Saturday was the longest day of the year, the first day of summer and the Fête de la Musique, one of the best days in Paris. We took our morning showers to the best of U2 and the like being performed by a group of local 40 somethings who had set up at the hole-in-the-wall Italian dive downstairs. After our boxing class on the Berges de la Seine, we sat back and enjoyed a bit of modern flamenco dancing, the Seine, framed by the leafy trees of the Tuileries acting as a stage set. In the afternoon we enjoyed Monacos (beer with gernadine syrup) for sun bathed apèro at a neighborhood café, listening to jazz interpretations of Beatles music. A bit later on, the Prime Minister hosted a concert at Matignon with music ranged from Hip Hop to gypsy jazz and as night fell the streets around Odeon were dotted with local amateur bands. Every genre filled the air waves creating a curious blend and not at all the cacophony one would expect. My Fête de la Musique favorites are a gentleman who stands on the rue de Seine, near the rue des Beaux Arts leading the crowd in sing-alongs of old French songs, and the Five Frogs that play French and American classic pop hits on the rue Soufflot. They are so great with a crowd that they had some rather uptight Parisiennes dancing on the tables. It was such an amazing evening that this aging Cinderella was happy to stay out well past her fairy godmother’s curfew and didn’t start heading home until sometime after 1am…
Music was in the air, hanging slightly above the stratosphere and brightening Sunday morning for a relaxed, happy Paris. At the Luxembourg Gardens, we were delighted to find that the Polish Cultural Institute is hosting free Chopin piano concerts every Sunday in June at 17h, guaranteeing a delightful hour spent under the chestnut trees. At least for some. The hour was a lot less delightful for the staff at the café that is behind the gazebo, as they were forced to confront audacious Parisiennes who thought nothing of stealing the cafés chairs to enjoy the show.
The chairs look identical to all the other chairs in the gardens, and in some cases, it may have been an honest mistake. In either case, incompetent thieves and honest squatters alike, were oblivious to the fact that the chairs are clearly marked with logos on the back, indicating that they either belong to the café, or the French Senat. When approached by the servers, everyone’s first response was that of surprised outrage. Once they were shown the logo, a few relinquished their chairs and went on to find other solutions. But the die hard Parisiennes would have none of it. One started screaming at the server, her voice drowning out the sounds of the Polish virtuoso thousands of were there to hear. Another simply ignored the server until he would no longer be ignored. Tired of dealing with people exhibiting an over blown sense of entitlement, he simply tilted the chair forward, sliding her right out and on to her own feet. Madame grabbed her friend and they both stormed off in an outrage.
Having a coveted seat, made it into a game for those who were finally ready to leave their seats. An American gentleman took his lounge chair and carried half way across the space, offering it to much older lady. Mr French and I debated whether to hand ours off to the young mother who was sitting in the Luxembourg dirt, nursing a small child, or the much older lady who was standing a meter to our right. Age won over beauty and we strolled back through the park, the sounds waves cushioning our steps as we headed home to face the week ahead.
Wow indeed. What entitlements. And what a nice day. I’ve never been in Paris for this event–something to think about.