60 Minute Cities- Paris
60 Minute Cities- Paris
[Purchase includes all audio tracks in Mp3 format and PDF with track descriptions.]
Audio Track Listing:
1- Marché Des Enfants Rouge (6:00) / 2- Panthéon (6:00) / 3- Place Igor Stravinsky (6:00) / 4- Arts et Métiers Metro (6:00) / 5- Jardin Du Luxembourg (6:00) / 6- La Rotonde Cafe Bastille (6:00) / 7- Bellvile Parc (6:00) / 8- Marché D'Aligre (6:00) / 9- Rue Mouffetard (6:00)(Click here to download) / 10- Bassin De L'Arsenal (6:00)
When I was first contacted about participating in 60 Minute Cities, I was thrilled, because it couldn’t have come at a more interesting time.
To understand my recordings it is important to understand my situation. I am a 25 year old from the UK. In September 2016, I undertook a big change in my life and followed my girlfriend, Wendy, to her home city of Paris.
I had never previously been out of the UK for more than 2 weeks at a time. Whilst geographically close, the cultures of the countries are strikingly different. The French hold their language and way of life close to their hearts. From the culture shock in moving to England that Wendy had experienced, I knew I would receive something similar. I had also never really tried to learn a language before. As is the case with many native English speakers, I had never taken language learning seriously at school and had forgotten nearly everything other than a few words.
It is hard to say exactly why I wasn’t more excited. I think it had a lot to do with the level of uncertainty and the scale of the challenge that I faced. With limited savings, I had no idea of how easily I would pick up the language or find a job. (France’s unemployment rate sits stubbornly around 10%) This always rested in the back of my mind. In such an expensive city it was necessary to live frugally. I couldn’t afford to eat out much or enjoy the cities’ nightlife. Instead, I spent time visiting art galleries and museums (free for EU citizens under 26) parks, markets and just walking the streets.
My contribution is a sonic diary of my explorations of Paris through a cold, grey autumn. The experience was sometimes daunting and isolating, often surreal but always beautiful and fascinating. As I write this now, I am sitting in my new flat in the southern city of Toulouse, ready to start my first job in France shortly.
All of these recordings have a deep meaning to me because they will forever represent a time in my life when I was at my most uncertain and at my most curious. I tried to revisit and record places that were not just noteworthy in their character, but also held particular thoughts or emotions for me.
France’s national security is still on high alert following the recent terrorist attacks. I grew accustomed to having my bags checked at the entrances to most buildings and walking past national security teams armed with assault rifles. Due to this, the majority of my recordings were done stealthily using the ‘binaural’ recording technique. Because of this, the best way to listen to the recordings is with headphones, as you will get a sense of direction, (although you can still enjoy perfectly well without).
16.11.27 / Marché d’Aligre / This is one of my favorite recordings that I captured whilst in Paris / Its the sound of a proper French market, captured early enough that the din of traffic is barely present, giving the recording room to breathe / This alone would be something to get out of bed for on a Saturday morning as a Parisian / As I arrive in the neighborhood, the quarter is just stirring / I see virtually no one on the streets / Suddenly as I turn a corner I find the market / Rows and rows of vegetable stalls, with just the last few boxes still being unpacked from graffiti plastered vans / As I walk down the road I am invited to view the produce / The call that rings out in the recording is simply the price – “un euro, un euro, un euro…” / Only when I reach the central square do I become aware of how big the market is / To one side stands an indoor market selling meats, cheeses, fish, flowers, and vegetables / To the other is a flea market / It holds all sorts of things, including second hand books, old vinyls, a plethora of bric-a-brack and a several stalls with a wide selection of African artifacts / The flea market rests in the shadows of a semicircular 8-storey apartment block / Between the flea market and the indoor market, a long row of fabric-roofed market stalls stretches into the distance; each one selling fresh produces from across the world / Before I start recording I do several laps of the market to get a feel for it / By the time I’m in position to record, the market is already twice as busy / Parisians commence their weekly ritual, exploring the vast options available / The rustle of vegetables being picked and placed into plastic bags can be heard throughout the recording / Adjusting to the French way of life and actually enjoying it were two different stages that I wasn’t expecting to encounter individually / Spending time with a French family included such practices / Each week we visited a market in the suburbs / Whilst I wasn’t obliged to come it was seen as a family event / Again the traditions continued from the market right to the dinner table / Often we would spend hours for a food sitting, starting with an aperitif, followed by a starter, then the main course, then desert, then cheese, and finally a coffee / In my family household in the UK, the other aspects of life would take priority / Eating, if together, would often have been a short lived affair, usually with a television playing in the background / Convenience was the only thing that mattered when buying food, which was normally acquired in the form of the antithesis to the Parisian market: an online supermarket shop / Only when I started visiting markets on my own did I begin to understand the enjoyment of the process / There is a sense of contentness in the voices that we can hear in the recording / The purposefulness, repetition and simplicity of waking up early to choose good quality food for you and your loved ones to share, has an air of integrity to it //
About the Artist:
Ben Gale (Somerset, UK 1991) is a field recordist and sound editor currently living in the south of France / His passion for field recording began whilst studying music technology at university, when he attended a sound recording course in Iceland / Since then he has been exploring the sonic world around him and gaining experience in capturing fragments of it / This is Ben’s first field recording release / Ben’s other work includes location recording and sound editing for film and documentary, as well as his ongoing personal project producing childrens’ audiobooks with binaural sound design //