Fête de la Musique

Banks of the Seine by Expat Edna

Let’s say you’re in Paris, and it’s the first day of summer.

It’s the longest day of the year, it’s June 21, it’s Fête de la Musique.

Where do you go? What do you do?

Seine strolling by Expat Edna

Maybe you head down to the banks of the Seine.

Left Bank, Right Bank; Pont Neuf, Pont Marie — doesn’t matter, every inch of cobblestone is going to be packed with picnickers.

devon's fete de la musique picnic by Expat Edna

You’ll find your friends eventually on the Right Bank, gathered to celebrate both Fête de la Musique and your friend Devon‘s birthday with a super-picnic-singalong.

Along the Seine by Expat Edna

fete de la musique seine picnic by Expat Edna

But first, to picnic. Some bread, some cheese, some wine. Some lovely views: Notre Dame to the right, the Îles ahead; friends both old and new all around to chat to.

And of course, many glasses of bubbly.

fete de la musique picnic with friends by Expat Edna

Eventually the guitars come out and jams start flowing. It’s a night for making music, after all (plus, the birthday girl happens to be a professional singer. A singalong is unavoidable).

fete de la musique singalong by Expat Edna

Dusk falls as you go through acoustic covers of No Scrubs and the Beatles and Jackson 5 hits.

musical friends at fete de la musique by Expat Edna

Occasionally, you’ll have to solve lyric disputes or find the next chord progression. Make sure your phone is charged for this.

fete de la musique paris blue hour by Expat Edna

fete de la musique blue hour by Expat Edna

Blue hour will hit — that’s when Paris really sparkles. The revelry will continue. It might get a little chilly out though, so bring a blanket or a jacket, just in case. (Beer helps with this, too.)

devon's fete de la musique birthday singalong by Expat Edna

fete de la musique after sunset by Expat Edna

When it gets dark, really dark, and half your torso is numb from sitting on stone for hours, and you’ve waved at the bugillionth tourist bateaux headed towards Notre Dame, and it’s probably not even a safe idea to be sitting so close to an unguarded body of water anymore — that’s when you move onto phase two of the night (or for some people, phase three or five or eight).

st michel fountain by Expat Edna

Maybe you’ll have a quick dip in the fountain at Place St Michel, though it’s not recommended (not only for the matter of questionable hygenics, but also because drunk men will moon-bomb your photo)…

fete de la musique all night metro by Expat Edna

Then maybe you’ll hop on the metro that runs all night — a rare and joyous occasion when no one has to worry, “but I have to catch last metro!” — even if it does involve a considerable wait between trains and is packed with happy tipsy young folk (with whom you become best friends during the chatty few minutes you’re squashed together on the 12)…

glass on fete de la musique by Expat Edna

And maybe you’ll go to Glass in Pigalle — because you know they stay open late late — and maybe you’ll dance around the tiny space like a fool until it’s closing time and you lock up with the bartenders…

pigalle on the first night of summer by Expat Edna

And then maybe you walk home as the sun starts to rise again.

And having done any or part or all of that, you’ve just set yourself up for a hell of a summer.

Fête de la Musique is every June 21 in Paris (and around the world). This was how I celebrated last year — and it’s one of my favorite memories from my entire two years in Paris. The city stays up all night, there’s music everywhere, everyone is just so happy to be. Come out for it sometime if you can.

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  1. This looks amazing, I felt like I was right there with you! Truly a fabulous way to celebrate summer’s return. It seems like it’s nights like these that make you really fall in love with Paris (or other city of choice).

  2. Sounds like such a lovely evening! Beautiful photos.

  3. alecia says:

    I love this (and you) so much.

  4. You have written this post so beautifully , and the pictures are just too damn exquisite . Hope you had a great time this year at the fete de la musique . Loads of love :)

  5. So good. Wish I could have shared this memory with you! Meet you back in Paris in 10? ;) xo

  6. Edna, I love this post so much! You captured the night so beautifully! This brought back so many good memories. You were very missed this year, wish we could have shared another Fête de la Musique!

  7. This looks like a magical evening and a great way to experience Paris!

  8. Looks like so much fun & I’m only sorry that Tony & I missed this by just a few weeks during our recent time in Paris. We did get to squeeze in one picnic by the Seine however, and there was still a little bit of random guitar playing happening, but somehow I feel like it probably wasn’t the same!

  9. I wanna go!!! Edna, your blog posts are always so great at really transporting me there. I just got back from my romp around Europe, and while I didn’t go to Paris this blog makes me miss that exalted continent so freaking bad. And my favorite jacket is the beer jacket :)

  10. Sounds like a wonderful kick start to the summer to me! What a fun idea to picnic on the banks of the river, and finish up dancing until the wee hours of the night. I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself in Paris once again. Is it good to be back?

  11. Looks like a fun day!



  1. […] hit. Fête de la Musique was a celebration of not only friends and music and nights that last till morning, but also […]