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Hasse Poulsen

Paris is a city in perpetual motion and conducive to creativity.

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Away from downtown Paris ? :

  • 30 mn away at max
  • 1 h away at max
  • 1.30 h away at max


Hasse Poulsen

Follow the route up and down, up your desire.

Paris Ile-de-France as seen by...

Hasse Poulsen

Paris Ile-de-France as seen by... Hasse Poulsen

Paris is a city in perpetual motion and conducive to creativity.

Danish guitarist Hasse Poulsen is one of the most creative figures of young European jazz. His view of Paris Ile-de-France is like his music: liberated and iconoclastic.

Why did you come to live in Paris ?

It was 1997. A friend of my parents offered me a little studio he owned in Odéon. I arrived with my guitars. The very first day I called a musician friend, Benoît Delbecq, who straight away asked me to come and play with him at the Instants Chavirés, the jazz club where all the young French scene used to meet. I was adopted immediately and I realized that I had found the place where I could live my life as a musician as I understood it.

As a foreigner and a jazz musician, what idea did you have of Paris before you moved here ?

As a child I had been surrounded by the myth of Paris as the "city of the arts"... I came for the first time when I was 17 with the school for a very touristy visit and then I came the following year hitch-hiking from Denmark with a friend. During that stay I remember going to see a Miles Davis concert at the Salle Pleyel. It was the first time I had been to a jazz concert in such a big and prestigious hall. I realized that Paris really was a city which gave a very special place to all forms of art and especially jazz, which is really part of the culture here.

And what were your first impressions when you moved here ?

To go against all the clichés, I immediately found the Parisians very welcoming. I think the French are very interested in everything happening in the world. It is perfectly possible for a foreign artist, working in any field, to have a career here. And that is where France's strength and the extraordinary creative energy of Paris lies, in this sense of open-mindedness... This keenness for the other allows this ancient culture to constantly incorporate new inspirations from outside: that is an integral part of the French identity.

What are your favourite districts ?


When I arrived, I spent my time on the boulevards: Pigalle, with all its music shops, and Barbès. I loved their working-class, cosmopolitan character... Then, of course, you realise that the picturesque conceals real poverty... But the dynamism of these districts is undeniable... I lived in Barbès, on Rue Marcadet, for two years and it was really enjoyable. Although people are converging there from everywhere, you quickly find your bearings and there is a real district life.

 
Do you like walking in Paris ?

I really like getting lost in Paris. Taking my bike and cycling off randomly. You are never disappointed, you always discover something new. But I also love doing completely the opposite, taking a basic tourist guide and going for a walk in the historic quarter around Notre Dame, strolling along the river banks - it is magnificent, especially at night. Generally speaking, I have no nostalgia for old Paris, black and white photos by Doisneau - what I am interested in is Paris now. I like to walk through the districts which are being transformed, like around the Grande Bibliothèque in Bercy. I think that there are really interesting architectural propositions over there. This marriage between tradition and the ultramodern, which can be seen almost everywhere in a very planned way, is very stimulating for the imagination.

Does Paris inspire you ?

Enormously. Paris is a city in perpetual motion and conducive to creativity. For a musician it is a fantastic palette to work from. Everyone comes here to be inspired, to culturally nourish themselves. Paris is a city built of stone but also of ideas. Nature is excluded. That gives a very specific sense and taste of abstraction. What people sometimes call Parisian arrogance I think is this feeling that all of the city's inhabitants share of being part of a story, being the product of a culture of global importance.


What would you advise somebody coming to Paris for the first time to see first ?

The Eiffel tower of course! It is magnificent! Parisians don't realize, they think it is just for tourists but they are wrong. You must go to the top of the Eiffel tower, to the Moulin-Rouge - they are magical places. And eating oysters at the brasserie Flo after a show is unique !


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