As late the first week of June, I was starting to think that summer would never come to Alsace. Gray skies and constant rain were starting to take a toll on everyone’s mood. So last Friday, after a week or so of sun and clear skies, we had more reasons than ever to celebrate the Fête de la Musique.
Created in 1982 by the French Ministry of Culture, the Fête de la Musique is an annual summer festival that showcases French musical talent and ushers in the summer. Thousands of musicians across the country rock and roll the night away in the streets of their cities, from Lyon to Paris to tiny little villages lost in the Jura.
Here in Strasbourg, I was amazed by the number of people packed into every street in the city. Everyone from toddlers to teenagers to retirees milled about, occassionally stopping to shake and shimmy in front of a hip-hop group’s Zumba show, join in a line dance with some country artists, or simply grab a beer from a bar or nightclub that had moved their activities into the street for the night. We made our way to Place Kléber in the very center of Strasbourg to see the main event: the French musician Cali (know for his hit “Je m’en vais,” which you can listen to by clicking here). The plaza was completely packed and those living in the surrounding apartments watched the festivities from their balconies.
I was impressed by such a large-scale, city-wide event that went on without incident- okay, a siren blared here and there from time to time and a little police presence was obvious, but the musicians rocked away until the morning hours and I fell into bed that night convinced that a great summer was here to stay.