French president resumes pre-COVID gig

PARIS, France (AFP) – French President Emmanuel Macron invited music fans to a socially distanced techno party at the presidential palace yesterday, reviving a pre-COVID event to mark the country’s annual street music festival.

France celebrates music in all its forms with a giant street party on June 21.

In 2018 Macron began throwing open the cobbled courtyard of the Elysee Palace to dance fans on that day, with a gig featuring stars from France’s electro scene.

This year’s Fete de la Musique came a day after the French Government scrapped an 11:00 pm curfew, one of the last steps in a phased lifting of COVID restrictions.

Last year’s festivities went ahead but were muted because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, with the number of infections at their lowest level in nearly a year, the country is in party mode once more.

While bad weather put a dampener on events in some cities, more hardy souls were undeterred.

“Seeing people, their smiles, it feels good,” said Laure, 40, who had taken her two nine-year-old children to a show despite the drizzling rain in the north-western port city of Brest.

“We heard there were mini concerts and we went out, wanting to relax and enjoy ourselves.”

Groups of musicians — from classical to rock — played at pop-up events across the French capital, adding a new layer of life to the slowly reopening Parisian social scene.

Just days after the tennis open, centre court at Roland-Garros played host to around 40 artistes — including Patrick Bruel, Vianney and Kendji Girac — performing in front of 4,000 seated and masked spectators.

Crooners gave way to dance tunes at the presidential palace, with French electronic music pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre and 1970s disco king Cerrone headlining the concert in the courtyard where Macron normally greets visiting heads of state.

In contrast to previous editions when Macron and his wife Brigitte have gamely joined in the dancing, concertgoers had to content themselves with tapping their feet.

Attendees were asked to remain seated and social distancing was to be observed.

To mark this year’s festival, the Government announced that nightclubs, which have been closed for 15 months, will reopen on July 9.

Clubbers will have to present a new health pass showing they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, have a clean PCR test, or have already have had the virus.

Masks will not be obligatory in clubs, which will only be allowed to operate at 75 per cent of their capacity, Alain Griset, the minister in charge of small businesses, said.

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