Great food, great wine, great weather, great audiences – what can I say, what a great week we had in France!!
The gig in Luxembourg got postponed at the last minute (timing wasn’t right or something) but that wasn’t a problem as it was the first gig on the tour. That left us playing Metz (one night) & Strasbourg (2 nights) and everything was just super.
We arrived in Metz in good time and checked into our hotel – which just happened to be right across from the cathedral and not only that but our room was looking directly out onto it. Beautiful.
The club was only 100 yards or so from the hotel so that made everything really, really easy. We were met at the Irish Pub by Chris and his staff and they immediately made us feel right at home. It’s a great Irish Bar and has a very authentic feel about it. I could tell already that it was going to be a good gig. I often have that – a feeling or a sort of premonition about how the night is going to be – and more often than not I’m right.
The soundcheck took no time and so we had a little time to kill so we went back to the hotel to chill for a bit. The restaurant was only around the corner from the gig (how easy can it get?) and we had ourselves a very nice meal (including a fine array of French cheeses).
The audience was a mixture of young and old and everything in between. You could tell they’d come to listen to music and not only that, it seems they’d taken the time to check out my website because we started getting requests for “Rollin'” and “In The Dead Of Night”, etc., which was dead cool as far as I’m concerned.
As with any good gig, the time just flew and before we knew it the gig was over. A lot of people stuck around to talk to us, have their CD’s signed, talk about Ireland and all sorts of stuff and it was very cosy to just sit there for a while, have a drink or two and talk to the people. It’s a great place and I highly recommend it if you ever happen to be in Metz.
Often breakfast in France is little more than a piece of bread & jam or a croissant but not in Hotel de la Cathédrale. What a spread, with lots and lots of fresh fruit (strawberries the size of plums)!! That was well worth getting up for.
The trip over/down to Strasbourg was only an hour and a half so again we arrived at the hotel in good time. It’s always nice when things aren’t rushed. We checked into what would be our home for the next two days and called the promoter. In this case it wasn’t a French man but an Irish guy – the one and only Pat Cannon. Some of you may remember me talking about him before as he promoted several gigs in Dublin (where I played with Pat McManus as my ‘special guest’). I loved working with him then and I loved working with him this week. Not only is he a truly decent human being but he just loves promoting gigs and he does it so well. He filled us in on what to expect for the coming two nights and later we went around to the club to soundcheck. Again, the hotel was only about 500 yards or so from the gig.
The venue owner is a guy called Serge and he’s quite a character. We had a lot of laughs at the dinner table and he plied us with good food, great cheese and very suitable wine!! What’s that old saying – “living like a God in France”? It sure felt like it on this tour.
The gig on the first night was very satisfactory from a performer’s point of view in that the people came to listen and were very appreciative. That’s always great to get, that kind of feedback, and it tends to bring out the best in an artist when you feel people are really listening to what it is you’re saying or playing.
Breakfast was at the club and after that Pat and his good lady took us on a guided tour of the ‘old town’. Wow, that’s worth checking out if you ever get to Strasbourg.
After we’d visited the cathedral (see photo accompanying this blog) they took us to try out the local specialty – “tarte flambée” It’s an Alsatian dish composed of a thin bread dough rolled out in a rectangular shape and covered with crème fraîche, onions and lardon (bacon). Tasty or what!!
After all that excitement we needed a nap at the hotel to get ourselves in shape for the gig that evening. The French beer company Kronenbourg decided to treat their staff to a night out and they all joined us for St. Patrick’s day at the “Au Camionneur” club for the evening. I must say it led to quite a civilised night and not at all the normal drunk and rowdy crowd you could expect on such a night.
…and that as they say is that. We stayed on at the club and had a few beers (Kronenbourg of course!!) and concluded that we’d just had a string of really nice gigs and a really nice time in Metz & Strasbourg. It’s an area I’d love to visit again, whether as part of a tour or just as a regular tourist.