Jean Labre (photos M. Vicent-Roubert)All the Harmonicas
of the World ...
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The Franc Pinot
In Paris, you just have to cross a bridge and you are in Saint Louis island, a mythical world where many celebrities have chosen to live. Isles have always had, an undefinable magic and this is true even in the heart of Paris.
Recently, I had to cross the Marie bridge to attend a concert. At the end of it, I walked along the romantic waterfront. And suddenly found myself facing an old iron sign adorned with a bunch of grapes, the « Franc Pinot » ! Back into the past... As far as I can remember I had not walked through this place since 1954. Magical complicity of this autumn night, when I pushed the door I found myself in a place full of memories... I was 20 years old then !
I was warmly welcomed by the new boss. I instantly realised that he was looking forward to hear tales from the distant harmonica past of the Franc Pinot, he was listening to me with great interest. I told him the very beginning of the story, when Borrah Minevitch purchased The Franc Pinot at the beginning of the fifties, a place where since three centuries, middle class and artists came to slum it. Then it was the harmonicas players who patronized the Franc Pinot...
It's in the flat above that Borrah Minnevitch died in 1955. Nowadays jazz is played there.
Delighted by this return in the past my host suggested visiting the premises. Apart from a few changes in the first level, nothing has really changed in the medieval cellar with its small stage, its grand piano, or in the other vaulted cellar reserved for privates appointments... yes, nothing has changed, the decoration, the wall tiles are the same.
Time has elapsed. Borrah Minnevitch has left us a priceless heritage, a musical and scenic quality in the pure « Music-Hall » tradition, unmatched until now. Those shows around the world with his « Rascals » : Johnny Puleo, Richard Hayman, Jerry Murad, Don Less, Pete Pedersen, and the others... Unforgettable !

That night spent with my memories had been really a magical night.
Early in the morning, I crossed back the Marie bridge to return to my home, sweet home.

Jean Labre

*Island Saint Louis is a World Heritage by UNESCO.
Situated 1 quai Bourbon, Ile Saint Louis 75004 Paris
Published February 27th 2016


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