There is no better time to plan a trip to France than in late June when the temperature is 70°F all day and the sun doesn’t set until 11:00 at night. While I did know that being in Paris during this time was wonderful for the lovely weather and summer festivities, I didn’t know that my last day in Paris would be spent on Le Fête de la Musique, France’s annual music festival.
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My friends and I had decided our last day in the country was going to be spent exploring and seeing the sights Paris has to offer. However, as we began exploring the Latin Quarter on June 21st, we noticed the high paced tempo that didn’t usually surround the area at 10am. As we rounded the corner out of a petit café I nearly stumbled into a father and his five year old son playing French accordions perfectly in sync with one another. I stared slightly fascinated at this small boy playing so well and he gave me a partly toothless grin. Too cute to resist, I dropped un euro into their tin plate and moved on with the rest of the group.
We hadn’t even made it halfway down the street when we saw a lone man playing another accordion, dressed to fit the part of a young French boy trying to make his way. He sang an upbeat tune in his language, and while I could only understand pieces, he had me smiling by the time he was finished. I went up to him after his performance was complete and inquired why there were so many people out at this time of day. He looked at me quizzically and I wondered if maybe he didn’t speak English. But he replied to me “Mademoiselle, it’s Le Fête de la Musique! People be dancing and playing music all day!”
Wide-eyed I turned around toward my friends and told them what I discovered. Excitement enveloped us- how lucky were we to be in Paris on our last day for France’s annual music festival?! After we absorbed this new knowledge we decided to wander the streets and stumbled upon a few amazing concerts. My favorite was not over-the-top, but instead consisted of high school students from Denmark. We had just sat down in a park across from Le Notre Dame when a beautiful melody reached our ears. Realization dawned on us- could it be? Yes it was! None other than Rocky’s theme song “Eye of the Tiger” was being played by these Denmark students. One of my friends broke out singing and we all joined in and danced, not caring who was watching, as twenty saxophones tooted away our beloved melody.
After that priceless moment I made a promise to myself to come back to France on Le Fête de la Musique another year. Getting lost and exploring Paris on a day when the city is most full of life, fun, and magic was an unforgettable experience. Being in a city that represents the heart of a country’s culture on a significant day is something I would like to include in all my future travels. You become a local through cultural immersion and have an experience that sticks with you for the rest of your life.
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