Yesterday (6/21) was a bit of a magical day in Toulouse, as it was the Fête de la Musique. What is that, you ask? Well, apparently it’s a gigantic music festival that happens on the summer solstice every year in practically every country aside from the United States (who knew?). I’ve also seen it referred to as, “World Music Day.” This year, there was a huge concert/festival in Toulouse, with bands, drum corps, and DJs practically around every corner playing music until all hours of the night. In sum, it’s a delightful tradition I’m surprised the US hasn’t adopted/co-opted. This would be right up San Francisco’s alley, for sure.
Now, I said “this year” in my last paragraph. In the brief googling I’ve done, I cannot tell if this is a large festival that moves around cities within France, where the largest is hosted by a different city each year OR if this happens in EVERY city, EVERY year. My French teacher said it happens every year, so I’m going to assume that’s a true statement.
Basically, it’s just a giant dance party on every road throughout the city. For example, the bar across the street from us had a DJ who started spinning late 90s/early 2000s tunes (think Ashanti, Aaliyah [sidenote, I didn’t know she was actually married to R Kelly for a year.], Eve, J-Lo & Ja-Rule, Craig David, immediate post N-Sync Justin Timberlake, Destiny’s Child, etc.) around 4pm and kept going until well after 1am. Or the numerous drum corps throughout the city (we saw one group a few nights ago during this Night Party near the Victor Hugo), or the small bands. Heck, we even heard a Gwar-ish band playing what sounded a lot like Zeppelin’s, “Immigrant Song,” eventhough it was not. If it was a genre, it was being played somewhere in the city. And beer and wine were flowing freely almost everywhere. There are no open containers laws in France (hooray!), so you can buy a beer and then walk all over with it (which we did). It sorta reminded me of a music festival, but in city streets, which was really interesting and quite fun.
Aside from the side concerts, the Capitole area was blocked off (you needed to request tickets/wristbands back in May) for a big concert that was hosted (I think) by the head of the Symphony. This concert was also broadcasted on television, channel France 2. Since we didn’t have wristbands (and Jim had a big presentation the following day), we watched the late night Capitole portion from our couch. I think if I was doing it again, I’d plant myself along the Garonne (like the featured photo) and just hang out/enjoy everything from there.
I found a few recordings from the Capitole concert on YouTube. Not totally my cup of tea, but you can see how pretty it was here and here (on this one, we felt they should’ve changed the lyrics from NY to Toulouse) and here.
In sum, I recommend traveling to France on/around 6/21, as you’ll be able to catch some amazing (& FREE) live music in a context that doesn’t really exist in the US.
Did I say I’m glad we moved?