French language and culture commentary from the U.S. capital

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Normandy: A Franco-Anglophone Story

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This year marked the 70th anniversary of D-Day (le Jour J), a momentous occasion not only for the liberation of France from Nazi control, but also for the historical importance of this region and its ties with Anglophone nations. In fact, D-Day is only the most recent example of a French and Anglophone relationship that predates the existence of either sovereign nation. While today it’s best known for World War II’s… Read More

Foie Gras 101

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Tis the season for foie gras, the traditional—and sometimes controversial—delicacy beloved by the French during the winter holidays. For those who enjoy it, still many gourmands fail to realize that there are indeed “right” and “wrong” ways to eat the traditional product. Here are a few tips, should you choose to indulge. Do: Slice the foie gras with a non-serrated knife, preferably after the knife has been run under hot water. Refrigerate your… Read More

100 Years of Genius and Mystery: Romain Gary

Romain Gary

On Friday, December 5th at 7 p.m., we at the Alliance Française de Washington, DC will celebrate the 100 year anniversary of famed French author, diplomat, film director, and pilot, Romain Gary’s birth. The mysterious author—who went on to win the prestigious Prix Goncourt twice, under two different names—would publish a total of 50 works under five different names over the course of his lifetime, becoming a cornerstone of modern French… Read More

French Thanksgiving in the New World

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The story of the “first” Thanksgiving feast between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people in the fall of 1621 is one that is told every year as the third Thursday in November approaches, but aside from the American holiday, thanksgiving ceremonies have always taken place in all regions and cultures to give thanks for any number of blessings, victories, and achievements. Consider the feast organized by the Spanish in May of 1541 for… Read More

15 signes qui montrent que vous êtes Français (ou sur le point de le devenir!)

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Vous êtes un(e) Français(e) expatrié(e) aux Etats-Unis, ou un(e) américain(e) amoureux de la culture française (et peut-être aussi d’un(e) français(e)…). Vous “tailgatez”, vous portez des sneakers (ou des hunters), vous utilisez une credit card et vous buvez dans des verres XXL…Mais dans votre coeur, la France n’est jamais loin et il y a des signes qui ne trompent pas quant à vos origines ou vos préférences… 1) Vous mangez du fromage à tous les… Read More

Le bourru est arrivé!

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Beaujolais nouveau, the short-fermented red wine released just weeks after the grapes are harvested, is increasingly becoming known in American tradition thanks to the widespread marketing push behind this Gamay wine as the first new French wine of the season. Long celebrated with great amusement and fanfare in France, its release at 12:01 on the third Thursday of November is rapidly growing in popularity in the U.S. as well. Beaujolais’ white counterpart, le bourru, on the other hand, remains… Read More

Les vignerons puristes

GAUBY

“A ‘rustic’ wine is one that can be described as hearty, earthy or rough-edged.” – @AskDrVinny @WineSpectator Flavor Delivery Vehicles In the south of France, well away from the limelight that shines on organically certified wines and biodynamic vineyards live the two arguable greatest adherents of a stern oenological philosophy. Premised on simplicity, respect for natural circumstance, and non-intervention, Domaines Gauby and Gramenon craft some of the world’s darkest, most enveloping… Read More

Four Influential French Inventions

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If you were to ask yourself in what areas the French are at their best, the first things that come to mind probably fall in the realms of food, art, cinema, or the like. And while these are undoubtedly among their assets, France’s men and women have also made countless other contributions to the world that would certainly be missed if they had never come into existence. Here are just a few… Read More

Lavender: The Beauty of Provence Inside and Out

Lavender

Vibrant violaceous lavender blooms sweeping the arid fields of Provence is one of the most emblematic postcard images of France—and extends to the point of legend. The story goes that a young girl named Lavandula was dismayed when she saw the wasted bounty of the Lubéron land and her resulting teardrops were scattered across the region, sprouting to form the colorful blooms that now mark the hilltop towns of Apt and Gordes, as well… Read More

Beyond the Meow: Six “Phrases Idiomatiques” Based On Animals

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We generally think of language as humans’ domain, but having lived for so much of our history in such close proximity to members of the animal kingdom, it’s not surprising that their habits have infiltrated our spoken word.  Indeed, we’ve found unique ways to transcribe their tongues into our own languages: there’s le chat qui fait miaou, le chien qui fait ouah ouah, or le canard qui fait coin-coin. Beyond these words for animal sounds, cultures have… Read More

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