In Depth

Musician Kyle Eastwood’s insider guide to Paris

The movie icon’s son has lived in Paris for almost a decade where he built his music career. He takes us on a tour of his favourite haunts

I first came to Paris in the 1970s with my mother – we would visit the UK, France and Italy and do an art-and-culture trip. At that time, I had no idea of the link between Paris and jazz. It wasn’t until I started learning the piano that I heard how Sidney Bechet, Bud Powell and so many greats had been welcomed by the French and made the city their home.

Europe at the time seemed like a good place to be an American jazz musician – something that was confirmed when I started playing here. So, about nine years ago, I moved first to London, then Paris – and I’m still here.

If people ask me where to go and see jazz in Paris, I always tell them to check out Rue des Lombards first – there are three or four clubs along this stretch. Sunset Sunside (00 33 1 40 26 46 60; sunset-sunside.com) has one club above the other, with different shows in each. Sunset tends to be electric, whereas Sunside favours more acoustic acts.

The Ducs des Lombards (00 1 42 33 22 88; ducdeslombards.com) has a very intimate feel, especially if you’re sitting downstairs, where you’ll find yourself right next to the band. In the tiny upstairs area at La Baiser Salé (00 33 1 42 33 37 71; lebaisersale.com) there’s a mixed programme – anything from chanson and Latin to Afro-beat and modern jazz.

My favourite venue here is New Morning (00 33 1 45 23 51 41; newmorning.com). With a lot of world music on the bill, it’s something of a jazz shrine – Chet Baker, Miles Davis and Dizzy all graced what was an old garage with their presence. The sound is pretty amazing, too, and it pulls a mixed crowd. In fact, I find the audiences cover a much broader age range here than in the US or UK. Plenty of younger people listen to jazz – they have a great feel for the music and are very knowledgeable.

It’s also worth checking to see if there’s a festival on. The summer Paris Jazz Festival (parisjazzfestival.fr), held in the open-air hall in Parc Floral, the botanic gardens, runs through June and July. There’s always a family-friendly atmosphere and a first-class line-up.

Paris is a great place for walking or cycling. I love strolling through the Jardin du Luxembourg, and I often pick up a Vélib’ bike (velib.paris), which are a bit like London’s Boris bikes, and cycle around. Paris is such a pretty city; there’s something beautiful around every corner. But if I had to pick one building, it would be the Palais Garnier opera house (operadeparis.fr). It’s incredibly lovely, inside and out. Of the city’s museums, the Musée d’Orsay (musee-orsay.fr) is my favourite.

When people visit, I take them to a local bar-restaurant called Le Vin de Bellechasse (00 33 1 47 05 11 11). It’s just up the road from where I live, and not at all touristy. Or for something in the classic Parisian tradition, we’ll go to the Brasserie Balzar on rue des Ecoles (00 3 1 43 54 13 67; brasseriebalzar.com) for the poulet rôti – a delicious roast chicken that’s pretty hard to beat. 

Kyle Eastwood, the son of actor-director Clint Eastwood and model Maggie Johnson, is a bass player, composer and producer. He has contributed to the soundtracks of several of his father’s films, including Letters from Iwo Jima and Gran Torino.

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