02 décembre 2017

French Foreign Legion talk with Ray LARGAN

At our meeting of the Cercle Français on 8 November, Ray Largan gave an excellent history of the French Foreign Legion. There were some interesting revelations such as the fact that the soldiers do not swear allegiance to France. This is highly unusual for an army! Interestingly, the soldiers in the French Foreign Legion march at 88 paces per minute while soldiers in other armies march at 120 paces per minute. There are 11 regiments of 7,700 men.

The Legion was initially stationed in Algeria and has been deployed in many conflicts and wars including the Second Italian War of Independence in 1859, the Battle of Camerone in 1863 in Mexico when 62 Legion soldiers were up against 1000 regular Mexican soldiers and 500 cavalry. The French men bravely stood their ground and as a result 41 were killed, 21 were wounded and there were only three survivors. It was interesting and surprising to learn that this battle has been commemorated in both France and Mexico on 30 April every year since. The Mexicans were very gracious to the survivors, even forming a guard of honour for the Legion soldiers! 

The French Foreign Legion was deployed to the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. However, Prussia was victorious and French dominance came to an end in that area. The war also led to the unification of Germany and the loss of Napoleon the Third as leader. France then further expanded into Africa and the Far East and acquired new territory in Southeast Asia. This became known as French Indochina. Ray spoke about the ground battle of Dien Bien Phu which took place in Vietnam in 1954. This battle was disastrous for the Legion and led to the surrender of most of the French forces. Following this, the government resigned and the new government supported French withdrawal from Indo-China. 

Thank you to Ray for the very interesting talk which was enjoyed by all!

Reviewer : Vikki NELSON

02 novembre 2017

Bulletin mensuel novembre 2017

Chers Amis,
The next meeting of the Cercle Français de Belfast will be …
on Mercredi (Wednesday) 8 novembre 2017 à 19h.30 
in Dark Horse Coffee House, 

Topic: The French Foreign Legion
Speaker: Ray LARGAN 
Ray reflects on the origin, key events, both real and imagined, and the ongoing contribution of the Legion and its international recruits. 

Quiz Night … and there's more!
Thanks to all those who came to our table quiz on 25 October. For the picture that seemed to stump everyone, on Louis XV's "petite maîtresse", you may be interested in this article on Marie-Louise O'Murphy: http://www.leparisien.fr/informations/le-tableau-qui-a-enflamme-le-roi-03-01-2015-4415259.php

If you enjoy quizzes, please do support our friends at the Belfast Frenchie Club who are also hosting a quiz on Wednesday 15 November, at 19.30 in the Dark Horse Café. See their Facebook group for more details.

Bal Feirste: Ball
Annette from Bal Feirste has been in touch to remind us that their next Workshop/Bal is on ...

Date: Sunday, 12 November

Venue: Sunflower Club, Union St, Belfast (upstairs)
Dance workshop: 17.00-17.30
Bal: 17.30-19.00

(this is a free event, donations welcome - live music throughout)
Dance workshop - no experience or partner needed. This month the workshop will focus on the Mazurka.

Bal - a time to practise your moves, not just the dances of this month, but others covered to date, guidance will be given where necessary. 

Staying on a musical note …

The William Kennedy Piping Festival (16th - 19th Nov.) in Armagh has an evening devoted to the ..
Sounds and Tastes of France
A musical and gastronomic tour through the French regions 
For more information and to book tickets see: 

Looking forward to seeing you on Wednesday 8th November.

À bientôt, Philip

31 octobre 2017

Le plus grand quiz français de Belfast

CfB Présidente, Allison awards trophies after the quiz. Also pictured is Jim Holland of les perdus
The café-causerie event this month took the form of a quiz night billed as le plus grand quiz français de Belfast. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening which made for plenty of social interaction.
Our présidente Allison Neill-Rabaux was in charge of proceedings and was ably supported by her husband, Sylvain, and by colleague committee member, Drew Miller who managed the scoring process and kept tally on the various team positions.

If anyone had been concerned that their level of French might have been insufficient for the rounds of questions then such doubts were quickly dispelled by the engaging format of the quiz.
Allison and Drew arranged for attendees to form themselves into teams and to give themselves a group name.  We ended up with half a dozen teams and a pad of response sheets was allocated to each. One of the rounds was picture-based and before the quiz got underway discussions about who was in the pictures got team members talking among themselves.

Bringing us to attention, Allison quickly explained the quizzing process.  There would be several rounds of six questions in each. The questions would be announced by Sylvain and be simultaneously displayed on screen. Plenty of time was given for teams to reach agreement on their group response and once recorded the response sheets were passed from one team to the other for checking. Allison returned to each question providing the correct answer on screen.  For a few of these she took the opportunity to explain the response so the quiz was also an opportunity to learn something new. Drew then collected all the scores and compiled them onto a tally sheet. We had rounds among others on Culture, Cuisine, History, Sport and as previously mentioned a picture round with items of Franco-Irish connections.  

It was this last round that threw up an item that stumped the whole room. The picture was that of la petite maîtresse de Louis XV and Allison later was kind enough to share a biography of the woman in question to the Cercle’s Facebook group. If you haven’t yet subscribed connect here.

As the evening progressed it was obvious just how much those present had relaxed into the quiz.  There was a little tension as teams vied with each other for the top places but eventually Drew had calculated the winners, confusingly self-labelled as les perdus.

Allison had thoughtfully provided little trophies to mark the successful outcome. It was a pity that trophies weren’t provided for Allison, Sylvain and Drew for their running if the quiz which was great, good fun and not in the least intimidating. Readers might like to remember that when it next comes round as we’re sure it will. 
When exactly?  Now there’s a question.

18 octobre 2017

Les Ballets russes

There was a full house last Tuesday night for Rachel Tracey's talk on Les Ballets Russes. It was a pleasure to see that I wasn't the only one who had been looking forward to it, and Rachel certainly didn't disappoint. In a very well scripted talk, delivered in a relaxed and engaging style, she took us from the foundation of Les Ballets Russes by Serge Diaghilev through his association with designers, such as Leon Bakst and Coco Chanel, choreographers including Fokine, and dancers like Nijinsky, Anna Pavlova and Tamara Karsavina, all of whom became legends in ballet.
George Balanchine, whose name was later synonymous with the New York City Ballet, began his career with Les Ballets Russes. There were several pictures as illustrations, and we were referred to a unique, and only recently discovered, film of Les Ballets Russes in rehearsal.
The financial perils of running a ballet company were not ignored. Diaghilev had been able to call on friends and family connections for patronage; however that source was not inexhaustible, and financial ruin was never far away. Diaghilev himself lived sparingly in a hotel room; even so, when he died, his friends had to club together to pay his bill.
After Diaghilev's death, Les Ballets Russes had several subsequent incarnations, even at one time as two different companies, run as rivals by Colonel de Basil (The Original Ballets Russes) and René Blum (Les Ballets Russes de Montecarlo). There were, of course, financial constraints, as well as the immense problems of the Second World War. Colonel de Basil's company folded in 1952, and Les Ballets Russes de Montecarlo went bankrupt in 1968.
Although Les Ballets Russes no longer exist, their legacy lives on. Their influence on design, choreography and style was immense, and has had lasting effects on ballet today.
After a short demonstration of barre exercise, Rachel answered questions, and there were many of those, indicating just how much interest there had been in the subject. There were many favourable comments as members left, the best one being “Another triumph!”

Reviewer: Hilary HEADLEY 

Rachel and Hilary pictured after the talk

02 octobre 2017

Bulletin mensuel, octobre 2017

Chers Amis,
The next meeting of the Cercle Français de Belfast will be …
on Mardi (Tuesday) 10 octobre 2017 à 19h.30 
in Dark Horse Coffee House, 

Topic: Les Ballets Russes
Speaker: Rachel Tracey
Rachel Tracey returns to share the story of Les Ballets Russes, the company originally formed by Diaghilev, and its several incarnations following his death. 
She will discuss how the company revolutionised both dance and art, and how its influence continues to this day. Rachel's talk will include a short ballet exercise.


Bal Feirste: Bal

Bal Feirste, the music group featuring both French and local musicians, invite you to their monthly session. As you probably know Bal Feirste have been promoting French music and dance for a number of years.
Their next Workshop/Bal  will take place on 

Date: Sunday, 08 October 2017
Venue: Sunflower Club, Union St, Belfast (upstairs)
Dance workshop: 17.00-17.30
Bal: 17.30 - 19.00 
(this is a free event, donations welcome)

Remember no experience or partner needed.  The Bal is a time to practise your moves and guidance will be given at the start of each dance.

À bientôt, Philip

18 septembre 2017

Culture Night Belfast 2017

Chers Amis,
Culture Night is Belfast's largest, most exciting and inclusive cultural celebration. Now in its ninth year, Culture Night brings together over 300 free events across 150 locations in Belfast City Centre in a single day. The event attracts over 85,000 visitors from Belfast, Northern Ireland and beyond. 
Our friends in Bal Feirste will bring a note of French culture to Belfast's Culture Night with a session in Writer's Square from 9-10pm. Why not come along and join in the fun?

À bientõt, Philip

03 septembre 2017

Bulletin mensuel septembre 2017

Chers Amis,

I thought that you might be interested in the following events with a French connection happening in, or not too far from, Belfast.

Films at QFT.

A big thank you to Hélène for pointing out that the film 'Ce qui nous lie' will be showing at QFT this month. 

Ce qui nous lie 
Back To Burgundy
Fri 8 – Thurs 14 Sept
Dir: Cédric Klapisch • 2017 • France • 1 Hr 53 Mins • Subtitled

The vineyards of Burgundy are the stunning backdrop for this French drama about estranged siblings putting resentments aside to save their family estate.
After leaving the family home and wine business in search of adventure, Jean (Pio Marmaï) returns from a five-year absence when his father falls ill. Reentering a world and lives he left behind, Jean must re-establish a sense of trust with his angered family. Filmed over four seasons and taking full advantage of the alluring scenery, Cédric Klapisch (Chinese Puzzle) brings together emotional family drama, romance and mouth-watering wine into a winning combination.

On looking through the QFT programme I see that 'Bell de jour' is also showing ...

Belle de jour
Fri 8 – Tues 12 Sept 
Dir: Luis Buñuel • France/Italy • 1967 • 1 Hr 41 Mins • Subtitled
Luis Buñel's classic of desire and fantasy celebrates its 50th anniversary with a new 4K digital restoration.

For more information and to see QFT's complete programme for September go to ….

Both Sides

Our friend Jane Coyle has been in touch to let us know that her play “Both Sides”, previously stages at the Dark Horse as part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, is going on tour from 6 to 9 September visiting Old Courthouse in Antrim, Heaney HomePlace, Duncairn Centre on the Antrim Road, Belfast and Down County Museum in Downpatrick.
For more information click on the link below.


French Piping.

Caoimhin Vallely emailed to let us know about a special concert of French piping he is organising in Armagh as part of November's William Kennedy Piping Festival. Musicians from 5 different regions are performing and will also be serving food and drinks from each area. Tickets and more information available from www.wkpf.org. If you would like to know more please don't hesitate in contacting Caoimhin at caoimhinvallely@gmail.com

And of course do not miss our own first event of the season …

Soirée d’accueil et inscriptions suivies par ...
La Francophonie : Worldwide French  Jonathan LYONS
Jonathan explores the network of French organisations around the world and the annual celebration of the French language and culture.

On Wednesday 13th September 2017
In The Dark Horse Coffee House
30- 34 Hill Street, Cathedral Quarter, Belfast BT1 2LB (directions attached) 
At 7.30pm

A bientôt, Philip

08 juillet 2017

Summer events with French connection

Chers Amis,
Information on some events with a French connection taking place over the summer ….

Bastille Day in Belfast

On 14th July 1792 the Belfast Volunteers marched through Belfast accompanied by many citizens and assembled 5,000 strong in the central courtyard of the White Linen Hall where they passed a resolution unanimously supportive of the French Revolution.
To mark the 225th anniversary of this event “Reclaim the Enlightenment” will recall that extraordinary assembly in …
First Presbyterian Church, 
Rosemary Street, Belfast
The programme involves dramatic re-enactment by Paula McFetridge and Vincent Higgins, music and songs from Maurice Leyden and Jane Cassidy, debate and discussion. 
All are welcome and admission is free.
Please see attached press statement.

If you find yourself in Dublin on 14th July the Alliance Française Dublin is organising some special events …

Bastille Day Celebration at La Petite Boulangerie Friday 14 July 8.0am-3pm – 9 Camden Street, Dublin 1 – Admission free
Bastille Day Celebration at The Church
Friday 14 July 4.30pm-3am – 
Mary & Jervis Street, Dublin 1 – Admission free
For Further details see … http://www.alliance-francaise.ie/

Clandeboye Festival 2017

Thanks to Jonathan who brought to my attention the fact that, a little later in the summer (11th – 19th August), Barry Douglas and Camerata Ireland will present 'A Festival of French Music'.

With concerts in the evening as well as at lunchtime and in the afternoon the Festival is set to be a celebration of all things French with a feast of Gallic artists and composers.  Tickets are on sale from the Grand Opera House box office, and will also available on the night on the door.
For more information see …. http://www.camerata-ireland.com/clandeboye/

Have a lovely summer and “Bonne fête