03 décembre 2013

Bulletin mensuel - décembre

Chers Amis,
The next meeting of the Cercle Français de Belfast will be on ….
Mercredi 11 décembre 2013 à 19h.30in The Dark Horse Coffee House
30-34, Hill Street Belfast BT1 2LB

Topic : Choix de poèmes
Speaker : Nos adherents

Following the official business of the 2013 AGM, members spent a while reading some of their favourite poems. Indeed on that evening there were more poems than there was time to read them. Thus it was decided that one of our events this year should be devoted to our members ‘Choix de poèmes’.
Do you have a favourite French poem? Would you like to share it with us? Judging from the AGM we anticipate quite a response so members are asked to
...choose only one poem
...allow for approximately 6-8 mins to introduce and read it - or have it read for you if you prefer and
...please email details of your poem - Title/poet – to me by Saturday 7 Dec.

December seems the perfect time for such an evening and The Dark Horse will add that extra touch.

Fest Deiz
Take a break from shopping and sample the Christmas spirit French style by joining the December Fest Deiz onSaturday 14th Dec.
Amélie and friends form BreizhEire will be back in Madden’s Bar 74 Berry Street, Belfast from 5pm to 8pm with a session of Breton Dancing to set your feet a tapping.

French Films at QFT in December
Fri 29 Nov – Wed 11 Dec
Jeune & Jolie
From director François Ozon (In the House, Potiche), ‘Jeune & Jolie’ follows the journey of 17-year-old Isabelle (played impressively by model turned actress Marine Vacth) as she begins to explore her sexuality. After losing her virginity one summer, Isabelle embarks on a path of prostitution with mostly older men, ostensibly to pay for school, though clearly she is testing the socio-sexual boundaries set by herself and her family circle.
Jeune & Jolie was nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes and is a “nuanced, emotionally temperate study of a precocious youth ” - Hollywood Reporter.
Dir: François Ozon
Cast : Marine Vacth, Géraldine Pailhas, Frédéric Pierrot , Charlotte Rampling
English Subtitles

Sat 7 – Thurs 12 Dec
Blue is the Warmest Colour
Blue Is the Warmest Colour is an exquisite film; an honest and hair-raising study of first love, sex and a maturing relationship, capturing the confusion of teenage sexuality and the intensity of exploring its social taboos. Adele is a sensitive fifteen-year old student. Her days pass like many other until she realises that her sexual desires turn more towards her own gender than the boys who ask her out. After meeting a blue-haired stranger, the confident and assertive Emma, Adele soon finds herself tentatively visiting gay bars and, shortly afterwards, wrapped in the arms of her new lover. Then, her true journey begins.

Dir: Abdellat if Kechiche
Cast : Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos , Salim Kechiouche
English Subtitles

Mon 30 – Tues 31 De
Cinema Paradiso
A charming and heart-warming homage to the cinema, Cinema Paradiso is back on the big screen where it belongs. A real delight. The multi award-winning homage to the love of cinema tells the story of Salvatore, now a successful film director, returning home for the funeral of Alfredo, his old friend who was the projectionist at the local cinema throughout his childhood. Soon memories of his first love affair with the beautiful Elena and all the highs and lows that shaped his life come flooding back, as Salvatore reconnects with the community he left 30 years earlier.
Dir: Giuseppe Tornatore
Cast : Philippe Noiret, Enzo Cannaval e, Anton ella Attili
English Subtitles
While this is an Italian rather than a French film it is one of my all time favourites so I just had to mention it. For full details of all movies showing at QFT in December see www.queensfilmtheatre.com

I hope it is not too early to wish all our members and friends - Joyeux Noёl.
Hope to see you on 11 décembre.

A bientôt, Philip

19 novembre 2013

The story of Grand Marnier

There was a good crowd at the latest event in this year's programme from the Cercle français de Belfast  when "yours truly" gave the talk on Grand Marnier.  As usual the Dark Horse Coffee House in the Cathedral Quarter matched the proceedings perfectly.
I decided that it might be a fun idea to do a kind of Who Do You Think You Are? approach to the subject.  The concept of the popular BBC ancestry programme has made it into French, in Canada at least, where it is known as Qui Êtes-vous?
The first part of the enquiry then looked into the origins of the drink and focussed on Jean-Baptiste LAPOSTOLLE who, in 1827, set up a distillery to make fruit liqueurs in Neauphle-le-Chateau near Paris.  The story moved to his son Eugene who returned from travels with bottles of "burnt wine" - brandewijn - from the Cognac region.  He is said to have offered a taste to his friend Louis-Alexandre MARNIER who hit upon the idea of adding his recipe for bitter orange curaçao to the cognac.  A perfect marriage.
Louis-Alexandre joined forces with the LAPOSTOLLE family business and also married Eugene's daughter Julia Regina.  The alliance of Marnier-Lapostolle is still confirmed by the red seal and ribbon on bottles of Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge as you can see from the above picture.
At the time of the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1889, the drink was still referred to as Curacao Marnier, that was until Louis-Alexandre's friend César RITZ brought his marketing skills to bear.  As someone who could spot a quality product likely to appeal to the rich and famous he prompted Louis-Alexandre to rename it Grand Marnier.  The "grand" prefix went against the trend of the time in referring to things as "petit" - Le Petit Journal, Le Petit Parisien, Le Petit Palais etc.  It caught on, quickly adopted by a well-to-do clientele.  Among these was the then Prince of Wales, Bertie, who went on to become Edward VII and who would have a considerable part to play in the building of the Entente Cordiale.
Our story took a brief aside to look at the career of César RITZ and his colleague Auguste ESCOFFIER.  There followed an appreciation of Crêpe Suzette with different suggestions as to how that dish originated and indeed how it is made.
We later considered how helpful Louis-Alexandre was to Ritz in helping him acquire premises in place Vendome to set up the famous Paris Ritz hotel.
The evening wouldn't have been complete without une dégustation and soupçons of Cordon Rouge were passed round for a sniff or taste.  That provided an opportunity to look at some contemporary marketing of the product including a video on mixing a long drink cocktail.
Members were delighted to see examples of some of the specialist bottles produced by the company and the blue bottle of 2012 depicting the Parisian Skyline was a hit!
One of the members, Sandra, had brought along her bottle - in case it was needed -  and we had a little more fun deciphering the number code on the bottle neck.
The first two digits indicate the year, in our case '13; the next three the day number of the year, so the 15th day of the year is 15 January and the last two digits show the hour in which it was bottled, in our case after 16h.00 and before 17h.00
Try this next time you pick up a bottle. It turns out that Sandra's Grand Marnier was in the bottle at 10h.00 that same day! Older!

Of course, we covered plenty more.  Members talked about how they preferred it as a straight liqueur, no ice or how they used it in cooking.  Some said that they had a bottle at home and knew precisely what they would be doing when they got back after the talk. Do you know we had exactly the same idea?

Were you there?  Anything you would like to add? What liqueur should we talk about next year? Bénédictine perhaps?

More information?
Check out the Grand Marnier website here.   Remember to drink responsibly and with style! Santé!  A la prochaine!

03 novembre 2013

Bulletin mensuel: novembre

Saturday 9th Nov.  Fest Deiz
Amélie and friends from BreizhEire will be back in Madden’s Bar, 74 Berry Street, Belfast from 5pm to 8pm with a session of Breton Dancing to set your feet a tapping.

Wednesday 13th Nov.  Cercle Français de Belfast’s monthly meeting.
You are invited to join Chris Tracey in the beautiful surroundings of the Dark Horse Cafe to discover the fascinating story of Grand Marnier.  We are promised an opportunity to taste or smell un soupçon.  Further details to follow nearer to the date.

Friday 22nd Nov.  French Bal
Following the amazing success of Belfast’s first French Bal in McHugh’s last May (with Philippe Plard), I was delighted to hear that another French Bal is scheduled for the night of Friday November 22nd.  This time the featured artists will be the superb Deux Sans Frontières. Again more details will follow nearer to the event.

If you are aware of any other events with a French flavour taking place in or near Belfast please email me at cfbelfast@gmail.com so that I can let our members and friends know about it.


17 octobre 2013

Marseille-Provence 2013: A tale of two cities

A damp and dark evening in Belfast didn't deter the 30 Francophiles who attended the first talk of the new CFB season. Our conférencier for the evening was Dr Nigel Harkness from Queen's University, Belfast who presented Marseille-Provence 2013 - A tale of two cities. 

Nigel had revisited Marseille over the summer and was able to see at first hand the changes that had taken place in France's second largest city as it had prepared itself to carry out its role as Capitale Européenne de la Culture. Beginning with a short historical background to the city, Nigel stressed that the designation took in other places in the Provence region.  This sharing was most noticeable in the exposition à deux volets that had concluded only a few days earlier at Le Grand Atelier du Midi.  This exhibition in two parts assembled paintings from artists who had lived and worked in the area. Marseille's Musée des Beaux-Arts was the venue for works from Van Gogh to Bonnard while those from Cézanne to Matisse were exhibited in Aix-en-Provence. This exhibition, while it may not have reached the anticipated visitor numbers, clearly impressed our speaker who urged us to go online and snap up a copy of the exhibition catalogue
A good part of Nigel's talk dealt with the architecture of the new buildings that had been constructed since Marseille won its bid to be European Capital of Culture in 2008. One building in particular stood out. This was MuCEM - the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations. In an interesting sequence of slides Nigel revealed a structure covered in a veil of lace-like concrete. As visitors make their way around this structure they can see outside.  It turns out that this building is quite a hit with locals and visitors to the region alike.
The talk was subtitled, a tale of two cities and Nigel reflected on some of the darker aspects of contemporary Marseille. Referring to recent newspaper and magazine articles he had found few instances where the positive side had been highlighted without a negative being 

Members were pleased to get a booklet on MP2013 that had been produced and kindly supplied by the Alliance Française de Londres - Un très grand merci!
Some copies remain so if you would like to have one let's know.  You can also read the text on the AF's website here.
Our evening visit to the sunnier and warmer climate of Marseille-Provence concluded with a question and answer session which I imagine could have continued for quite a while given the interest shown. Still, there is room for comment below so feel free to share!
Finally, one last big thank you to Nigel for getting our season off to such an excellent start. 

01 octobre 2013

Bulletin mensuel - Octobre

Mercredi 16 octobre 2013
à 19h.30
in Dark Horse Coffee House,
30-34, Hill Street Belfast BT1 2LB

Topic   Marseille-Provence: European Capital of Culture 2013
Speaker:  Nigel Harkness

look at the changing face of Marseille along with some of the events chosen to celebrate its recognition as the European Capital of Culture.  Been to Marseille this year?  Any photos that others might like to see?

French films at QFT

French films at QFT this month come not from France but from Switzerland courtesy of ‘Focus on Swiss Film’, part of the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s.  Two of the three films featured are in French – at least as far as I could tell from a quick look at their bande annonce.

La petite chambre
(The Little Room)
Mon 21 Oct, 6.30pm
Dir: Stéphanie Chuat& Véronique Reymond
Cast: Michel Bouquet, Florence Loiret Caille
 2010 • 1 Hr 27 Mins
English Subtitles

Fiercely independent, Edmond fights against the very idea of entering a retirement home, whilst at the same time refusing help from Rose, his carer. An accident, however, forces Edmond to accept Rose’s support.

Hiver nomade
(Winter Nomads)
Tues 22 Oct, 6.30pm
Dir: Manuel Von Stürler
2012 • 1 Hr 30 Mins
English Subtitles

Carole and Pascal leave for their winter migration with three donkeys, four dogs and a flock of sheep: three months of braving cold and snow. At night, a tarpaulin and sheepskins are their only shelter. A contemporary adventure film that takes us back to our roots and poses questions about today’s society.

The third film in the series ‘Jump’ is in Italian and also looks interesting. For further details of it and all the films in QFT’S programme see …..
And for full details of the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s see …..

French Dancing

Sadly there will be no Fest Deiz session this month but I’m happy to tell you that Amélie and friends will be back on the second Saturday of next month (9th Nov.).  I’ve also just heard that, following the great success of their first Belfast Bal with Philippe Plard last May and the Fête de la musique in June, Bal Feirste will be organising another Bal in the basement of McHughs in Belfast on Friday 22nd November.  The star performers this time will be the superb group "Deux Sans Frontières".  More information on both events in next months email.

A bientôt,  Philip

18 septembre 2013

CFB Opening Night

Thanks to all who attended the opening night of the CFB's 2013-14 season.
We hope you like the upcoming programme and enjoyed the music, the dancing and the chat. Do please let us know.  Did you take any pictures? Any you would like to share?

Extra! events
There was quite a lot of French spoken tonight, and the Extra! events we are planning will feature much more.  We'll be supplying details on the first of these shortly and wondered whether it would be useful to provide some advance language information likely to be covered in the topic.  What do you think? What would help?

Remember Culture Night is this Friday, 20 September.

05 septembre 2013

Cercle Français de Belfast: 2013-14 programme: Treat for the senses!

Welcome to the new season! Click on the tab above and you will find details of this year's programme. We hope you agree that it is a treat for the senses and that you will make it to as many events as possible.
We had a very successful programme last year with record attendances and we are aiming for even more success this year. It would be great to see guest numbers translating to membership numbers so if, regularly, you bring guests to meetings consider asking them to become members in their own right.
At the AGM members discussed the types and subscription rates for membership. It was decided that there would be no change to Individual and Joint rates and that student membership should be amended to make a distinction between those in full-time and continuing education. The subscription rates for 2013-14 are shown on the renewal form available for printing at the Rejoignez-nous tab.
We intend to offer Extra! events and details of these will be posted in our bulletin mensuel, which will also include a reminder of each event in our main programme along with information about others relating to France or French that we think might interest you.
Remember to click back here often for news and reviews of our events. You can also find information regarding the programmes of our and other Cercles Français, supported by the Alliance Française de Londres at http://cercles.alliancefrancaise.org.uk/index.htm
Be sure to get good value from your subscription by attending as many events as possible and encouraging your guests to become members. You know it makes sense!
CFB committee

CFB New Season: Opening event

Mercredi 18 septembre 2013 à 19h.30, Dark Horse Coffee House, 30-34, Hill Street Belfast BT1 2LB
Joyeuse ouverture, musique et présentation du programme
Welcome to the new season! In addition to highlighting the programme, members will be invited to let us know the what and why of their favourite French song. An opportunity to listen and share!

Bulletin mensuel - AOUT

Are you thinking of learning French over the winter? Then, no matter what your level, there are plenty of opportunities to do so in Belfast.

Stranmillis College Belfast:

French Conversation for Intermediates
Session: Tuesday, 12 weeks
Time: 7.30pm – 9.00pm
Dates: 17th September – 10th December
Cost: £55.00 (concession £45.00)

Note: The very popular French Conversation for Upper Intermediates is now fully subscribed.
For details of the full programme of Lifelong Learning at Stranmillis see …

Enrolment form can be found at …..
Or Telephone: 028 9038 4345

Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast

Beginners (LEVEL 1): Thursdays 6-7.30pm - 12 weeks starting 19th September
Lower Intermediate (LEVEL 2): Wednesdays 7-8.30pm - 12 weeks starting 18th September
Intermediate (LEVEL 3): Wednesdays 5.30-7pm - 12 weeks starting 18th September
Upper Intermediate (LEVEL 4): Thursdays 8-9.30pm - 12 weeks starting 19th September
Advanced (LEVEL 5): Wednesdays 4-5.30pm - 12 weeks starting 18th September
For further details or to enrol see ….

or telephone (028) 9024 2338 

Queens University Belfast

Each year Open Learning at Queens University offers classes in French at different levels (Beginners Level, Intermediate level and Advanced level). The classes are for those who wish to learn for business reasons or for going on holiday. All language skills (speaking, listening, reading, writing, grammar and vocabulary building) are practised, with an emphasis on oral communication.
For further details see …

Belfast Metropolitan College

There is a wide range of French courses on offer at Belfast Metropolitan College including ….

For further details see the college’s part-time prospectus at …
or telephone 028 9026 5000

07 février 2013

A herbal and Herbier de Bretagne

Poetry at the Cercle last night. A reading from Seamus Heaney's A Herbal along with Eugene de Guillevic's Herbier de Bretagne.

09 janvier 2013

Fête des rois à Dark Horse

Anthea and Seamus, crowned queen and king at the Cercle Français de Belfast's annual fête des rois.

The evening, which had attracted a full house was animated very professionally by Vanessa Franchetti and her accomplished team of dancers and musicians.
Her team also provided the home-baked galettes shared among participants and helped down with either a glass of wine or cider.
The event included dance demonstrations including an impromptu Can Can from the recently crowned Anthea and Seamus.  Here is a short video of a set piece performed by four dancers.  The video was  taken by Michael and gives some of the atmosphere of the evening.

Thanks Michael, and everyone else who came along.

01 janvier 2013

Chers Amis,


Meilleurs vœux pour 2013.

Oui, c’est une nouvelle année and what better way to start the New Year than with the Cercle Français de Belfast’s celebration of La Fête des Rois on …. 

Mercredi 9 janvier 2013 à 19h30

in The Dark Horse Coffee House

30-34, Hill Street Belfast BT1 2LB

Yes and this year again thanks to Vanessa Franchetti and her troupe for animating this popular event to celebrate La Fête des Rois.  There will be galettes and wine and as with all good parties you are very welcome to give us your ‘party piece’- perhaps a poem or a song in either French or English. So don’t miss ….

La Fête des Rois et Bal Musette                                                            

While this event is free to members we do ask for a small contribution of £5 from non-members.  In order to help us judge numbers could you perhaps email to me the total number you expect in your party?


Les Mis

On 11th January the film of the musical ‘Les Misérables’ will open in a cinema near you. Okay, it’s not a patch on Hugo’s masterpiece nevertheless it does capture much of the spirit of his novel.  The French connection is truly there as the music is by Claude-Michel Schönberg and the original French lyrics were written by Alain Boublil.


Fest Diez

A new series of monthly session of Breton Dancing begin …

on Saturday 12th January 2013

in Madden’s Bar, 74 Berry Street, Belfast

from 5pm to 8pm

As always the music will be provided by French and Irish musicians and Amélie will be there to guide you through the steps.
For more information on Breton cultural events in Ireland see the BreizhEire website



Looking forward to seeing you on 9th January.  Bonne Année, Philip