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(Credits: Far Out / YouTube / Rolling Stones)

Travel

Get exiled in The Rolling Stones' France

France. It’s the home country of de Gaulle, Depardieu and Dimanche. It’s the land of ‘La Marseillase’, it’s the region of opportunity and presentation, as it formulates whole canyons of thought through a series of finely thought out portraits of the world at large.

The landscape feeds into The Rolling Stones mythology and trajectory, although it’s nonetheless one of the more nicely articulated of the country’s sense of artistry and history. The band have taken a liking to the country, due to the fact that it holds a flavour that’s as unique and singular as they are.

In this list, Far Out has made the decision to look at some of the more popular emblems in the area that has steeped into the band’s personal history and trajectory. As to whether or not the country will continue to feature in their orbit in this post-pandemic orbit, time will only tell.

As Mick Jagger sang, time waits for no one, and if this is it for the band, they have embraced the country with great interest over the years. In this list, we attempt to piece together a view of their France, which may influence your France.

5. Bastide St Antoine

Bassist Bill Wyman enjoyed the solitude of the French countryside, especially since it meant solitude from the other members of the band that frequently discarded his efforts for the paltrier songs Mick Jagger and Keith Richards deemed acceptable for their fans. Washed in the countryside, Wyman threw himself in the propensity of the surroundings, becoming a more thoughtful person because of it. And such as he wrapped himself in the scenery, he remembered the area in his greatest single, ‘Si, Si, Je Suis Un Rock Star’.

The bassist opted to choose a region that hasn’t been overly populated, and although his music sounded Côte d’Azur, his choice of the region was accessible and deeply unpretentious. Instead, it’s a place that much like the bassist who lived there was sure of itself and happy to embrace its unique flavour. It’s a beautiful spot in the French lands, and could very well turn into the refuge for disenfranchised musicians aching to return to plainer pastures.

4. Plaza Athénée Hotel

Vocalist Mick Jagger checked himself into this enterprising hotel in the early 1970s and spent much of 1972 coming to and from the hotel, sensing that it gave him a place of comfort and home in an industry that was striving to rid him of it. The singer still holds France dearly in his heart, giving him a sense of purpose and passion that mirrors the power of his work. Watch any interview of Jagger speaking French, and you will see how easily he speaks the language of love.

Situated close to the Eiffel Tower, the hotel simply screams PARIS and stands as one of the city’s more interesting hotels. No, it’s not necessarily the cheapest way to experience the city, but when it serves The Stones – the closest thing in the rock canon to royalty, barring Freddie Mercury himself – then it’s definitely a trip worth investing in.

3. Nellcôte

Guitarist Keith Richards rented this villa for a period of time before he was asked to leave France due to legal problems in August 1971. The 16-room mansion is emblematic of the Belle Époque era, overlooking the headland above the sea at Villefranche-sur-Mer. If it sounds a bit Côte d’Azur for your humble tastes, it’s likely it’s because the villa circulates the headlands of the French Riviera. The landscape is one of the more idyllic areas in the country, which is why the mansion made an impression on Richards, the band’s primary songwriter and dominant musical force.

Richards felt that the country liberated his creative muse. “Basically because we could not find a studio in the south of France that we felt that we could record in, so we kind of got there by default,” Richards said. “We thought, ‘Well, we’ll just rehearse in my basement while we find a place to record.’ After a couple of weeks, we just looked at each other and sort of gave up looking anywhere else. We got it here, you know?”

Keith Richards and Anita Pallenberg (Credit: Alamy)

2. Pathé-Marconi Studios

This was the studio where the Rolling Stones came together to create many of their most noteworthy tracks, and it made an impression on Ronnie Wood, who worked with the Rolling Stones for the first time in this studio in 1977. The band were embracing punk in the city that celebrated rebellion in the 1960s. Paris was also the city that had witnessed an uprising against the bourgeoisie in the 18th century, and the working classes made sure that their voices were heard in an effort to celebrate the spirit of anarchy and fire, burning through the belly of the underworld

Much of this spark led to the band, who recorded some of their most raw, rollicking work in the studio, happy in the knowledge that they had tuned themselves into the spirits of the men and women who had built this city of abandon and gusto for the rockers to carve their most contemporary sounding work. The band took to the Parisian streets like a duck returning to water after a long voyage in the sky.

1. Stade de France

The Rolling Stones performed one of the best concerts of their lives at the Stade de France in 1998. It occurred only days after the French victory in the World Cup, and the band who had long adopted France as their home away from home were there to celebrate with the country. The guitars and vocals were exhilarating, but there’s more to the Stade de France than relics of a bygone era in rock and roll subterfuge. The stadium – found in Saint Denis – is nominally a haven for football and rugby games, which generates an excitement comparable to a stadium gig for veteran rock players to plug in their instruments and play.

The Stade de France is also a key place for rugby games, as the French country has long prided itself on having one of the most accomplished rugby teams in the world. Indeed, they rival Ireland as Europe’s most consistently powerful rugby team. What the Stade de France will show next has yet to be seen, but whatever it will be, it won’t be boring. The Stade de France doesn’t do boring.