A Travellerspoint blog

A Final Farewell

Wednesday 12 - Thursday 13 December

overcast -1 °C

We have a couple of free days in Paris at the end of the tour before boarding the plane back to Australia. It is nice to have this additional time to decompress from the routine of sound checking and gigging and more importantly to say our goodbyes in a more relaxed atmosphere. A futile attempt to see the Edward Hopper exhibition at the Grand Palais (queues of an hour or more outside) results in us walking around the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and back along the Seine to Hotel Collège de France before a final dinner with Manu, his wife Natalie and children Juliette and Elliot in Rue Lhomond.

What to say about this most charming and lovely family? Only that they exemplify the warmth and hospitality we have been lucky enough to experience throughout our journey in France. The Apartments tour would not have been possible without the tireless and dedicated persistence of Manu who organized and tour managed everything, played and sung in 49 Swimming Pools AND has a full time job as a journalist. Respect and love to you, Manu.

Finally, a sincere thank you and kisses on both cheeks to all our touring party who have made this trip so enjoyable:

Robin - sound
Loup - lights
Etienne - guitar, 49 Swimming Pools
Fabien - keyboards, The Apartments, drums, 49 Swimming Pools
Samuel - bass, The Apartments & 49 Swimming Pools
Peter - le chanteur, The Apartments
Wayne - guitar, The Apartments
Nick - drums, The Apartments
Gael - trumpet, The Apartments
Natasha - vocals, The Apartments
Antoine - acoustic guitar, The Apartments
Pascal & Stephan - artwork, the best band poster I have ever seen.
Agathe (AtmoLive) - tour booking

Love and gratitude,

Amanda xx

Posted by Amanda Brown 13:33 Archived in France Comments (1)

Game of Thrones Day

Monday 10 - Tuesday 11 December

overcast -1 °C

It is the morning after the last show and everyone is going their own separate ways and returning to their own separate lives. There has been a genuine camaraderie established between us all and although it is always unsettling to finish a tour I make my farewells with a true sense of sadness. It has been a real joy being on the road with everyone here.

Manu invites us remaining Apartments to stop off for a night at his country house in Burgundy on the way back to Paris. It is only a couple of hours drive to the tiny town of Treigny and we arrive in the late afternoon at his place on the edge of the village. The 18th century house looks out over a stream and the landscape is very green; moss covers the garden walls and roof tiles and there is an ornate upright piano in the main room that used to belong to Sarah Bernhardt.

The next day we experience the ultimate guided tour as Manu shows us the local sights. His friend's family happens to own a medieval castle nearby where pottery is still manufactured in timeless tradition. There is a tower specially constructed to accommodate hundreds of pigeons - the Twitter of the day, somebody jokes. We visit the basilica at Vézelay, an incredible church and monastery that houses the relics of Mary Magdelene and lunch at the old monastery guesthouse where we have vegetable soup with monks head cheese and homemade bread by a blackened hearth. Finally we stop at an organic vineyard to buy some wine, where the vigneron was "just out the back building a wall". All in all a very medieval day - it felt like we were in Game of Thrones...

Posted by Amanda Brown 06:48 Archived in France Comments (1)

The Last Show

Sunday 9 December

semi-overcast 3 °C

We don't have to travel today and we spend a leisurely morning having breakfast at the hotel and talking on Skype. There is time to explore the old town of Clermont-Ferrand so Peter and I catch a bus into Jaune (old town) and walk around the Noel market buying knives (a local speciality) and pain d'epice (gingerbread). There is a big rugby match on and the town centre is crowded with Irish fans and local supporters in blue and yellow regalia. Later in the afternoon Manu will be as excited as a school boy when a passing music fan gives him a free ticket to the match.

The last show is another good one, the band rocks so much there is even someone playing air guitar down the front. We do a three song encore and sign a lot of posters afterwards. Gael jumps up on the bar and starts playing trumpet and the bar staff don't bat an eyelid. After packing up we reconvene back at the hotel for a final celebratory drink. Some of that beautiful wine that people bought in Saint-Émilion for gifts is unfortunately not going to last until Christmas...

Posted by Amanda Brown 14:13 Archived in France Comments (0)


Saturday 8 December

semi-overcast 3 °C

A travel day/day off on the road from Bordeuax to Clermont-Ferrand. Our show in Bordeaux went well. Again the band played like well oiled machine, everyone now feeling comfortable enough with the songs to improvise more freely. Nick is adding some virtuosic fills to the already epic outros of What's Left of Your Nerve and Goodbye Train. 21 is settling into a Bolero-esque arrangement that lifts the ending to new heights.

In the time honored tradition of rock and roll touring we are staying in the ugly outer suburbs of Bordeaux because the hotel is near the venue and we don't have time to see the picturesque old town Bordeaux. As compensation Manu recommends we stop in Saint-Émilion as it is on the way to our next show.

Saint-Émilion is a small wine producing town dating back to prehistoric times, with some Roman architecture and an old castle with a moat. We walk around town taking pictures, visiting the cathedral and stopping to taste and buy wine from an Englishman who speaks flawless French. There is wine here from as far back as 1945 and some bottles cost thousands of euros. We stock up on the more affordable varieties and settle into a local restaurant for a three course lunch.

After a few hours driving we arrive in Clermont-Ferrand to load the instruments into the venue as it is too cold to leave them in the van overnight. This is close to mountain country - there is snow by the roadside and covering the mountaintops. At one point it is MINUS FIVE DEGREES outside.

The second rock and roll moment of the day occurs when we find out the restaurant we are supposed to have dinner at is closed and we end up back at Cooperative de Mai having hot dogs and beer for dinner and watching Arthur H perform - he is the son of French singer Jacques Higelin and looks like a cross between Serge Gainsbourg and Ron Peno. The ironic contrast with lunch earlier in the day at Saint-Émilion is not lost on us.

Posted by Amanda Brown 12:31 Archived in France Comments (0)

A Sweet Soirée

Thursday 6 December

sunny 10 °C

The show in Nantes was our best one so far. Excellent sound and a good audience of over three hundred which made the venue full but not crowded. Everyone seems to be hitting their musical stride. We are playing together like a seasoned unit and Gael is performing more ornate solos on the trumpet every night. And speaking of le trompette...

We had our first proper day off so far in La Rochelle, the hometown of Étienne and Carole. We checked into our hotel and Nick, Peter, Wayne and I went to lunch at a portside restaurant. Oysters, plat du jour (raie/skate) with legumes and Sancerre. We walked around the port and town imagining how lovely it would be in summer time. A good place to come back to.

In the evening there was a small acoustic show in the art gallery where Étienne has a studio. Antoine and Natasha from Grisbi played some new songs and a beautiful version of Chelsea Girls. 49 Swimming Pools played covers of The Killing Moon and The Devil's Eye followed by an exuberant bracket of their songs with the final song featuring trumpet. The way I feel about the flute Étienne feels about the trumpet (extreme aversion). Ater entering with a trumpet fanfare Gael presented him with a toy....trompette!

Posted by Amanda Brown 06:32 Archived in France Comments (1)

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