leaving the district and heading home, we stopped to say hello to Kein Cross at Club Rayé. He had set up tables, chairs and striped parasols on the corner across from the club. A guitarist serenaded us there while performers were singing and playing piano inside the black and white club. We could easily have sat there all evening, too, munching on Rayé’s yummy tapas and listening to Kein’s stories about what it’s been like for him to open the club and find a path to success. (If you haven’t been there yet, then make a point to go and enjoy it as much as I have. Tell Kein I sent you!)
With another “Fête de la Musique” under our belts, and the real onset of the summer season, the sun stayed out and bright for a perfect picnic in the park Sunday afternoon. The Bois de Boulogne was thick with pleasure-seekers, picnicking, playing ball, riding bikes and enjoying the warm weather. It was timed well to visit the Parc de Bagatelle before the roses had faded, and lucked out to hear young pianists on a grand Steinway piano in the “Orangerie” playing Chopin. The free concerts were part of Le Festival Chopin de Bagatelle.
“The Bagatelle gardens, created by Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier, the Commissioner of Gardens for the City of Paris, are the site of the annual ‘Concours international de roses nouvelles de Bagatelle,’ an international competition for new roses run by the City of Paris in June of each year.” (Wikipedia.org) The château and grounds were “born of a bet between Marie-Antoinette and the Count of Artois, who had bought the property in 1775 – and allegedly won: the park miraculously materialized in 64 days!” (Paris.fr)
The story goes that Marie-Antoinette waged with the Count of Artois that he could not turn it into a park in 64 days. We’re thankful he won the bet, as the rose garden is worth a special visit…particularly in June when the roses are at their best. It’s fun to go from rose to rose, sniff and take one’s own survey as to which are most fragrant, as well as most beautiful. On this particular day, a bride was being photographed under the rose-laden trellises…and we took in the lazy afternoon under the sun.
A la prochaine…
Director of The Adrian Leeds Group, LLC
(asleep at the Parc de Bagatelle, Photo by Susi Gott Séguret)
P.S. Writers are invited to attend the 2014 Paris Writers Workshop Experts’ Panel on “Getting Published – A Writer’s Options” on Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at the Campus of the American University of Paris, Combes Building, Room C12, 6 Rue du Colonel Combes, 75007 Paris. This event is free and open to the public, visit pariswritersworkshop.org for more information.