They say the 18 Arrondissement is the heart of manouche, the unique Parisian Gypsy jazz style created by Django Reinhardt back in the 1930s. I stayed in the 20 Arrondissement, just to the south east, but strolling down Rue Oberkampf looking for somewhere to eat, I happened upon the Berzinc Café and even from the street, I was hit with the unmistakable swing of a manouche jazz jam session.
These were terrifically talented performers - three guitars, accordion and violin - energetic, precise, flexible, upbeat, making music in by no means the most prestigious of Parisian venues. In fact, besides me and my travelling companion, there was only one other table of five, focussed on eating and talking.
But the musicians were there for the thrill of music making and tore through more than 15 or 20 pieces in the time we were there. May be the Berzinc Café on the Rue Oberkampf doesn't cut it with the legendary venues in the 20th Arrondissement, but my surprise discovery was an unexpected musical gift in Paris. And if you're wondering - the food was spectacular: highly recommended.