The didgeridoo makes a distinctive sound all its own. You don’t easily confuse it with other musical instruments.
But you automatically associate the deep, earthy growl of the didgeridoo with outback Australia or with buskers in Sydney, Brisbane or Perth – certainly not glamorous Paris, France.
Imagine our surprise then as we came face to face with didgeridoo music swirling around the butte Montmartre, mingling with the chatter of tourists outside the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur. We love Paris and, like most people, much of our passion is for the glamour, chic and carefree atmosphere of the City of Light.
With its secluded parks, artists’ studios, cafes and restaurants, Paris exudes romance like no other city we have ever experienced. We soaked it up – the delightful sound of the French language; the early morning smell of coffee and freshly-baked bread; and the colours of the artists and easels on Montmartre – the highest point in the city.
The romanticism of Paris couldn’t get much better. But then, as we paused to admire Sacre-Coeur, the drone of didgeridoo music took us completely by surprise. Don’t get us wrong: it wasn’t offensive or overwhelming and didgeridoo music has long been a world sound – certainly not restricted to Australia.
It was just totally unexpected.
Here we were, a world away from ‘down under’, revelling in Parisian art and architecture, cityscape and riverbanks as we had earlier strolled along the Champs-Élysées and the Avenue de la Grande Armée – and ascended the Eiffel Tower. But suddenly, our homeland caught up amid our new-found bohemia.
We looked at each other and collapsed in laughter. The didgeridoo music – coming from somewhere below Montmartre – seemed so out-of-place echoing through narrow streets that had changed little since the 1800’s. In fact, when we thought about it, the situation was probably rather apt, given that the didgeridoo is an ancient instrument, possibly as much as 1,500 years old.
This incident made our visit to Sacre-Coeur all the more memorable. The Basilica is certainly stunning. We never tire of this marvellous icon in a city that also boasts wonders like the Palais Garnier opera house; Notre Dame Cathedral; the Louvre museum; and the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile.
Credit for photograph of Sacre-Coeur interior: Nave, apse and altar of the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Paris, France. Date 9 May 2006 Source Own work Author Matthew Clemente