Summertime in France!

Lavender festival in Provence, July 1st – August 31st

(Lavender fields in Provence. Photo: AFP)
Head down to the ever-charming Provence in southern France to experience what must be the nicest smelling festival in the world – the Lavender festival. The flowers are in full bloom over the next two months (the festival runs until the end of August), so you’ve got plenty of time to see anything and everything when it comes to the purple jewel of southern France.
Festival d’Avignon, July 2nd to 26th, 

(Performers put on a free show in Avignon at the 2014 festival. Photo: AFP)
Founded in 1947, this is one of the most respected annual arts festivals in France – and it’s it’s going to be big. This year’s show has a budget of €13.3 billion and expects to bring in €26 billion. It will have around 50 shows in 20 locations for around 300 performances, with room for 500 journalists from around France and the world. It runs until the July 26th.
Eurockéennes de Belfort Festival, July 3rd to 5th

(Prepare for wild times at the Eurockéenees festival. Photo: AFP)
This three-day music gig in eastern France is one of the countries biggest rock festivals and has attracted enormous names in the past from David Bowie to Jay-Z. If you’re struggling to pronounce the festival’s name, it’s a cross between Européenes and rock… Eu-rock-éenes. This year has some big names too, like Sting, The Chemical Brothers, Die Antwoord, and Damien Marley. And it’s not too pricey, with a day pass costing just €45 and giving you access to the nearby campsite too.
The Tour de France, July 4th to 26th, 

(Last year’s champion Vincenzo Nibali. Photo: AFP)
The Tour de France is the world’s favourite cycling race, and it will take place all over France almost all month. It kicks off on the 4th in the Netherlands, then winds its way across northern France for two weeks, with racers tackling southern France for the second half of the month. This year marks the 102nd edition, and will see competitors race try to reach the finish line at the Champs-Elysées in Paris on July the 26th.
Festival Terres du Son (Val de Loire), July 10th to 12th
This central France gig is a relatively young festival, with 2015 marking the tenth edition. A three-day pass costs just over €60, and you can see a bunch of acts from France and abroad, headlined by Fauve.
 Peacock Society Festival, July 10th to 11th

(French DJ Laurent Garnier. Photo: AFP)
Over 30 international DJs in two days promises a crazy party for any techno fans in Paris. The event will be held at the Parc Floral, which is inside the Bois de Vincennes in the 12th arrondissement. Keep an eye out for French DJ Laurent Garnier and Dixon, but also Loco Dice, Nina Kraviz, and Talaboman.
 Jazz Festival in Juan Les Pins, July 10th – 19th

(British performer Sting at the 2013 festival. Photo: AFP)
This is the longest running jazz festival in Europe, with 2015 marking the 55th edition. The festival kicks off on the 10th in Juan-les-Pins, near Antibes in south eastern France. The area is something of a jazz mecca, and has drawn big names in the past like Louis Armstrong, and more recently international artists like Maurice Chevalier, Mistinguett and Charles Trénet.
There’s an extensive line-up this year. If you’re really into your jazz, there’s another festival in Nice this month from the 7th to the 12th of July .
Bastille Day, Paris, July 14th, 

(Fireworks at the Eiffel Tower on Bastille Day. Photo: AFP)
France’s national day, known as Bastille Day, on July 14th is the probably the highlight of the month. Apart from being a public holiday, the day, which commemorates the start of the French revolution, will see celebrations up and down the country but the place to be is almost certainly the Champs Elysées in Paris.
You can join the president of France on the country’s most famous avenue for a military parade and flyover. Then in the evening you’ll need to get a good view of the Eiffel Tower to watch the spectacular firework show.
Firemen’s ball, July 13th/14th
One of the best and perhaps peculiar Bastille traditions in France is the annual fireman’s ball (bal des pompiers) when firefighters open their stations to the public for a good old knees up. They normally take place on July 13th and 14th and unlike Paris nightclubs are open to all ages.
July 20th to August 18th, Paris Plages

(Parisians flock to the River Seine during the summer. Photo: AFP)
The annual beach festival returns for its 14th year and promises as always to be bigger and better. This year the French capital beach party takes place between July 20th and August 18th. Most of you will know what’s it about but if not, Paris Plages basically sees tonnes of sand deposited on the right bank of the River Seine, where the cars are driven out for the benefit of the bikini/swimming trunks wearing public. Don’t forget to try the Bassin de la Villette too, which is an extension of Paris Plage. It’s generally quieter and great for kids.
La Villette Open-Air Cinema Festival, July 22nd to August 23rd, 
It’s known as “cinema under the stars” and is now an established fixture in Paris’s summer calendar. It takes place at La Villette, in the north east of the city in a big grassy park, which is taken over by families and friends who come with impressive picnics to enjoy a classic film on a giant screen as the sun goes down. This year it runs from July 22nd to August 23rd. And the best thing about it is that it’s free, unless you want to pay a few euros for a deck chair. This year’s line up includes the thrillers Ghost Writer and Take Shelter.
Source/Credit:  The Local.fr
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French Jazz Fans outsmart Hitler

Article written by Margo Lestz (The Curious Rambler)- Reblogged with permission:

France has a special place in its heart for jazz and in the summer, you’ll find jazz festivals all over the country. In fact, the world’s first international jazz festival was held in Nice, France in 1948. But France’s relationship with this music started some 30 years earlier during the World War I and developed under some interesting circumstances during the Nazi Occupation of World War II.

Jazz comes to France

During World War I, African-American soldiers introduced France to jazz. After the war, this lively new sound was the perfect accompaniment to les années folles, or “the crazy years”, when all art forms were changing and tastes turned to the unconventional and exotic. This new African-American music made people feel alive again, just what was needed after the horrors of the First World War.

Miles Davis statue – Negresco hotel in Nice.  Photo by Margo Lestz

Miles Davis statue – Negresco hotel in Nice. Photo by Margo Lestz

Hot Club

Jazz was especially appreciated by the young and in the early 1930s, a group of Parisian students formed a jazz club. At first they just met to listen to the music, but later they became ambassadors of this new sound. The Hot Club de France quickly grew into an important organisation working to promote jazz in France. Hugues Panassié was president and Charles Delaunay secretary, but in 1936 Louis Armstrong was elected Honorary President of the club and held that title until his death in 1971.

French Jazz

With the help of the Hot Club, jazz took root in post-war France. Although they appreciated the American jazz groups, the Hot Club was on the lookout for French talent. They “discovered” guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stéphane Grappelli who, along with others, became known as the Hot Club Quintet, the first “all French” jazz band.

Jazz during the occupation

When the Second World War was declared, most of the African American jazz musicians left France and the French bands were worried. Hitler wasn’t a jazz fan. He considered it a tool of the Jews and detrimental to society.

But, Hitler was more tolerant in France than in other countries. He wanted to remain on good terms with the French and use their resources for his war effort. He also planned to make Paris a recreation centre for his troops so he encouraged the entertainment industry there. Foreign tunes were absolutely forbidden but he allowed traditional music, thinking his propaganda would be better accepted if it was broadcast along with popular songs.

“Frenchified” jazz

The Hot Club took advantage of this situation and set about creating a “French history” for jazz, proclaiming it a traditional French form of music. They held conferences explaining how jazz was directly inspired by Debussy, an influential French composer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and circulated flyers detailing this invented pedigree.

They wrote books to convince Hitler and the Vichy regime of the merits of French jazz. One music critic published a book explaining how it was intrinsically French and how it could become the new European music under the Nazi regime. Hugues Panassié, president of the Hot Club, published a book addressing the Vichy regime’s argument that jazz couldn’t carry a patriotic message. In his book he claimed that jazz had simply been misunderstood and he scattered biblical passages and political quotes throughout to make it sound convincing.

louis_armstrong_aquarium_04Louis Armstrong disguised as a French man (photo: The Curious Rambler)

It’s not swing, it’s jazz

Music experts pointed out that the jazz musicians of the time were all French (the American musicians had left at the start of the war) and they made “adjustments” to make jazz seem more French. At the time the music was called “swing” in France so they started calling it “jazz” which sounded less American.

It’s not blues, it’s tristesse

The titles of songs were changed to French: “St. Louis Blues” became “Tristesse de St. Louis” and “I Got Rhythm” became “Agate Rhythm”. The names of composers were either left off or changed. Louis Armstrong’s songs were credited to Jean Sablon during that time. When they had finished, jazz looked as French as baguettes and brie. Their efforts paid off when the Nazis banned subversive “American swing” but permitted traditional “French jazz”. Of course, it was the same music, just cleverly repackaged.

Jazz and the Resistance

Hot Club members weren’t just defying the Nazis with music, many of them were active members of the Resistance. They used jazz concerts and conferences as cover to pass information to England. In 1943 the Hot Club headquarters in Paris was raided and some of its officials were arrested. Delaunay, Hot Club secretary, was released after one month, but several of the others perished in Nazi concentration camps.

However, jazz survived and kept the French company during the occupation. And when the war was over, France remained faithful to the music that, by that time, really had become woven into French culture.

Click on the video below to see Louis Armstrong learning a song in French with Claudine Panassié, daughter-in-law of Hugues Panassié, president of the Hot Club and director of the 1948 Nice Jazz Festival. It was filmed in 1969 at Armstrong’s home in Corona, New York.

History of the Nice Jazz Festival:

1948 – Nice hosted the first international jazz festival in the world. Louis Armstrong was the headliner and performances were in the opera house and the municipal casino (which once stood in Place Massena).

1972-1973 – The next jazz festival in Nice took place 23 years later. The performances were held in the garden Albert I.

1974 – The Nice jazz festival returned under the name, Grande Parade du Jazz. Musicians played on three stages in the open spaces of the garden of Cimiez. The Nice jazz festival has continued since 1974.

1994 – The name was changed to Nice Jazz Festival.

2011 – The festival moved back into the centre of town and to the garden Albert I where two stages welcome multiple performers each evening.

And All That Jazz

JUAN-LES-PINS/ANTIBES Jazz à Juan

On the Riviera, where France’s Jazz Age began in the Roaring Twenties, Europe’s oldest jazz festival, launched in 1960, is still among its very best. On the bill on the big outdoor seaside stage this summer: headliner Sting, festival faithfuls Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and John Dejohnette, rising star of baroque-classic fusion Ibrahim Maalouf and more. July 12–July 21. www.jazzajuan.com

NICE JAZZ FESTIVAL

The Nice city council is organizing the festival from 8th to 12th of July, promising five summer evenings of pure immersion in all things jazz. Last year, some 35,000 visitors from all over the world made their way to the Riviera capital to witness the spectacular event, and even larger crowds are expected this time around.

It was Nice that held the first ever world Jazz Festival in 1948, and it’s Nice that continues the tradition today, welcoming international and national jazz talents to the Placa Massèna stage for five contrasting musically themed nights: trance, tempo, energy, breath and vibration.

Local star André Ceccarelli, an undeniable fixture of the jazz world, is particularly proud of the local festival, “Nice is my city, my roots and my culture. Jazz is my life, my soul and my passion. The festival is every colour, and music bursts out of it.”

Tickets costs 35 euros and more information can be found on nicejazzfestival.fr.

The Programme:

Monday 8th: It’s trance night with performances from Guillaume Perret, Christian Scott, Jon Baptiste and Eric Legenini. Highlights include performances from Earth, Wind & Fire and André Ceccarelli.

Tuesday 9th: This night will bring the tempo with Stéphane Belmondo, Lianne la Havas, Ben Harper, Nice Jazz Orchestra, Manu Katché Quartet and international wonder Robert Glasper Experiment, who has just won the 2013 Grammy Award for best R&B album.

Wednesday 10th: For an evening of energy, don’t miss Wednesday – with Kellylee Evans, J, Stéphane Chausse, the Gerald Clayton Sextet and the Youn Sun Nah quartet. Exciting performances included from the appropriately named John Legend, who’s just 25 years old and already has nine grammy awards, as well as C2C, four-time champions of the world Disco Mix Club.

Thursday 11th: For the intriguingly titled ‘breath’ evening – José James, Raphaël Gualazzi, Etienne M’Bappé, Omer Avital Band of the East and Chick Corea & the Vigil will take the stage. Musical legend Maceo Parker, king of the groove genre, will also make an appearance.

Friday 12th: To finish on a high note, the last evening will follow the theme of ‘vibrations’ with artists Tigran – Shadow Theatre, Pedrito Martinez, Vainqueur for the Tremlin Off and Shai Maestro Trio. Esperanza Spalding, up and coming American talent with two Grammies already to her name and George Benson, winner of 10 Grammy Awards, are the main highlights for the grand finale.

“COME ON BABE, WHY DON’T WE PAINT THE TOWN… &

ALL THAT JAZZ !?”

Source/credit:  France Today and Riviera Times