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August 4, 2011

Sounds in the Jardin du Luxembourg

by soundlandscapes

I CATCH THE 82 bus from the bottom of my little street and it takes me right to the gates of the Jardin du Luxembourg in the 6th arrondissement.

Home to the Palais du Luxembourg and the French Senate, the Jardin du Luxembourg is the second largest public park in Paris.  The garden and the palace were created at the behest of Marie de Medici, the widow of Henry IV, in the early seventeenth-century.  It’s always been renowned for its statues.

Music can be found in most public spaces in Paris especially in the summer.  But musicians are not allowed to play in the Jardin du Luxembourg save for the concerts in the gazebo. However, they are allowed to play outside the Jardin and this man, with his delightful street organ, does so regularly.

The Street Organ:

Recording sound in the Jardin du Luxembourg is fraught with difficulties.  The Jardin is popular all year round but in the summer there is a constant cacophony of crowd sounds, which makes recording quite specific sounds a challenge to say the least.

But, as always, with determination and a huge amount of patience it is possible to isolate some of the distinctive sounds – the joggers, the tennis players, the Pétanque players and the children’s playground.

Sounds in the Jardin du Luxembourg:

Incidentally, a game of Pétanque with its mystifying rules is, along with fireworks, one of the most difficult things to record. Those metal balls clinking into each other play havoc with a sound recorder and one is never quite sure what the outcome is going to be.

Apart from the Bois de Boulogne, which is a ten-minute walk from my home, the Jardin du Luxembourg is the Paris park that I visit most often.  I’ve been there in the summer when the temperature has been 40° and I’ve been there in the winter when it’s been covered in snow and the temperature has been below freezing.  But whenever I go, the Jardin du Luxemburg always seems to have a special charm.  I recommend it.

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