(reedited and corrected from a June 2002 article in "the Lance Monthly on the net") by Astro le Mocker
There was a time when French rockers were in sync with the US and UK scenes: The Punk years! It's no mystery, considering the fact that the formative years of Punk were made up of intellectual artists in Manhattan who dabbled with the avant-garde and actually knew how to read decadent literature by Oscar Wilde, Rimbaud, Verlaine, or Burrough, and were inspired by the Situationnists' and the Dadaïsts' movements. It naturally appealed to the intellectual side of the French, and it gave credibility to French rockers with some kind of a seal of approval by the academics as long as it stayed in the art circles and didn't spill out into the streets (the Londoners, as we all know, took care of that!).
In fact, Punk in France was all about a small elite group who congregated around "Open Market," the record shop of Marc Zermati (the notorious owner of the Sky Dog label which once relaunched the dying career of Iggy pop and who now resides in Japan where he takes care of Japanese underground rock groups!) mainly situated in the middle of Paris, in the world renowned 1st district called "Les Halles." This shop was truly a rallying center for wired-up people who had assimilated subversive literature and were very hip rock fans searching for obscure, US garage-rock memorabilia like the Shadows of Knight or the Nuggets' comp.
All the French bands, who were to become important in the scene, already existed in the early '70s in the wake of the Velvet Underground, the New York Dolls, Stooges/ MC5s and Andy Warhol's Factory : Asphalt Jungle, Métal Urbain, Stinky Toys, Marie et les Garçons, and Electric Callas even though the Sex Pistols made their first and only appearance at the Chalet du Lac night club, in the woods of Vincennes on the outskirts of Paris, in September '76. Most of them had already seen the 'Pistols the year before in London, anyway! In fact, the gig of the New York Dolls in Paris much earlier was the true turning point which enabled a lot of active people to meet, so that when the punk scene was taking place in '76/ '77, people already knew each other and had already played on the same stage!