For you Francophiles


The spankin' new website for the American Friends of Chantilly is up and running.
The "archives" section features the writing of yours truly.

As some of you know, the AFC is a non-profit based in Nashville and started by Francophiles. The group supports the arts in the Domaine (town) de (of) Chantilly. I had the pleasure and great fortune of living and working in this quaint, posh, equestrian, SEXY jewel of a town. (Sexy is in the eye of the beholder, but in my mind sexy involves having more horses than people and treating every morsel of carbohydrates as a work of high art...it doesn't hurt that the Hermès family lives here and the Château has the largest selection of French art outside the Louvre.)

So many people spend tiring, stressful hours trying to hit up the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Musée D'Orsay, the Centre Pompidou...and forget all together about soaking in the culture. My one suggestion for the next time you travel to Paris for pleasure (and in France, it's ALL about pleasure...) is this: take the 20 minute train ride to Chantilly. You won't be dissappointed and if you're anything like the friends and family I've taken there, you'll not only see it as a pleasant respite from the city...it may just become the highlight of your trip.

Oh how I miss drinking rosé after French class with Caroline, Devi and Sarah (my German, Indonesian and English friends, respectively). How I miss the pre-dinner baguette run and two hour post-lunch rides through the forest. Eating copious amounts of Mont D'Or and hearing children say, repeatedly, j'en ai marre! ranks right up there as well. Being poor enough to split a burger from McDo's does not rank up there...although it DOES help in staying in competitive French shape. Vive la France!

I've had a couple people ask me recently where they can practice speaking French along with sundry other France related questions.

Here's some info:


Alliance Française: Check it out for lectures, speaking groups and fun soirées

Where to speak French in Birmingham:
UAB has two weekly French tables
there is also a MEETUP group
The Hoover Library has infrequent language tables as well.
(Please let me know what I'm missing!)


French investment in AL
Recent news: French see AL as fertile business investment ground
Did you know that an Honorary Consul of France lives and teaches in Auburn, AL? (Insert AU joke here.)


Chez Lulu and Continental Bakery
Chez FonFon- Frank Stitt continues to impress even the most discerning Frenchies themselves
Café de Paris - Recently they've been having weekly wine tastings from different local importers. Make sure you meet owners/chefs Serge and Evens. Every time I've visited, they've made a point to meet patrons, share stories and engage in a little français.


Where I buy French cheese: Whole Foods (try Époisses, Comté and St. Nectaire for starters.) It is far better to have a personal importer in the form of a boyfriend when it comes to cheese. (But not saucisson, that's illegal.)

What MUSIC I listen to when I'd rather be in Paris:

Charlotte Gainsbourg (check out her new album IRM)
Nina Simone
Edith Piaf
MC Solaar (a good jumping off point into the wide and wonderful world of French rap)
Doc Gyneco (caution: explicit...but if you don't speak French, it doesn't matter!)

What has tickled my fancy lately:

An Education (not because I relate to it, but because it's simply beautiful and Carey Mulligan is a STAR), Lancôme High Résolution (because good skin is oh-so-French), Tory Burch flats (yeah, I know she is American, but the inspiration she draws from both France and India is just parfait to me).

...or, just google Je t'aime moi non plus ...watch that ugly, sexy man Serge play the game... and you will yearn for Paris. You will.

Addendum: IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN A TRIP TO FRANCE ORGANIZED BY MOI, PLEASE LET ME KNOW. References on request. There is some interest in a diplomatic/trade related trip to build connections between Alabamians and our French counterparts. There is also interest in a cultural/off-the-beaten path tour. There is no one better to go with than me.

Kim Thomas, director of the Alliance Française will be teaching a Spring session for Beginners/Travelers. Starting Thursday, March 25, the class will run for seven (7) Thursdays, ending on May 6, 2010. The class time is 5:30-7:00 p.m. and is located at Community Education South in the Crestwood neighborhood. Here is their link with directions and a map

The cost $125- all materials are supplied!

If you would like to register for the class call Kim at 205-985-2062.

An additional advanced convo group takes place on Wednesdays from 5:30-7 p.m. in Homewood. Email Serge at sbokobza@aol.com for additional info!