The 'Banda Municipale de Santiago
de Cuba'

photo: cafe le menhir

Brittany on your mind in Paris - 'Le Menhir'

Atlantic Coast Holidays

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 7. August 2000:- Last week's little mention of the musical events near or at La Villette brought an immediate question from the server-lady, Linda Thalman.

She wanted to know if the group called 'La Banda Municipale de Santiago' which I wrote would be appearing at yesterday's Kiosque à Musique was the same as 'La Banda Municipale de Santiago de Cuba.'

"If so," she said, "I've got to be there!"

Regular readers might remember that Linda recently made a visit to Cuba. Apparently while there she spent a lot of time listening to Cuban music as well as drinking some of the local cocktails - mostly doing both at the same time, as well as dancing.

One of her favorite bands was the 'La Banda Municipale de Santiago de Cuba,' and she didn't want to miss them if they were in Paris.

The next question involved the location of La Villette. The area occupied by the Cité des Sciences, the Cité de la Musique, the Grande Halle, the Géode and several other odds and ends - collectively known officially as the Parc de la Villette - is an area approximately 600photo: orchestra banda municipal de santiago de cuba metres wide by one kilometre long - from the métro at Porte de la Villette to the métro at Porte de Pantin.

'La Banda' - yesterday in Paris at La Villette.

The area is also bordered by the Canal Saint-Denis on the west and the Canal d'Ourcq slices right through the middle of it. These things are not hard to spot on a map.

To say the least, La Villette is a sizeable piece of Paris in the 19th arrondissement, at Paris' extreme northeast corner.

Yesterday's weather wasn't too disagreeable so I went out to La Villette again to see if Linda had found it and to hear her favorite Cuban sounds as made by the 'La Banda Municipale de Santiago de Cuba.'

The first thing I noticed is that the open-air 'Ciné l'Eté' is well-advertised - this continues until Sunday, 3. September; and starts every night except Monday about 22:00. The second thing I noticed was that the walk from the métro Porte de Pantin is long.

And long before I got to the canal I could hear the band. Cubans play loudly. Before I could see the band at the Kiosque à Musique, I saw the backs of a lot of people who were climbing the bridge over the canal. From the bridge, I saw that many more Cuban fans were gathered than for last week's free African-reggae concert.

The sun kept trying to come out, with some success, and the closely-packed crowd tried to dance. I guess this was successful too, but it was hard to see.

Linda found me wandering around in this mob of Cuban music fans, so the question of whether somebody from the outback regions of the Cadillac Ranch can find La Villette is answered with 'yes.'

'La Banda Municipale de Santiago de Cuba' is certainly worth travelling across Paris to hear, even if their show was free. Announced as a 'brass' band, it did have a fair amount of brass along with a large-sized portion of Cuban percussion. The only things missing were white sand, the gulf stream, rum and palms. I'm glad I went.

France's Atlantic Coast

Despite my theory that last Tuesday was Paris' one summer day this summer, the short-term forecast is for summer to continue in August.

July's pessimists have all jammed themselves onto the Côte d'Azur and on the crescent ofphoto: concorde fountain statue coast facing the Golfe de Lion for their holidays.

This has left plenty of room free on France's channel and Atlantic coasts. If you are undecided and want to have a holiday with some elbow-room, you should seriously consider France's western side.

One of the statues in Concorde's 'La Fontaine des Mers.'

The Atlantic is never so temperate as the Mediterranean because it is open sea; and a sea with more character because it has tides and big waves when it feels like it. Count on water temperatures three or four degrees below the Mediterranean's.

There are places with sand dunes. Mos places also have fairly steady winds and TV has shown clips of surfers with the flying parachutes - is this the term? - having serious fun doing things if would have considered impossible if I had not seen them.

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