Buskers. Montpellier. May 2012

After three miserable days of cold and rain I was beginning to think that Spring had taken its leave from the south of France this year but today burst full of warm sun and smiles and restored my faith in this part of the world as just about the best place I can think of to spend a few lazy days.

These are the days that Zebda’s “Tomber la Chemise” was written for. You can some idea of how well that song fits here, but for mine this live recording from Sala Apolo in Barcelona from 2003 says it all.

Not that my time here has been slack – I’m here to attend and present at the 13th Congress of the International Society of Ethnobiology at Montpellier. Today was that rare thing at any conference – a free day.

Rue des Augustins, Montpellier

I took myself on a field trip through the old town of Montpellier, stopping off at some music shops, a few bars, a coutellerie, buying a return ticket to Nimes on Saturday for the Feria de Pentecôte and just poking around the old part of town, which is all narrow curved streets that run up to the Prefecture in it’s centre.

Montpellier’s old town is a great place to spend a few hours – if not days. There is still a lot for me to find there yet between its walls of creamy-yellow rock.

Rue Embouque d'or, Montpellier

Eventually thirst and the need for a feed got the better of me and I settled for a late lunch and a few cold beers at Le Cafe Riche in the Place de la Comedie on one side of the large square that stands between the old town and the (relatively) new.

I was half way though my last beer when two young buskers set up in front of the cafe, he with a squeezebox and all of the brass, class and front of a seasoned performer, his younger sister hesitant and less assured.

They rattled off a few tunes for the passing parade and received a few donations.

As I finished my beer and wandered over to drop a Euro in their paper cup an old man stopped by and told them: “Vous êtes de vrais artistes …

Vous êtes de vrais artistes ...

Never truer words said.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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