Annie Bananie en Europe

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Tag Archives: concert

La fête de la musique à Bordeaux

There is something about music that touches the depths of your soul, that harmonizes with every electrical pulse that runs through your body, that makes you want to jump or dance or scream or cry. Music is the universal language of expression, a ubiquitous medium that transcends through time and space, race and culture. That is why we celebrate it…with la fête de la musique!

The music festival is an annual event that takes place in France. In almost every city, from the afternoon till well past midnight, there are concerts, performances, and dances everywhere. According to a French ex-colleague, it is THE biggest event of the year. Coming from an authentic local, I knew I couldn’t miss it. I experienced the hype in Bordeaux two years ago but wasn’t here last year as I was in Belgium, but this year, the timing was perfect as June 21st fell on a Friday! Most of the fun happened around downtown, and since I live in downtown Bordeaux anyway, I figured I’d take full advantage of the walkable distance and spend the night immersing myself in the musical scenes of Bordeaux.

Oh, bonus: it didn’t rain! I totally expected the rain to continue, as it had been raining almost all week in Bordeaux – quite violently too! But God had been nice with us and sent us the sun to accompany our music. Let the magic begin.

I left the house at around 8:30pm and started at Place Pey Berland, going towards Rue Sainte-Catherine and towards the quai. Even the restaurants had their own events going on. Literally, there was something taking place in every corner of downtown. You just had to follow your ear and as soon as the previous sound of music faded away, another welcomed you. Who knows what concert you’d stumble upon next? 😉

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Fête de la Musique

Apologies for missing last week’s entry! I had been busy this week with guests over at my small but cozy apartment almost every night, and I really haven’t any time alone to sit down and catch up on blogging. Alas, let’s hope it picks up again from here!

I wanted to write about the music of the city of Bordeaux, in particular the Fête de la Musique – or Music Festival – that took place on June 21. It’s been two weeks, I know, but still worth writing about.

According to a colleague of mine, this was THE summer festival of Bordeaux. Starting in the afternoon and lasting all the way until way past midnight, music (and crowds) filled every corner of the city. From street to street, enthusiastic Bordelais danced into the night to jazz, rock, blues, hip hop…you name it! Of course, our adorable friends from the public transit sector decided to take a break on the same day in the form of a strike, thereby paralyzing public transit in the downtown core. I don’t blame them though; I mean, after all, everyone deserves a break sometimes, and who wouldn’t want to join in the festivities? The entire downtown area was so full of people that it would have been impossible for trams to operate through them anyway.

Anyway, music – and art in general – really is a prominent feature of an European life. I’ve noticed within the past few weeks that you can find music everywhere, every day in the city of Bordeaux. It’s not uncommon to attend an organ concert at a cathedral, or chance upon an orchestra playing near the quays, or catch a jazz trio performing by a restaurant while a lady moved to the rhythm, or walk by pairs of tango dancers by the river.

And so, you immerse yourself in the beautiful musical culture, and become absorbed in the sound.

The afternoon started with a chorale at the city hall. It was the first time that I entered the courtyard of the hôtel de ville, which was literally 2 minutes away from my house.

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When the river awakes

Every year, the city of Bordeaux celebrates one of two things. Since 2011 is an odd number year, it was the time for…Fête le Fleuve! On June 18 and 19, the quays of Bordeaux awoke to the call of the river as the celebration began with dances, concerts, and of course, a spectacular firework at the end of both days. It rained a little during the afternoon on Saturday, but thank God the skies were clear the rest of the time, especially during the fireworks!

(If you were wondering, wine is celebrated in even number years, as if you hadn’t already guessed that.)

The great thing about Bordeaux during the summer is its many festivals that fill the city with music and animation; the bad thing is that transit workers tend to strike on those days. Yup, services from 6h30 till 20h00 with a frequency of 10 to 12 minutes per train (20 to 25 minutes on Sunday) certainly didn’t sound very convenient for an event that was supposed to last all night long. I don’t know if it’s intentional, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is. Perhaps they want to party as well. This of course makes it difficult for people who live outside the city center to gain access to where most of the activities are, since public transit is rather vital in Bordeaux. I am lucky to be living right in the center of downtown, so Fête le Fleuve was the perfect time for me to get out and immerse fully in the festivities.

The festival was grand. The entire downtown area from Quinconces to la Bourse was filled with people out to enjoy the entry to summer. Never have I seen so many people all at once in Bordeaux before. And never has the Garonne seemed so gorgeous before, so elegant, so OURS.

Welcome to Bordeaux, the beautiful land of wine!

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More life in Louvain-la-Neuve

Back to Bordeaux for a week, and already I feel like I’ve left all of Louvain-la-Neuve behind. It wasn’t like this the other way around. When I went to Louvain-la-Neuve, I wasn’t able to let go of Bordeaux for a good two weeks or so. That’s the power of a city with streets you love and people you miss.

Sinking back into the French lifestyle was easy. All you have to do is…do nothing. Nah, I kid. I do have to work, but I have to admit that the pace in France is significantly slower than Belgium. In Louvain-la-Neuve, there were times during my stay that I felt like I was running out of time, that I wouldn’t be able to get any results with my experiments. Back here, yeah I again have limited time, but the mentality somehow just completely changed. I am way more relaxed and I convince myself that I’ll get everything done on time. I can take it slow and easy.

Blah. Is this my lame excuse for my own laziness? Perhaps, but I’ve learned enough time management to know better than leaving things until the last minute now. I think I can proudly say that I am slowly getting rid of my nemesis in university, named procrastination. It has improved a lot since then, and I am no longer pulling my hair minutes before a deadline. Thank goodness.

In terms of stuff to do outside the lab, it was almost non-existent in Louvain-la-Neuve. Upon my return to Bordeaux, I realized how lively Bordeaux is during the summer, with events and festivals all over the place! I am going to a Beethoven/Wagner concert next week, then Saturday and Sunday is Fête le Fleuve! Dance shows, outdoor concerts, and of course fireworks…I can’t wait to see what the quais have to offer this time!

Here’s some more on life in Louvain-la-Neuve, the last for awhile. The next time I go back will probably be October of this year, if all works out well.

Random sculptures found along the road during a walk through the woods near the city center. I found a lot of interesting sculptures like these scattered around the campus, each unique in its own sense.

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