Argentine Tango, Busking, Crepes, and Dancing

So I’m actually wrapping up the end of the St. Gervais Grands Bals de l’Europe, which is this awesome folk festival in the center of France, but I will do a post on that soon. First, I wanted to let you know about my awesome last day in Paris last Thursday!

I got up, had cereal and headed out of the house, reversing my tuesday route. I had decided to see Notre Dame, and had brought my banjo along to keep me company. One thing that is interesting about traveling is seeing the similarities in different countries. For instance, on the train I encountered my first French Train Begger. This seems to be a fairly standerd character in many places. Most recently I have encountered him in Moscow and Buenos Aires. The speech is about the same, and is called out in a remarkably similar sing-song manner. Anyone have sightings? Also, I have never actually encountered this in the States.

Anyway, I go to the Botanical Garden where I get a call from a man, offering me a ride to the festival. I had Google translated a notice to post on a french carpooling site and he was going to the festival as well! French carpool by the way is much more established and accepted than it is in the united states. Just think, a rideshare site that isn’t craigslist and is actually used by tons of people! WOW!

I got stuck in the rain a little bit at the garden and playing music wasn’t allowed in the park (!!) so I sat under a large tree and listened to two Australian women talk about artificial insemination.  Finally the rain let up and I walked over the bridge towards Notre Dame.

I didn’t realize before that the cathedral is actually on an island in the middle of the Seine! Pretty cool. The bridge to the actual island was filled on both sides with locks that people had written or carved their names on to celebrate marriage, or sometimes just romantic involvement. 

After performing a lovelocking, the couples throw the key into the Seine.

I hung out in the back of Notre Dame for a while playing banjo which turned into busking when someone asked me if they could give me money.

I ended up making a lot of friends, being in the videos of countless Asian tourists, and having a long conversation with a man from New York about old time music and traveling. I also made 20 Euros, which more than paid for my days activities and the celebratory crepe! After hearing the ringing of the bells, I went over to the front of the cathedral and posed a little bit more:

Also in front of the cathedral there were thousands of birds which had become domesticated enough that they would eat from your hand. A man was giving away bread to children to feed to the birds. He had obviously been doing this for a long time, because the birds would follow him everywhere!

The line to get into the building (free!) had shortened at this point so I headed inside. As I probably could have guessed it was beautiful. There was mass going on and lots of singing which I always enjoy. 

Another thing that I love in churches is all the candles. 

I decided I need to keep walking (it had stayed cloudy and had gotten cold, all the french people I have met have complained about the unusually cold summer) so I headed out and walked along a different section of beaches. After doing a bit more busking under a bridge by the Seine, it was time to head over to the dancing!

I got there a bit early and stumbled upon the Israeli dance group!

Joined in and danced for half an hour before they left to move down river and the folk dancers came in.

It was Melissa’s birthday and so we had two birthday cakes lots of dancing. The same guy who had asked me if I knew about couchsurfing and if i could host him on tuesday asked me again, having forgotten. Oops! I learned a sephardic song from a young couple and got introduced to more french dancing. I’ll write more about these when I get to writing about St. Gervais, because to be totally honest I think I hadn’t quite figured it all out by this point in time, so we will pretend that I am writing this on time! Again it was rather beautiful dancing on the the river and every time the boats came by they would light up the landing and start cheering. Pretty awesome!

There was a really fun sung Mazurka

And I taught some tango:

They then called for an “American Dance” which I think was some sort of combination of Bourree [UPDATED] and Galopede (thanks to Jeff Kaufman!)

I Love Dancing!!

At the end of the evening I actually met the man who was taking me to the festival, and he knew some french songs (which were very similar to the corsican i have done!) We also sang the french and english versions of the sea shantie “Boney” which is about Napoleon so I guess makes sense! I took the subway home some dancers and was *pressured* into playing banjo for what started to be an empty car, but quickly filled up.

Ok, That’s all for now, I just need to figure out how the heck i’m getting from middle-of-nowhere-france to middle-of-nowhere-france-near-italy and then i will write more! Keep commenting and be well!


About Jeremy Carter-Gordon

My blog of a year studying point-and-hilt sword dancing on a Watson Fellowship. Enjoy reading, tell me your thoughts and leave me a comment, or visit my website at
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5 Responses to Argentine Tango, Busking, Crepes, and Dancing

  1. Brendan Taaffe says:


    Sounds like you’re off to a great start. Thanks for keeping us all posted. If, in your travels, you come across anybody who teaches traditional French song (that mazurka was beautiful), all the better if there are harmony parts, I would love to be in touch with them about possible future collaborations on my European camps. Contact info would be great!

    Safe travels,


  2. Jeff Kaufman says:

    For the american dance, the tune is galopede. The dance is a bouree-accented version of galopede.

  3. Jan says:

    Terrific Mazurka singer, did you get his name or the song name? You might film train beggars’ singsong patter & give them something (unless you think they’ll follow you home). I do think I’ve heard such patter in the US. Great to see all the dancing & other free things to do in Paris — and fun to see how music brings you friends (and serendipitous cash)!

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