Streets and theatres alive with sound of music

Jazz in Vienne music Festival
Jazz in Vienne looks stunning at sunset

France is a very musical country, with a rich lineage of composers and performers. It also provides countless opportunities to enjoy live shows. Samantha David reveals her favourites

Music occupies a special place in France whether it is folk, classical or pop, and many styles are associated with specific regions. The troubadours of Toulouse; the Burgundian school of music, the chansons of Poitou, the valse musette of Paris, Basque and Breton folk music, Corsica’s own brand of traditional music, Carpentras (Vaucluse) where the first French opera was produced... the list is endless. The Fête de la Musique on June 21 will be a wonderful opportunity to discover local musicians and their music, and France being France, the festivities will inevitably be extended across the following weekend...


Toulouse was for centuries the centre of the romantic courtly lyric poetry written and performed by troubadours to the accompaniment of a lyre.

In 1323, seven wealthy citizens, who later became known as the ‘seven troubadours’ despite not being musicians or performers themselves, created a poetry competition. It was open to troubadours, and minstrels from anywhere, but they had to write in the langue d’Oc (Occitan) rather than the langue d’oïl which was used in Paris.

They called themselves the Compagnie du Gai Savoir (The Company of Gay Learning) and the prize they offered was a golden violet, which was duly awarded at the contest held in May the following year. Over time various other flowers were added to the prize ...

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