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Putumayo Presents: French Cafe
List Price: $15.98

Our Price: $8.40

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Product Description

Although far from definitive (no Edith Piaf in sight!), this enchanting compilation delivers a perfect aural snapshot of what spending a late summer afternoon in a French cafe actually feels like. The supreme elegance and understated approach that lie at the core of these 13 tracks will delight fans of sophisticated pop. As is the case with previous Putumayo releases, the sequencing is seamless, combining the endearingly old-fashioned flavor of George Brassens with the iconoclastic romanticism of George Gainsbourg and the sultry whispers of a youthful Brigitte Bardot. Better yet, the disc spends some valuable time introducing listeners to a new generation of French musicians who have embraced the traditional chanson format while incorporating fresh elements into the mix. Try the light-as-a-feather caress of female vocalist Enzo Enzo, the sweet playfulness of the electronica-informed Mathieu Boogaerts, and the irrepressible optimism of Paris Combo--a jazzy quintet that represents the French cafe ambiance at its cosmopolitan best. --Ernesto Lechner

Customer Reviews:

  • Superb collection, absolute recommend
    Great stroll through the best selections of classic and modern French music. Suprisingly very upbeat (some Francophiles like the more 'brooding' nature of a lot of French music, but not me). Excellent addition to your music collection. Thank you Putumayo!...more info
  • A Great Collection!
    Another great album from Putumayo. They sure know how to put together the best world themed compilations! This one is another winner. This collection has the modern artists like Coralie Clement and Paris Combo with the classics like Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot. I especially love Ondule by Mathieu Boogaerts. It's a fun, poppy tune. Check it out! info
  • Tre' Bon
    Everything about this made me yearn to return to France, as i had been there just the year before. The light beat to the chanson songs made me wish i was sitting on the cobbled streets of Paris or the south of France, enjoying "un cafe" and watching everything just pass me by as i lingered on every sip of the always-fabulous rich brew that French all did so well. (A croissant on the side wouldn't go astray!)
    This is one album that i can't get enough of....more info
  • Crooning Jazzy Sultry Musique De Cafe
    Putumayo presents another well-crafted collection of tunes evoking the mood of a particular place, in this case the much-romanticized street-side French cafe. An interesting aspect of this compilation is that Putumayo did their research and went for authenticity rather than an American idealization of what many would ANTICIPATE hearing at a French cafe. (The solo accordion pieces ain't here, folks.) You'll hear authentic French artists performing their best chops, not something Disney-esque or "Rugrats in Paris"-like. The result is a breezy, easy to listen to, largely club-jazz album that may make one want to whip out a hard baguette to gnaw on.

    Paris Combo does a fine job on their two pieces, delivering smooth, low-key vocals backed by a serviceable jazz quartet. Serge Gainsbourg sultrily growls in his piece, evoking passion showing how his music reached superstar status in France (even recording a couple of albums with Brigitte Bardot, also featured here). Enzo Enzo's wispy vocals waft from one's stereo light and airy, emulating a musical breeze. Some may find a tune or two somewhat pretentious (as many things French can be easily deemed) but most of the songs are by-and-large quite discreet. One could almost imagine an alternate album title: French Lounge Lizard...


    As with all Putumayo albums, the liner notes are so informative and interesting, they bear meantioning in a review. The clean, crisp production is in typical Putumayo fashion, very high.

    FRENCH CAFE comes highly recommended for those who've been France and want an album that'll take you back. Also recommended for those in search of a change of pace album good for setting a low-light mood. Overall, an unobtrusive and enjoyable collection....more info
  • In Paris
    It really does feel like I'm sitting in a cafe in Paris. It makes me want to go to France!...more info
  • Not my cup of cafe
    The Putumayo World Music Hour devoted one of their weekly programs (MOSTLY) to this album.While it was perfect as background music for an hourlong drive to Santa Rosa,I was glad I HEARD it on the radio for free instead of buying the CD for myself.

    "French Cafe" is lauded because it's French,like the settings&characters in the bestselling "Da Vinci Code." As I found the novel "Da Vinci Code" overrated&boring (oh my!the descendant of Jesus&Mary Magdalene is the redheaded Sophie Neveu!Alors!),so I find it with this album.

    Brigitte Bardot is good at sulking musically;the sex symbol version of Edith Piaf.Serge Gainsbourg groans in his songs,as if overcome with ennui.Paris Combo is mult-culti,but it comes across as strained&sappy.

    When it comes to French music,I prefer Lo'Jo.Denis Pean sounds like Serge Gainsbourg,but he also has Yamina&Nadia El Mourid to counterbalance him.Lo'Jo offers a spicy musical ratatouille;this album is as sappily sweet as a cream puff.Chocolate-filled croissants are great,just not in excess....more info
  • Very Good for Developing Your French Listening Skills
    This turned out to be exactly the sort of French music I had been looking for to help me develop my French auditory processing skills. The lyrics are as crisp as can be, the simple instrumental support does not get in the way of hearing the words, and the pacing of the language is slow enough that the words don't get all jumbled together. That's true on every song. The accompanying liner notes booklet contains about one page in English and one page in French about each of the songs. The one drawback is that the lyrics are not included. As another reviewer reported, most of the lyrics can be found at as long as you have the dedication to search out one song at a time. Just pasting in the title of a song from Amazon's listing does not always yield the song immediately. There are some spelling variations. Sometimes you will need to browse an alphabetical title list or search on the name of the artist first in order to find a title....more info
  • french cafe - excellent
    This brings back fond memories. Ca me reviens au temps perdu.
    Merci bien....more info
  • Classics- Truly French
    If you want something that sounds like you are in the heart of France- this is the music for you....more info
    DELICIOSO!! este es una maravilloso disco para escuchar en cualquier momento, te transporta directo a un peque?o caf¨¦ parisino!!...more info
  • Excellent!
    This is a really lovely collection of Frenchy music--you really do feel transported to a cafe somewhere in France. I love it!...more info
  • We love it
    I am French Canadian, my husband English and we both love it. It's very European. ...more info
  • A terrific French ensemble
    I chose to buy this CD because I was looking for a good collection of and introduction to French musicians (past and present). A major attraction of this album is the lengthy, detailed booklet it comes with that tells about each group or singer on the album and gives a rough translation of the lyrics in English. (Note: a complete translation in English is not provided, just a few lines) Summaries of the songs' subjects in English are provided, though. If you understand/can translate French, I highly recommend reading the lyrics because it just adds another dimension of enjoyment and appreciation of the songs. I was able to find the French lyrics to all of the songs, except for the last song, on

    While it is true that this album is most likely not an accurate representation of the music playing at French cafes today, it is still a great collection and introduction to some great French artists. I will definitely be looking into buying the albums of some of the groups/singers on this CD. The music is jazzy, light-hearted, and relaxing and has been playing and replaying in my stereo for days....more info

  • J'aime bien la chanson fran?aise
    The title of the compilation is a little misleading, since there's a difference between what you might hear in "le caf¨¦" (Georges Brassens, Barbara) vs. what you might hear in "le club" (Paris Combo, Serge Gainsbourg), and there's a difference between traditional French "chanson" and "le pop." But for all that, this is a great collection, even if you don't speak the language. My local music store just seems to stock Maurice Chevalier, Edith Piaf, and the occasional Jacques Brel CD, but this gave me nice taste of what else is available, so I've already bought Paris Combo's ATTRACTION and I'm now looking for a good Georges Brassens collection....more info
  • Musical Hors d'Oeuvres Present a Diverse Gallic Musical Landscape
    Putumayo always puts out good, eclectic collections, and this one is no exception. The title conjures up images of Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron dancing on the Seine, Edith Piaf ripping her heart out with "La Vie en Rose" and a hot demitasse with a couple of madeleines. Listening to this album will not provide such a complete throwback, but it will make you appreciate the different textures of popular French musical styles - genres like chanson (French song), musette (traditional style influenced by immigrants) and manouche (gypsy jazz). The eclecticism is enhanced by the wide variety of performers presented here from contemporary artists to legendary stylists since WWII.

    The old guard is represented by the likes of Serge Gainsbourg, a controversial figure and notorious womanizer, whose song here, "Marilou Sous la Neige", a rather tame pop ballad, sounds a bit like Gordon Lightfoot. Two of his lovers are represented as well - Jane Birkin, who provides an updated version of Gainsbourg's "Elaeudanla Teiteia" swimming through what sounds like a Wurlitzer organ, and sex kitten Brigitte Bardot showing surprising jazz vocal chops on "Un Jour Comme un Autre". A charming-sounding chanteuse named simply Barbara contributes a musical tribute to a criminal in "Si la Photo est Bonne", and George Brassens' guitar-plucked "Je M'Suis Fait Tout Petit" is cafe chanson at its most heavily Gallic.

    The newer tracks hold up well to their predecessors with Paris Combo proving two manouche songs with style, the mood-setting opener "Fibre de Verre" and "On N'a Pas Besoin" with exemplary guitar by Potzi and trumpet by David Lewis. Sanseverino provides a bouncy track with a Stephane Grapelli-like jazz violin that reminds me quite a bit of Manhattan Transfer. Matthieu Boogaerts' "Ondule" sounds like a Gallic version of a Jason Mraz song with an unearthly calliope-like instrument. Coralie Clement contributes a breathy performance complete with undulating seashore sounds on "La Mer Opale", and Enzo Enzo's "Juste Quelqu'un de Bien" is a smoky chanson with a compelling jazz guitar. The CD comes with an informative booklet which gives mini-biographies on all the performers and the genesis of their songs. This is a genuine musical treat for Francophiles. C'est si bon....more info
  • Got the Paris bug? :)
    This cd was playing in a beautiful little shop in the Detroit Radisson Hotel recently. It caught my attention the second that I walked through the door and I ended up "keeping busy" in the store just so that I could listen to it. I listened to several songs and fell in love with it! I went through a long process to figure out what it was that was playing, as the hotel had different cds on automatic rotate throughout the complex and no one had any idea how to find out which one was playing. lol. I finally got the answer and was able to purchase it at one of the hotel shops! :) I am very pleased! It is such a relaxing dreamy cd. If I would have seen the case of it first, I would not have been drawn to it as it looks very "high pace, hustle and bustle" (I know I know, you can't judge a book by its cover!:)But the music on this cd isn't what I would have expected from seeing the cover. I love it! I am looking into the other cds in this series because it is so great! So far, the Brazillian one is also fabulous!...more info
  • Agreeable French Sampler
    A very pleasant selection of contemporary French jazz pop fusion that should please any Francophile....more info