Fête de la Musique is hands-down one of my favorite holidays in France. The concept is simple: take advantage of the longest day of the year with an open-air music festival. Amateur and professional musicians are encouraged to play in the streets, while a number of concerts are also organized by cities across France.
While the tradition was started in 1982 by the French Ministry for Culture, it’s since spread to many other countries. However, I don’t know if any can beat the original. Fête de la Musique is ingrained into French culture, with celebrations from Paris to the teeny-tiniest villages in Provence. Music ranges from classical orchestras to rock bands to covers of American hits.
Last night, Coldplay with a French accent started wafting through my windows around 8 p.m. while friends and I enjoyed a bottle of wine. Once we headed into Old Town, music was everywhere. Literally. There were live bands and DJs in every possible square, nook and cranny. We grabbed a drink and listened to American rap blaring from the club across the street–the DJ was set up outside instead of inside!
Next, we headed over to Rue de la Prefecture to Wayne’s–an English-speaking bar that’s a favorite of tourists and a regular haunt for young expats. The stage was set up outside, and a crowd filled the street to listen to some American covers. It’s a odd experience to have to fight your way to go inside–and then have the bar be quiet and empty!
While I didn’t quite make it a nuit blanche, I did have a few drinks and a lot of fun. If you ever plan a summer trip to France, I’d definitely try to schedule it to catch this awesome tradition.