Street musicians playing on the north side of place de la Bastille in Paris.

Tuning into café life: Musicians perform to evening driners outside a café in place de la Bastille. Published on page 36 in The Connexion, November 2003.

Disco is out, live is Cool
Musicians draw celebrities and the hip back to cafés and bistros

A-list celebrities and everyday Parisians are turning their backs icon on a Paris nightlife, the discothèque, as cafés and bistros win them back with live music.

The discos are still pumping out the re-recorded and pre-mixed music but numbers are down on the dance floor. These days the hippest places to be seen are small bars and bistros that provide food, wine, and live music.

In Paris, live music is experiencing a boom in popularity, not seen since technology-based music hit France in the 1980s.

The young and fashionable of Paris are flocking to venues such as the canal barges, Batofar and Makara, where they can enjoy nights ranging in theme from flamenco to swing, Cithéa, which hosts jazz nights, and Reservoir, which features an eclectic array of up-and-coming musicians.

The trend took off last year when popular French singer Patrick Bruel embarked on his sell-out Entre Deux tour. Bruel performed a collection of vintage French songs dripping with sentimentality and nostalgia in a venue designed to make the audience believe they were patrons at a smoky Paris bar. The stage was a scene from a black and white movie, complete with street lamp, bar and tables, and a cast of men and women twirling around a dance floor to the music. Following the success of the tour, the A-list of Paris jumped on the live venue bandwagon. Reigning queen of French film Monica Bellucci recently declared the cabaret music hall Le Zèbre to be her favorite venue and can be regularly spotted there with husband Vincent Cassel.

—by Margaret Ambrose