A wide range of music is popular in France, and as with the other arts, the
French government encourages music to thrive. Famous French classical musicians include
Ravel, Debussy, and the contemporary composer, Pierre Boulez. Ballet and opera also have a
long tradition in France. In the fifties many leading black American jazz musicians spent
time in Paris, and jazz is still extremely popular. The French contribution to jazz music
includes the work of Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt, and his partner, the violinist
Although half of all music albums bought in France are recorded by British or American
bands, the French have their own singers of original French songs. This type of music is
called Variété Française. Edith Piaf was a popular Parisian singer, whose
sentimental ballads were hugely popular internationally as well as in France. The daughter
of an impoverished acrobat, Piaf worked in her fathers troupe before going to work
as a café singer in Paris, where she was discovered by a cabaret owner. Her most famous
songs include Non, Je ne Regrette Rien and La Vie en Rose. She died in 1963.
The Belgian Jonny Halliday, who was a famous rock star in the sixties, is still well-loved
in France, and Patrick Bruel is another figure who appeals to all generations. Serge
Gainsbourg was a very famous and respected French singer-songwriter, who was at his peak
in the 1960s and 70s.
A new generation of popular music in France combines sounds of Africa, the Caribbean,
and Latin America. Cheb Khaled is one of the best-known singers of Algerian raï music,
which has become very big in France. MC Solaar is a famous French-Senegalese rap musician.
Dance music is also gaining popularity in France, with plenty of home-grown talent
including the band Air.
French people of all ages are fond of dancing. Teenagers dance le rock, which
involves jiving with a partner to almost any kind of music. Older people prefer
ballroom-dancing which is accompanied by traditional French music known as Bal Musette,
in which the accordion is the main instrument.
Throughout the year, people in France celebrate local festivals through music and
dance. Some festivals are religious, while others are related to farming or fishing.