Category Archives: Paris for Free

A free concert at the Hotel de Soubise

18 January 2013

If you love classical music, you want to listen to top quality concerts in opulent surroundings but don’t want to spend a single penny, then you can have this in a breeze in Paris!  That’s what I just experienced the other day – and regularly experiencing,  in fact – thanks to the Association of Jeunes Talents which organizes free (as well as chargeable) concerts around prestigious places in the capital.

I am an avid fan of the association and have been  following  their  concerts at Petit Palais   but it was just recently that I learned about their other venue – the Hotel de Soubise in Archives Nationales in the heart of the Marais.  Naturally, as one who is deeply passionate in seeing the interiors of French  architectural masterpieces, this is a chance I should not miss.



The concert was held at the  Chambre du Prince (Prince Salon) where elegance and refinery are a great feast to the senses!

You get in there hoping to lift your spirits with beautiful music but you get more than what you expected! The beautiful decorations around you are more than enough to feed your whole being, pressing you to cry,”Thank heavens, I live in Paris!”

The performer that day is a very talented lady, Hélène Diot, only aged 25, and is already a winner of numerous international competitions!  She played the harpsicord with fingers so light  they are almost floating above the keys!

Incidentally, when watching a concert, particularly if the instrument being used is a piano – or a harpsicord in this case – you are better off sitting on the side where you can  see the musician’s fingers hitting the keyboard as that is how you will get to appreciate the performance better.



The harpsichord was probably invented in the late Middle Ages.  Like a piano, it is played by means of a keyboard but the sound is produced by plucked strings that are activated when you press the keys.  It was widely used in Renaissance and Baroque music and is now making a revival.

It  looks like a piano but its oddly long shape differentiates it from a piano.

This luxurious chandelier had me counting the candle-like lights while listening to the music.  How many – there are actually 12 in total!


The Hotel de Soubise is a 14th century manor house which changed ownership several times until it was acquired by the State and made it the official headquarters of the Archives Nationales.  Some rooms like this Salon du Prince are used for expositions and concerts.

Such splendour and beauty!


Marble fireplaces, gilded mirrors, ornately designed panels, the murals on the walls…all these built and decorated by Boffrand from 1735.

A photoshoot at Pere Lachaise

Towards the end of K and A’s (initials of my son and his wife, for easier writing) stay in Paris, I made sure that they visit a must-see site that has now become a tourist attraction,  the most famous cemetery in the world, the Pere Lachaise.

Entrance is free, you just  have to ask for a map at the Reception where tombs of important persons are highlighted.  It opened in 1804 and now forms part of the Historic Monuments of France.

K and A were adamant at first, why visit a cemetery? but when they started seeing tourists and tour groups roaming around, they became more comfortable.  It was then that I gave them an assignment:  “Here’s your chance to practice on photography!  Shoot something MYSTERIOUS! ”

And so, here are the pics that I have chosen out of hundreds shots that we all took together:



















The Thursday Concert

I always look forward to Thursdays in Paris! It’s the day of the week when my mind transcends to the highest level while listening to the instrumental genius of those young talented musicians from all over Europe. A Thursday concert is always different from the other: classical, folkloric or contemporary music on piano, accordion, violoncello , violin, saxophone, drums (oh i just love that drummer of classical music, his sticks  seems to be floating on air!)

Today, I had that fine moment  again, with my highschool classmate and her husband in tow.  They are visiting Paris at the moment and I wanted to give them a taste of a typical Parisian concert.


These musicians’ faces cringe with passion everytime they hit an emotional note


The concert hall at the Petit Palais
The show starts at 12:30pm, you have to queue up as early as 11:30am as it is very well attended and seats are limited.