One of the best kept secrets in Paris is the week’s long jazz festival that takes place on the outskirts of the city in Parc Floral, an easy train ride away from the Louvre on the Metro Line 1.
Every weekend from June 30 to July 22, jazz aficionados can enjoy world-class artists in an open-air setting, reveling in the perfect pairing of wine and jazz. Even if you aren’t a jazz lover, you can appreciate being outdoors on a summer day in the City of Light away from the tourist crowds.
The price of admission is laughably low, just the park entrance fee of €2.5 (just under $3). For that you get two amazing shows which take place at the covered amphitheater. You can choose to sit in the chairs in the shade or out on the grassy area surrounding it.
In the true spirit of jazz, the jazz artists are always an international mix. For example, the opening act this year features New York pianist, Guy Mintus, whose eclectic music “brings together elements from Stride piano to Turkish Makams, Indian rhythms to Bach-styled counterpoint, Jewish melodies and American jazz standards, all weaved together in his own signature style.” He is joined by French saxophonist, Pierrick Pedron and Israeli percussionist, Yinon Muallem.
And that’s just the first act.
As a tourist, this is one of those things you can do for bragging rights, something a bit out of the ordinary museum visits to the Louvre or climbing the stairs at Notre Dame, not to say they aren’t equally worthy of your time, but not exactly off-the- beaten path. And who doesn’t do that a bit when you’re traveling?
You can make a day at the Paris Jazz Festival even more interesting by stopping at the Château de Vincennes, the massive 14th Century, and very well-maintained castle ruins adjacent to Parc Floral. If you have a Paris Museum Pass, you can get in free, but otherwise just €9. Imagine Harry Potter meets French Kings meets Game of Thrones. If you are bringing children to Paris, they’ll have a field day here, as well as in Parc Floral itself with its wandering peacocks and petit train ride through the grounds.
Paris, and the South of France, have had a love affair with jazz since the first World War, when African American soldiers introduced it to the club scene. It was quickly embraced, particularly by the young, and much to the pleasure of American jazz artists, who were still working as second-class citizens in the U.S.
Nice put on the first jazz festival in 1948 just after the end of WWII, even before Americans had fully adopted the music or the talented musicians who were producing it. All just one more reason to love France and the French!
Give a new twist to your next visit to Paris by planning a day at this wonderful music event.
To get to Parc Floral and Château de Vincennes, jump on the Metro, line 1 (yellow), going toward Château de Vincennes. Get off at the last stop, and follow the crowds to the Parc, which is just around the corner. You can’t miss the Château unless you’re sleep walking as it looms over the road to the Parc Floral entrance.
More details here [in French] of artists. Park is open from 09h30 to 20h. Tickets are €2.50!!!
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Guest Post & Photographs by Seattle travel writer, Mary Kay Seales. Visit her website at: www.marykayseales.com