As we know by reputation, the French love their culture – of all sorts! Circus (think Cirque du Soleil, French-Canadian), acrobatics, mime, dance, music concerts and festivals all over the place of all different genres! It’s fabulous being surrounded by this sort of cultural attitude, and the knowledge that culture here is for everyone, not just those who can afford it! It’s imbued in the French way of life and being, like patisseries, wine, armagnac (in this part of the country), and communal eating!

One of the things that we found remarkable when we first moved here 7 years ago was the very high standard of artists appearing in our local town of Nérac. In the UK we would have had to have travelled to a major city to see such performers, but here they come to much smaller places, to sell-out audiences of all ages and society.

In a neighbouring village, or small town, called Mézin, twice a year – February and July – a music performance school from Paris under the tutelage of Christophe Boulier comes for a week to give their young soloists a chance to play in front of a supportive audience. It is called the Académie de Jeunes Soloistes. Many of the music students are from Taiwan, China, and other Eastern countries and this is an opportunity to put into practice all the skills of performing that they are learning whilst they are studying and absorbing the culture of France. The players are hosted by families in the area and take it in turns to take part in the various concert programmes throughout the week. Here’s a link to see what they are playing this coming week. These concerts are free, but the audience pays to have information on that night’s pieces, along with the biographies and photos of the performers.

The February week is held in the delightful Italianate theatre, Théâtre Coté Cour. This is a total surprise the first time you go inside. I guess it must seat around 150 – 200 people – cushions are provided, thankfully – and it is a gem of a place to perform. The summer week is in the local church of Saint Jean-Baptiste (take your own cushions for this one!) which is a listed French Historic Monument on one of the pilgrim routes to Saint-Jacques de Compostella. This is a fascinating part of the country and you’ll find more information of the area on this page.

So, for this coming week, local people are going to be able to get their fill of Bach, Rachmaninov, Bruch, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Prokofiev, Scriabin and others, and encourage and support up-and-coming professional musicians of the future! What could be better for heart, mind and soul?!!