A Night at the Philharmonie de Paris


Oh what a night!

Never fear, I am not going to break out into song, wearing my trousers too high and tight as I belt out the 1975 classic hit by the Four Seasons with a high pitch, however my evening did involve music, very good music and I am super excited to tell you about it.

As usual, I left everything to the last minute and had to push through the multitude of Saturday night revellers and Christmas shoppers to make it to the metro at breakneck speed telling myself all along, ‘you are not going to make it and, you are going to be so very angry with yourself’.

Not thinking things through, I took the line 11 from Hotel de Ville but the long walk underground to reach the platform takes more time than walking to the next metro stop at Chatelet.

The metro ride was free again due to the pollution and was heaving with people. I dodged in and out of the crowds like one of the three blind mice who was in fear of having its tail chopped off, only to reach the platform and watch the metro leave the station. Although it was only minutes until the next metro, a fresh bunch of Parisians had crammed the platform full like a football stadium and alighting the train meant a lot of pushing and shoving. Time waits for no girl and I had to get on that train and bullied my way through like everyone else. People like to use the phrase;  ‘packed in like sardines’  but if I could buy a tin of sardines that tightly packed, I would be a happy shopper.

After all the running, dodging and pushing I was sweating like a pig but there was no room to peel off layers and I was determined to keep my hands in my coat pocket in fear of pickpockets.

Getting off the train was even more difficult than getting on, pardon, excusez-moi, pardon, wasn’t having much effect and I feared being trapped on the metro and missing my stop.  Finally,  I spurted out and hit the ground running to my connection.

It was frantic, exhausting and very hot and counting down the stations only made me more anxious, rather than speed up the journey as I had hoped.

Finally I arrived at Porte de Pantin in the area of Villette that hugs the periphery of Paris in the 19th arrondissement and together with the crowds stampeded my way through to the Philharmonie de Paris.

The expansive 55.5 hectare space dedicated to science and culture was pumping with people. Children squealing as they rode roller coasters and whizzed around on rides, neon signs ablaze with light and colour but all I could think of was that I had 7 minutes left until they closed the doors and took in a deep breath. I don’t remember breathing the entire way.

A simple security check and I was finally in.

Last year, my canal tour of Saint-Martin ended at Parc de la Villette and it was then that I had discovered and photographed the new building, completed one year before in January 2015 and wished that I had bought a ticket to watch a performance.

This year, tonight,  I not only had a ticket but a ticket in the largest theatre in the venue, the Grande Salle and grand it is. I guessed 1,000 people filled the sold out performance but in fact it seats 2,400 people.

When I booked, earlier in the year, I carefully chose where to sit. If I was going to go, I wanted the best seat in the house.

However when the usher pointed out where my seat was,  I thought I was going to faint and didn’t think I would make it to my specially selected position.  My knees went weak, my stomach did a somersault and my head felt light.

Grateful of a handrail, I clung to it and the cold metal on my sweaty palms calmed me somewhat. I had chosen the first row in the highest balcony on floor number 6, the stairs were so steep they caused a temporary moment of vertigo.

Being late, everyone had to stand up to let me through, the contrast of the heat inside compared to the cold winter air outside had me sweating even more than on the metro. Finally seated and slightly shaky, I went about peeling off layers of clothes and within minutes the performance began in the spectacular concert hall.

The performance was billed as Amadeus Live. It entailed a giant screen showing the 1984, fictionalised biography of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, which was nominated for 50 awards, won 43, 8 of which were Academy Awards.

Thankfully the film was in its original English with French subtitles and a full orchestra and massive choir performed the music under the large screen. I have never witnessed anything like this before and it was simply amazing.

French audiences never cease to amaze me when they show their appreciation. The crowd went wild, first general clapping and then a steady clap clap clap with seven curtain calls. They just don’t give up, it is fabulous but it makes my hands sting!

I still don’t have any food in the apartment and I was starving and it was 11.30pm but I knew if I smiled nicely at Raja the chef at Petit fer a Cheval he wouldn’t let me go home hungry. As luck would have it my friend Bouba was ready to take his dinner break and we dined together on a sweet and tender fillet mignon.

With my tummy satisfied and a nice night under my belt it was time for bed, that was moments before a Parisian editor that I have shared a chat with over the past few years walked in with a big smile and a kiss for each cheek.

We ventured off to another bar where I discovered that he not only is a huge fan of the film and Mozart but also learned violin for many years. Our conversation about the venue Philharmonie de Paris, the performance and his disappointment that he had not purchased a ticket for himself kept us chatting the night away.

Simply magnificent, the performance, the venue and the evening. I just never know what each day will bring me in Paris.

2 Responses to A Night at the Philharmonie de Paris

  • http://Chris

    I remember your photograph of that building from last year and it looks as magnificent on the inside as the outside .. What a wonderful night that would have been. … your trials in getting there cracked me up though …hadehaha

    • http://parisadele

      Hey Chris, nice to see you back here leaving your lovely comments again! Yes, definitely my own fault, I knew I had to leave earlier but yes, a spectacular concert hall. I highly recommend it if you get the chance.

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