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Posts tagged ‘Édith Piaf’

No. 163: Café Music


I am a sucker for French café and street music. And now that spring seems to have sprung in Paris, the accordion players and buskers are starting to reemerge around the city to serenade the tourists and locals. I suppose it is a bit cliché, but I still find it charming. I’ve always wanted to have a soundtrack to my life, and in some moments in France, this is the perfect theme song. Take a listen while you sip your morning café or evening apéro.

Sous le ciel de Paris – Under the Paris sky

No. 110: Musicians on the Métro

Paris MetroI ride the métro a fair bit, especially when I am taking French classes. It’s not my preferred form of transport, that would be my feet or the Velib (the fantastic bike share program found throughout France). If those options won’t get me where I need to be, than I try to hop on a bus before heading underground.

But when I do have to head down under, the Paris métro is fast and efficient. It could be a little cleaner and I’d like it if it was less crowded, but all in all, it’s a marvelous system. Some days though, like in any big city, jumping on the métro in Paris can just be a slog. Everyone is cranky, no one smiles, and sometimes people smell.

It always cheers me up though when I open a carriage to find a musician entertaining the commuters. I’m not sure how the French feel about them. Not many travelers open their wallets when the musicians pass their cup, but they always brighten my day, and if I have cash, I toss something in.

Sometimes they are just singers alone with their speaker and microphone. Sometimes one musician may have six instruments. I have even seen a five-piece band. I was completely devastated when I missed the Hungarian sting quartet struggling to get their cellist off the métro just as I was getting on.

Paris Musicians on the Metro

And in case you are wondering, there is absolutely no shortage of accordion maestros in this town.

I’ve heard a lot of really bad Frank Sinatra, some so-so Edith Piaf, some crazy, lyrical poetry jam, some pretty decent opera, and a lot of average Paris café music.

Paris musicians

I give these people a lot of credit, we are not the friendliest crowd. But I for one am glad they choose to get up every day and try to earn a living. The good, the bad and the great, they all make me smile.

No. 17: Edith Piaf

www.cineoutsider.comToday is the 50th anniversary of the death of the celebrated cabaret singer Edith Piaf.

Over the last nine months, there have been numerous Piaf tributes both in France and around the world. I have been a little bit surprised by this because while I (as an expat and Francophile) see her as a national treasure, I guess I suspected that the French saw her only as one BIG French cliché.

Think of France, and especially Paris, and what comes to your mind? Outdoor cafés, baguettes, buttery croissants, men is blue and white striped shirts, women in floral dresses riding bicycles, cigarettes, berets, strolling along the Seine, wine, cheese, shared kisses by the Eiffel Tower… and all with the music of Edith playing in the background. For some reason I thought the French had outgrown her, even moved on, and maybe preferred to be associated with what’s good and modern in France today.

I was quite mistaken. This morning the anniversary of her death was a lead story on all the major news channels. Each story was a touching tribute to a post-war icon, “a symbol of French passion and tenacity.”

Marche Av Saxe

Mme vendeuse de légumes sings la vie en rose

Then while shopping at the marché a few hours later, my favorite vendeuse, and purveyor of the best and most beautiful produce, was cheerily helping her customers while exuberantly singing La vie en rose…

…it was so lovely and so charming and exactly why I love living in France.

Listen along to hear Edith singing it herself in 1954.


La vie en rose: Life through rose-colored glasses, literally: life in pink

vendeur/vendeuse: vendor, seller, salesperson