The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

French Letter


About twenty minutes from Paris by train, going south-east and up the Seine, there’s a town called Ris-Orangis. Sadly, it doesn’t live up to its evocative name; there are no orange groves or rice plantations - just grey motorways and peeling tower blocks. But when we went there it was not in search of a paddy field but a Paddy-street.

Like looking for Willie McBride's grave in 'The Green Fields Of France', after walking across this dusty town in the scouring sunshine for most of an hour (one cobbled road en route had literally been taken up), eventually discovering that another train station is much closer, we found it.

Welcome to Rue Rory Gallagher.

At first sight, considering the trek it takes to get there, it’s a bit of a let-down. You won’t find a tree-lined boulevard or bluesy back-alley; Rue Rory Gallagher is a drab dead-end road* running through a small industrial zone. It’s not attractively-planned or picturesque – the end of the road leads on to unused ground.

Around the corner is a large secondary school, so in the afternoons straggling teenagers traipse along it as a short cut to the nearby train station of Orangis Bois de l’Epine (the one we should have used). There’s no café or bar where you can sit down, get a drink and contemplate Rory – or even a shop to buy a choc-ice (it was a REALLY hot afternoon).

Basically, it’s no tourist attraction - the Rory Gallagher corners, squares and so forth across Ireland easily beat their French namesake in the picture-postcard stakes.

But why did this Paris satellite town name one of its backroads after an Irishman with no obvious French connection? Well, among the windowless warehouses and small factories on this street there’s a music venue called Le Plan – and it was here that Gallagher played his last French concert, in 1995 – just months before he died in June of that year.

Such was Rory’s popularity in France that immediately after his death local music fans moved to have the road outside the venue named after him. The local council promptly agreed and so, before Ballyshannon or Dublin or Cork got round to it, an unremarkable French town marked his memory and music. Rory’s brother Donal, keeper of the flame, and their mother Monica attended the unveiling of the new street-name in October 1995. An information panel outside Le Plan explains Gallagher’s life and work for any curious passers-by. Unfortunately, the panel tends to get pasted over with flyers for forthcoming shows.

On reflection, maybe the location is fitting – after all, factory-workers and schoolkids seem like exactly the sort of audience (or ‘demographic’, in today’s less-romantic term) that a bluesman would have wanted. There’s a live music venue there too, of course – and a train line** nearby; how blues is that?

And that waste ground at the end of the street has grown into a lush green meadow, natural and untended. This globetrotting and widely-loved musician has as a memorial a corner of a foreign field that is forever Ireland.

* The French don’t say ‘cul-de-sac’ and look at you funny if you do – it just means ‘the arse of a bag’; the French term is 'impasse'. In fact, there's another French dead-end street named after Rory; the Impasse Rory Gallagher in the southern town of Bedoin, near Mont Ventoux (infamous for the death of British cyclist Tom Simpson during the 1967 Tour de France).

** To get from Paris to Rue Rory Gallagher in Ris-Orangis
by train, take the RER D (branch D4) from either Châtelet or Gare de Lyon. Make sure you take a train that stops at Orangis Bois de l’Epine – the station at Ris-Orangis is an hour’s walk away and on a different spur of the same line. From the station at Orangis Bois de l’Epine it’s just a five minute walk along a path through a field, bearing right towards some low warehouse-type buildings. You’ll come to some concrete bollards that mark the end of Rue Rory Gallagher; the street-sign is at the other end.

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What's the summer equivalent of 'hibernating'? 'Estivating'? Anyway, France is slowly reawakening from its traditional August slumber on the beach/beside the pool - everyone's back to school, work, politics and normal life.

Here in Paris the metro is packed again, all the boulangeries are open... and France's music stars are launching their new products. It's la rentrée!

For those who consume their music through the gossip mags (coming soon: the Amy/Pete/Britney love triangle), the most notable French record this season bears a similarity to last year's big rentrée release - an '80s child singing star of glamorous background, returning to high-profile music after concentrating on acting. Last year it was Charlotte Gainsbourg and her fine '5:55' album; this time around it's Vanessa Paradis, whose new album 'Divinidylle' comes out on 3 September.

Nowadays best known for being a Chanel model and Johnny Depp's rather emaciated partner, she will forever be famous in the English-speaking world for 'Joe Le Taxi', her breathy and suggestive 1987 single that established her as a Lolita-esque sex symbol. Nowadays, looking and listening back, it's striking how innocent the song actually is: it's really just about a guy driving a taxi!  That said, the song sounds fantastic - compared to today's cluttered and compressed production values, 'Joe Le Taxi' has the same sparseness as 'Walking On The Moon', married to a breezy summer vibe.

Interestingly, French press coverage of Vanessa's return has been skipping over her 1992 English-language album with her then boyfriend/Svengali Lenny Kravitz. This may be mere forgetfulness due to the album being fairly unspectacular; 'Be My Baby' was a catchy UK hit but the rest of the record was just harmless '60s French-pop pastiche.

'Divine Idylle', the chart-topping title track and first single off her new album, is something similar - well-made but unremarkable jangly guitariness with Mlle Paradis' breathy French vocals. And it doesn't have a chorus, it seems. Still, we'll never discourage any French acts from making glamorous Paris-pop. Vas-y, Vanessa.

Coincidentally, on the same day as the return of la Paradis, Manu Chao (left)follows up his summer single 'Rainin' In Paradiz' with his new album 'La Radiolina'. You can hear extracts from it on Chao's website. By the high standards of his ethno-pop back catalogue, 'Rainin' In Paradiz' was a stale lump of terrace-rock, so hopefully it's not typical of the album.

France's biggest international star is touring Europe in October; there's a string of dates up and down Britain but no Irish concert as yet. Surely some savvy Irish promoter will realise that the huge numbers of French, Spanish, Italians and South Americans in Ireland (oh, and plenty Irish too) will fill multiple nights of Chao at any Irish venue.

Many French indie fans are waiting impatiently for the new release by Deportivo (right), a three-piece from the Paris region. Their second album, 'La Brise' (produced by Strokes collaborator Gordon Raphael) comes out on October 24.

However, we reckon the French indie-pop album of the autumn will be 'The Fortune Teller Said', the second long-player by Grenoble band Rhesus. At first we were less than enthusiastic about first single 'Hey Darling' but recently it's been growing on us.

But, judging by magazine covers and airplay, la rentrée 2007 belongs to Vanessa Paradis, so here's the video for 'Divine Idylle':

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It’s strange for us non-natives to find that the Communist party in France is not only active but thriving, with several French towns run by Communist mayors – including Gennevilliers, the Paris satellite town next to ours where the BBC usually go when they want to depict France’s immigrant community and urban tension. We have an image of Communism inextricably linked to totalitarian repression and walls tumbling in 1989 – or else with improbably-romanticised iconography; Dubliners who eat at Mao and drink at Pravda would be outraged at the thought of a restaurant called Adolf or a club called Mein Kampf.
But in France the Nazi occupation is still (just about) within living memory; many streets around where your blogger lives are called after fallen Resistance fighters with names like Gabriel Péri, Guy Môquet and Pierre Brossolette, and the Communists stood up and fought against the occupying forces, at least in the public perception.
And the original communes were in Revolution-era Paris (manned and womanned by the communards who inspired both Karl Marx and Jimmy Sommerville) and the word still denotes an area of urban government in France. That’s part of the heritage of today’s French Communists, and the far-left bloc still reaps 5-10% of the national vote – more than the French Greens but less than the far-right.
Anyway, the French Communist party and extreme-left community have a daily newspaper called L’Humanité, and each September the paper organises a large outdoor music and arts festival in the Paris area. Fête de l’Humanité is traditionally the last big bash of the Paris summer season.
This year’s Fête de l’Huma, as it’s commonly called, takes place over the weekend of 14-16 September at La Corneuve (just north of Paris, between the Stade de France and Charles de Gaulle Airport), and features a mix of French and international stars. Top of the visiting delegation must be Iggy and the Stooges on the Saturday, with Razorlight going on just before them that evening, while Friday features Aussie rockers the John Butler Trio and South African folk singer Johnny Clegg. Of those, only Clegg strikes us as being any way political in even the loosest sense of the word (although that noted trans-Atlantic commentator Johnny Borrell says there’s trouble and panic in America; hope our US friends are okay).
Of the home-grown heroes, the stand-out names on the Friday are Clarika and Olivia Ruiz, two female singers who infuse the skiffly sounds of chanson française with a more robust pop swagger. Ruiz, a former TV talent show finalist with a childlike squeaky singing style, is now a big star in France thanks to the success of her most recent album, ‘La Femme Chocolat’. Local indie heroes Luke are on Saturday’s main-stage bill, while Sunday’s headliner is ageing protest-rocker Renaud.
There will be other cultural happenings at the festival – including a rugby event to coincide with the World Cup, taking over France in September.
As the festival is organised by socialists and intended to be within the means of the modestly-paid proletariat (unlike the Rugby World Cup, sadly for us), weekend tickets cost only €15 and are available online from FNAC. On-site camping costs €7. Caution - due to the World Cup, cheap flights may be hard to come by.
More info (in English or French) is available on the festival’s website. Here’s headliner Olivia Ruiz in the video for her charming single ‘La Femme Chocolat’:

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This weekend’s Festival of World Cultures in Dún Laoghaire (24-26 August) doesn’t feature any music we’d normally consider as being French – no bal de musette or Piaf-style torch songs or even Parisian DJs stepping two-by-two off the nearby ferry.

However, Algerian-born traditional singer Rachid Taha has spent much of his life in the former colonial centre, is enormously popular there – and he was present at one of France’s seminal musical events (of which more later). In many ways Taha represents an important aspect of French culture today.

Traditional Maghreb music from north Africa, the wailing vocals and swirling rhythms that soundtrack holiday programme reports from Tangiers and Tunis, is known as rai – but Taha, always scornful of genres, wittily deflects such talk by referring to himself as Rai Cooder or Rai Orbison.

Like Tinariwen and Toumast, the Tuareg bands of the Mali Sahara, Taha has electrified the old style with modern punk and electro sounds – and very contemporary lyrical concerns. His songs, sung in Arabic, deal with questions of identity; his excellent 2004 album was called ‘Tékitoi’ (phonetically, Tay Kee Twa), a txt-msg style compression of “T’es qui, toi?” meaning “Who are you?”

Four decades after Algerian independence from France, national identity remains a live issue here. Racial discrimination – casual or official – is still rife: non-whites in Paris live in constant expectation of identity checks and police harassment that whites like your blogger never experience (in almost three years I’ve never been ID-checked). Taha’s first band was called Carte De Séjour, named after the French residency permit. His 1986 punked-up cover version of old crooner Charles Trenet’s ‘Douce France’ was banned from French radio just because of its aggressive attitude and implicit attack on bourgeois France.

(The recent film Indigènes, released in Ireland as ‘Days Of Glory’, exposed the injustices faced by North-African-born French soldiers in World War II; as a direct result of the film’s agitation the unequal pension paid to those surviving Maghreb veterans was brought up to the same level as for French-born soldiers. France’s huge ethnic-origin population faces such petty racism every day, and one hopes that Rachida Dati, France’s justice minister, can make real progress – she’s the daughter of Moroccan-Algerian parents.)

Rachid TahaWhatever about political radicalism, Taha is associated with one of the revolutionary moments of French music – the 1981 five-night residency by The Clash at the Theatre Mogador in Paris. It’s not an exaggeration to say that this series of concerts determined the course of French rock for the following fifteen years. Taha was in the audience, as was young Manu Chao and his future band Mano Negra, members of Les Negresses Vertes (another fine ‘80s band) and other future French rock stars – all were inspired to form bands, mix punk with traditional music… and wear leather trousers. This was the template of nearly all French bands until Daft Punk’s dancefloor revolution in the mid-‘90s.

Some accounts credit Taha with a more central role. After one show he met Joe Strummer and Mick Jones backstage and gave them a copy of his recordings. The following year, The Clash released ‘Rock The Casbah’ – directly influenced, claim the French music community proudly, by Taha that night (There’s no evidence, though, that Taha inspired Strummer’s epic Paris disappearing act the following year).

This blast of French pride would seem to be borne out by subsequent events. Taha recorded his own Arabic version of the Clash hit, retitled ‘Rock El Kasbah’, for the ‘Tékitoi’ album – and Jones and Paul Simenon have joined him onstage to perform the song, most recently at Taha’s April 2007 London concert.


Check out Taha’s music at his Myspace page and make sure you catch him FOR FREE at Newtownsmith Green in Dún Laoghaire next Sunday (26 August) – his live show is thrilling, the trousers are still leather and even his cover of ‘Rock The Casbah’ stands up favourably to the original. Here he is performing it with Jones on French TV show ‘Taratata’:

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During his triumphant Paris show last May, Duke Special invited onstage a French singer for a version en français of ‘Portrait’. It was a particularly appropriate pairing because Emily Loizeau, the singer in question, shares much of the Duke’s piano-led cabaret-pop style. (Regina Spektor is another obvious contemporary of hers.)
Emily LoizeauNow the two are together again in Belfast – Emily Loizeau is supporting the Duke at his concert tonight (Sunday 19 August) at the Empire. If you’re going to the show, lucky you.
Loizeau emerged in late 2005/early 2006 with ‘L’Autre Bout Du Monde’, a remarkable debut album of catchy cabaret-pop that swung between playfully dark humour and heart-stopping emotional candour. The carefree child-song of ‘Voila Pourquoi’ and the vindictive wit of ‘Je Suis Jalouse’ seem hardly to be from the same person who sings the title track and ‘I’m Alive’ (where the singer mourns her father), two of the loneliest and most heartbroken songs you’ll ever hear.
The late Monsieur Loizeau was French but his wife was English, and the threefold legacy of this is: a daughter called Emily; the Anglicised spelling of her first name (as opposed to the French ‘Emilie’); and her ability to write songs in English as well as in French. On her debut record she sings another duet, ‘London Town’, with her label-mate, the equally idiosyncratic Andrew Bird. By a happy coincidence, the name Loizeau comes from the French l’oiseau, meaning ‘the bird’.
At the time of writing there seem to be no plans for an Irish release for any of Loizeau’s material. You can get around this by listening to some tracks from that fantastic first album on her MySpace page and her website. No news yet of a second album, but in the meantime you can watch Emily Loizeau sing ‘Je Suis Jalouse’:

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A classic French breakfastHow did your blogger spend his morning? Well, first we picked up today’s edition of Le Monde (‘All Quiet, Nothing Happening, Call Back In September’, says the front page headline), then bought some galettes in the local French market and eventually passed the morning with both newspaper and sweetbread in our favourite little café. Yes, you’ve guessed it – we’re still on holiday in Tralee.
A recent TV report on the French community in Dublin estimated that there are at least 20,000 French people living and working full-time in Ireland – and if you factor in Erasmus students, tourists and frequent business visitors then that bumps up the total considerably. No surprise, then, that there’s more and more Frenchness on view in the country – especially restaurants and delis, given France’s reputation for excellent food.
Coq of the walk - one of France's national emblemsA homesick French exile freshly-landed in Dublin, for example, can start today (Friday 17 August) by buying real pains au chocolat and croissants (not the awful Cuisine de France stuff in your local breakfast-roll shack) in the French bakery next to Grogan’s pub behind the George’s Street arcade – and then eating them in Café en Seine on Dawson Street.
Our ex-pat Pierre/Georgette can then pick up Le Monde, Marianne and France Football at the kiosk across from the GPO and read them over lunch at the Alliance Française café on Kildare Street. There’s usually an afternoon screening of some French film at the IFI or the Screen. Spoilt for choice when looking for a French restaurant in which to be fed and watered, he/she can then dance away the mal de pays tonight at French Friday on Thomas Street with a full house of compatriots. And TV5 is on digital.
There’s no less Frenchness in Ireland’s provincial centres. In Tralee, to take the example closest to hand, there’s a French deli and wine shop called French Flair – and the French market we mentioned above is the one that travels around Ireland every summer. It’s in the Kerry capital this weekend for the Rose Of Tralee Festival*, which opens tonight.
A rose(On which point, it’s disappointing that there’s no live music on the streets of Tralee for this year’s festival. Last year, bands like Republic of Loose, Delorentos, Dry County and loads others came to Kerry and played free outdoor concerts over the festival weekend. This year, all the live music responsibility rests with Richie Kavanagh. The organising committee plead lack of resources, as well as increased competition from festivals in nearly every Irish town – for instance, the recent music events in Mitchelstown, Portlaoise and Birr.)
French stamp featuring Marianne, another French symbolOf course, most French people living in Ireland are well integrated here and aren’t trying to cocoon themselves in their own Paris-sur-Liffey. Similarly, your blogger isn’t really involved with the Irish community in Paris (approximately 10,000 ex-pat Pats in the greater Paris region) – nearly all my friends are French and I only venture into Irish pubs to watch football, GAA and rugby on TV.
Returning to Ireland this summer, it’s good to see the growing number of ethnic shops, French and others, in every town – not least because it gives Irish people a chance to experience new tastes and aromas and colours and sounds. (This weekend’s Eurocultured festival in Smithfield is another opportunity for discovery.)
Of course, not all Irish people are so enthusiastic about these new arrivals. But then, not all Irish people have lived away from home, like some of us have. Lend them some sugar – they are your neighbours.
*There’s a French Rose. Madeleine Barry is a 23-year-old law student who was raised in Paris (i.e. French-bred). According to her official bio, “she enjoys good conversation with friends around the dinner table and would love to meet Mary Robinson.” No mention of whether she enjoys Premiership football or second-hand-bookstores or watching obscure indie-kid bands at the Fleche d’Or, or whether she’d love to meet a marathon-running Kerryman. However, if we read on, she’s “a fan of Edith Piaf, Charles Aznavour, Serge Gainsbourg, Sinead O’Connor, U2 and the White Stripes”. Ah! – that final hurdle may be insurmountable.

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So all of France is on holiday (and we’re not exaggerating: there really are loads of French shops and businesses that close for three weeks every August) and Parisians have deserted the city. Families are in holiday camps, the bobos are backpacking round Asia and South America… and the privileged (both old-money and nouveau riche) are in the south of France. More accurately, they’re just off it, on their Nightclubbing on the Cote d'Azuryachts.
But even the rich need to dance. And they’re dancing to the same floor-fillers that you lurch and stagger along to at your local peasant disco or French-themed club night. Except that on the French Riviera the superstar DJs themselves are there to spin their own chart hits. In July and August the Cote d’Azur becomes the most star-studded and exclusive disco strip in the world.
The summer season of the Palais Club Discotheque in Cannes, for example, is hosting every well-known mixmeister and larging-it-upper you can think of – including international stars like David Morales, Benny Benassi, Erick Morillo, Eric Prydz and Pete Tong. We were intrigued to see Fedde Le Grand on the bill; after the Palais Club in Cannes in July he played last Thursday night (10 August) at a club called Fabric in that other exotic dancefloor capital, Tralee Co. Kerry.
Laurent GarnierHowever, the Palais Club’s programme illustrates France’s current supremacy in the superstar-DJ arena. There’s Laurent Garnier, arguably the originator of the current Parisian dancefloor scene. In our local library in France there’s a book by Garnier on how he got involved in DJ-ing, recounting his youthful ‘80s experiences in the Hacienda in Manchester, where his American house sets were a vital early influence on both the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays. Your indie-kid blogger knows that he needs to broaden his musical experiences a good deal (and Bob Sinclarstart reading more books in French), so it’s on our to-read list for la rentrée.
Another Frenchman on the club’s line-up is Bob Sinclar (note the spelling: not ‘Sinclair’ with an ‘i’), pseudonym of a Paris DJ called Chris The French Kiss, which we suspect may not be his real name either*. Bob has been enjoying great chart and airplay success over the last couple of years with some of the most irritating singles ever released, usually accompanied by videos starring smug stage-school brats gurning and back-flipping like circus chipmunks. David GuettaHis 2006 hit ‘Love Generation’ is particularly inescapable in France because it’s the theme music (la generique, as they say in French) of TV talent show ‘Star Academy’.
David Guetta (left) is also representing the home team – seemingly forever trading as ‘F*** Me I’m Famous’. And another superstar floorfiller who we hadn’t realised was French is Martin Solveig (below). His Scandinavian-sounding surname is actually just his nom de disco - his real name is Martin Picandet and he’s fromMartin Solveig Paris. You’ve probably seen Solveig’s irritating videos, where he smirks self-contentedly while starring in the same ‘I’m not the star and this is a witty video parody’ format repeatedly.
If you hate their music, then their politics are not going to make you change your mind about them - Guetta and Solveig are supporters of conservative French president Nicolas Sarkozy. During the Putin-drinking-buddy/Bush-friend/Ghadafi-supplier’s recent election campaign both DJs performed at fundraising shindigs for Sarko’s UMP party. Given their support for the champion of France’s right-voting elite class, it’s little wonder that Guetta and Solveig are spending their summer as Punch-and-Judy-show for the Riviera jet-set.
*It’s Christophe Le Friant

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Eurocultured is a free festival taking place this Saturday (18 August) in Smithfield in Dublin. Now in its second year, it's part of a series of events that also visits Manchester and Berlin. The music acts range from indie to electronica to hip hop to world sounds, and there'll also be food stalls, performing arts workshops and (most importantly) face-painting!

The festival brings together acts from Ireland and across the continent. Among the acts on the main stage outdoors you can cheer for local heroes Fight Like Apes and Hybrasil, enjoy the Portuguese fado of Raquel Tavares and flee in terror from Lithuania's Metal On Metal.

Meanwhile (of relevance to this blog's remit), Thomas Read's in Smithfield will become a departement outre-mer for the day, as it is hosting the festival's French contingent. Lauren Guillery and the Claws are on the bill (she's also in Crawdaddy this Thursday), hopefully featuring that elusive new member she's been looking for. The French Friday team feature too - if they'll have recovered from their monthly Thomas House appearance the night before. And Yann Dovi will also be Dj-ing there, as he does every Sunday evening with his Sunday Groove of soul and reggae.

More info is available from the festival's MySpace page.

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Two robots who may or may not be messieurs Bangalter and de Homem-Christo of Daft PunkIf you managed to catch Daft Punk’s show at Oxegen in July then you’ll have seen the trailer for their new movie. ‘Daft Punk’s Electroma’ is currently showing at the IFI in Temple Bar in Dublin.
It’s not a film for everyone – ‘Electroma’ is closer in execution and spirit to an art installation than a traditional cinema release. There’s no dialogue, yet it tells the story of two robots who try to become human but are banished to the desert by their robot community. ‘Transformers’ it ain’t.
(Incidentally, Daft Punk conspiracy theorists will be interested to learn that the two robots are not played by Thomas Bangalter and Guy Manuel de Homem-Christo themselves)
As you can imagine for a film without dialogue or human faces, the film depends greatly on the visual power of its photography and sequences. In this it succeeds – ‘Electroma’ is gorgeous to look at.
A rare helmetless photo of two men who definitely are messieurs Bangalter and de Homem-Christo of Daft PunkThe soundtrack also plays an essential part in shaping this faceless, speechless story. Daft Punk fans may be disappointed to learn that the film doesn’t feature any music old or new from the helmet-wearing pair. Instead, the choice of tracks ranges from classical pieces by Chopin and Haydn to more modern sounds from Brian Eno, Curtis Mayfield and Todd Rundgren – all scrupulously selected to serve the narrative.
There’s no news at present of any new music from Daft Punk. Their last album, 2005’s ‘Human After All’, was received with relatively muted critical reaction and disappointing sales (it scraped into the French top ten). 2007 is the tenth anniversary of the release of their revolutionary debut album, ‘Homework’, a record whose punk attitude and rock/electro soundclashes continue to exercise a huge influence on acts like Justice and LCD Soundsystem.

You can watch some scenes from ‘Daft Punk’s Electroma’ on YouTube – the Burning Man sequence, the film’s climax, is especially powerful. As for the duo’s music, here’s Michel Gondry’s video for ‘Around The World’:

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France usually shuts down for the month of August. The local boulangerie closes for three weeks and you've to search for a bakery that's still open. Families clog up motorways as they head for massive campsites and holiday villages, and the president goes nuclear-reactor-selling in Libya and paparazzi-hunting in the USA. Even the usually-invincible Lyon still seem to be en vacances, losing to a late late Toulouse goal in the second weekend of the Ligue 1 season.

Luckily for Dublin's Francophiles, there's no summer holiday for French Friday. The Gallic-flavoured club night keeps its regular third-Friday-of-the-month appointment at Thomas House on Thomas Street in Dublin this Friday night, 17 August.

If you've never been, you can expect to hear the creme de la creme of French music (as featured on this blog) and party hard with Dublin's huge French community. As usual, entry costs zero euro and rien de centimes.

To get you in the mood, here's the single remix of 'Cassius 99' by Cassius:

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Nuggets from our archive

2004 - The CLUAS Reviews of Erin McKeown's album 'Grand'. There was the positive review of the album (by Cormac Looney) and the entertainingly negative review (by Jules Jackson). These two reviews being the finest manifestations of what became affectionately known, around these parts at least, as the 'McKeown wars'.