Last night I went to my first French music festival. My 23-year-old Toulouse host said I must try a summer concert in the South of France so I traveled with her to the small town of Pau for a night of insane dancing, drinking and jumping up and down while singing foreign words I don’t know. Maybe I’m getting an air of French snobbery but I’m not going to attend concerts in the US anymore. I’m just going to fly to France when I need my festival fix. The night was one of the best of my life! They did everything better than us. What exactly?
1. The music was upbeat, energizing and fabulous.
The songs were in French and I didn’t understand them but I sang along with the rest of the crowd. Three bands played that I particularly liked: Caravan Palace, La Rue Ketanou and Ska-p. The above vid has clips from the night’s lineup. Or click here for a full PLAYLIST.
2. The crowd was out of control.
Singing, dancing and making friends all around you. I have never seen such an energetic group of people dance so hard for six hours straight. Everyone shared beer, wine and food with the people around them. We made dozens of friends and were singing and dancing with our neighbors all night.
3. It is cheap!
For 18 euros I saw seven bands and danced like crazy from 5pm to 2am.
4. The toilets were artistic and clean!
When I go to an outdoor music festival I just accept that I will be waiting in long lines to hold my nose and squat above a shit- filled hole. Mais, jamais avec Les Francais! The bathroom doors at the Pau festival were covered with paintings and lines from famous literature — such as Shakespeare — and poems. They had a full staff who cleaned — with a sponge and disenfectant spray! — each stall after every single person used the toilet. After you pee you put a bale of hay over the pee to get rid of the smell. The men all peed in the haystacks surrounding so you knew if they were in line they had to go #2…
5. The beer was cheap (free!)
When you bought a beer you got a plastic mug “on loan” for 1 euro. If you returned the mug at the end of the night you got the euro back. So I just found four plastic cups lying on the ground and returned them for four euros and bought myself two beers (2 euros each for Belgian beer!). Essentially the beer was free!