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November 5, 2010


Parisian Birdsong

by soundlandscapes

Paris is a city – and a city with more than its fair share of noise pollution. Often referred to as the City of Light, Paris could also be known by the less glamorous soubriquet, the City of Noise. And the greatest part of the noise comes from the ever-present traffic which never sleeps and which provides a continuous backdrop to all other Parisian sounds.

I like a challenge and at the beginning of this year I set myself the challenge of recording birdsong in Paris without, so far as is possible, wretched traffic noise in the background. This is the result.

Montmartre, in the 18th arrondissement,  sits on the Butte Montmartre, one of the highest points in Paris and at its peak rests the Basilica Sacré-Coeur.

Adjacent to Sacré-Coeur is the Place du Tertre with its artists colony much visited by tourists throughout the year.

On the other side of Sacré-Coeur is to be found the much older church of Saint Pierre de Montmartre. It was in the garden of this church on a summer Saturday afternoon that I was able to record these birds.

The Place des Vosges is in the 4th Arrondissement close to Bastille. Formerly known as Place Royale, it was for some time home to the Kings of France.

In one corner of the Place des Vosges, through an unassuming door is to be found the Hotel de Sully and the Centre for National Monuments.

Along one side of the courtyard of the Hotel de Sully is a wall covered in foliage in which nestle hundreds of birds unseen but certainly not unheard.

It was here, at the height of the summer, that I made another recording of Parisian birdsong.

I live in the west of Paris close to the Bois de Boulogne. I have tried many times to record birdsong in the Bois de Boulogne but have always been defeated by the background traffic noise. Big as the Bois is, nowhere within it seems to be completely  free from the constant noise pollution.

In the Spring of this year I got up bright and early one morning and I was able to capture this sound much closer to home – on the balcony of my apartment.

As I said at the beginning, I like a challenge – and recording these sounds certainly was a challenge, but a very enjoyable one.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nov 8 2010

    Nice blackbird in the first recording and a great house sparrow roost in the second. Paris has lots of sparrows, indeed they’re so tame the tourists feed them from their hands in front of Notre Dame. And balckbird, great tit and maybe a blackcap in the last one, but I can’t place the high-pitched rasping bird, thought I’ve heard it elsewhere in mainland Europe. You are lucky in having so much green space in the city.

    • Nov 8 2010

      Thanks for your comment.
      I don’t pretend to be an expert on birds but just to get a decent recording without traffic noise was a delight.

  2. Nov 9 2010

    Excellent idea for a blog. I’ll come back often.
    As someone who looks for the ‘invisible’, sound is very important to me too.

    To record birdsong, you could perhaps have tried the Maison de l’oiseau near the Arènes de Lutèce. I’m sure they would have been very interested in your project anyway!

    • Nov 9 2010

      Thank you for your comment Adam.

      I’ve just had a look at your site. Absolutely fascinating. Can I put a link to it on this blog?

      • Nov 9 2010

        With pleasure. I’ll be adding a link to yours!

        I can’t find an e-mail address for you here, but I’d be very interested in collaborating with you sometime. (I can be contacted at adam (at) invisibleparis (dot) net).

  3. jdou
    May 19 2017

    Thank you for these recordings! What kind of blackbird is singing in the first, spring selection? I am currently living up high in a quiet apartment near les Halles and the same melodious voice has been waking me up and making my mornings sweet. Makes me think of a woodthrush I heard in northern Michigan.


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