Cercle de lecture : Bonjour Tristesse

 Chers Amis,

A little reminder that the book to read for our next event, our Cercle de lecture, on 14 octobre is ..

Françoise SAGAN’s Bonjour Tristesse.

French edition … available from sellers such as Amazon.co.uk and AbeBooks.co.uk

English edition … available on ebay.co.uk and from other sources.

A DVD of the film of the book “Bonjour Tristesse” staring Jean Seeberg, David Niven and Deborah Kerr is also widely available online.

Further information will follow later.

Prenez soin de vous et de vos proches,

À bientôt, Philip





24 hours in Saint-Émilion


The plan to spend a night in the medieval town of Saint-Émilion was uncorked some years back. Nearly two decades ago we had been in the town and purchased a special bottle from the 1981 vintage of Château Franc-Pourret to commemorate our wedding year.

The idea, still not realised, was to crack it open at a special anniversary. It was on checking its current status for drinkability that we noted that the Château offered the opportunity to stay in the heart of the vignoble in highly rated chambre d'hôte accommodation. 


The plan developed its aroma when last September, we arranged to spend a few weeks in France starting in Bordeaux before moving in stages up to Paris.

What about the Château? Did available dates match? Could we dine there?
And importantly would we be able to bring the bottle back to its birthplace?

Contact with Madame OUZOULIAS, Catherine, was simplicity itself.  Demand was always high and yes, she had a room available for one night only – a Sunday; she offered a sumptuous breakfast but no evening meals; and while she liked the idea, she counselled against coming with the bottle of wine thinking that perhaps we had missed its apogée and might enjoy it better at home where it was already well rested! The date matched, no deposit was required and of course we booked!


Trains from Bordeaux to Saint-Émilion are fairly frequent and it's a short journey but last summer there were major works underway at our destination, so we got out at Libourne and made the rest of the journey by coach. The station at 1,5 km is some distance out of the town, a good 20-minute walk, although you can phone a taxi or tuk-tuk service. Catherine, however, had arranged to collect us at the station and bring us to the estate.

Château Franc-Pourret was an elegant delight and we felt instantly at home. There waiting for us were a couple of half bottles of the property’s wines and one of them was a little relative of the bottle back home! We would toast our arrival later that evening but meantime there was some exploring to be done.

Catherine suggested that we make our way into the town by strolling through the vines. Our route brought us out near the imposing Tour du Roy and from there we made our way to the unforgettable 12th century Église Monolithe commanding its lovely paved square. 


The association with Émilion started a little earlier though when in the 8th century he left his native Brittany, became a monk and ended in Ascumbas, the ancient and former name of the area. There he lived in a cave and joined by others formed a religious community. After his death in 787, a village was built in his honour and 12 centuries later the town of Saint-Émilion, its vineyards and religious sites have become a UNESCO World Heritage site. 


We had been in this square often before and thought we would savour the memories over a glass of pastis. After all, it was a hot afternoon. Suitably refreshed, we decided we should find somewhere for an evening meal before heading back to Franc-Pourret. Although many restaurants were closed there was plenty of choice and we opted for Chai Pascal.  Calling in, the patronne advised that they wouldn't be serving until 7pm and suggested we book a table. Done. That gave us an hour or more, so still plenty of time to sightsee.

On our rambles, and not far from the Place de L'Église Monolithe we spotted a sign for a wine merchant - The Wine Buff Experience with Paddy O’Flynn.



While we were looking at the sign a smiling woman, Pilar, asked us if we were Irish and invited us in to meet Paddy. We were treated to a tour of the tasting room, which seemed like a monolith itself carved out of limestone. It was wonderfully cool.

A taste of Saint-Émilion? Of course. And then a lovely chat with Paddy and Pilar about wines from the region. We arranged to call back the next day and avail of their ordering service.

The meal at Chai Pascal was delicious and we could have sat on, but we had decided to walk it back and night was falling. Not through vineyards at this hour but along the road, using the light from our mobiles to alert passing motorists of our presence. What a lovely feeling to be in wine country at night-time. Yes, that half bottle of Franc-Pourret was waiting. 


Breakfast next morning was a treat, living up to its reputation. A bowl of greengage - reine-claude plums - baked in a crust, an array of cereals, juices, fruits, croissants, homemade jams, organic yoghurt and coffee. Magnificent.

Our bus connection for the train back to Bordeaux was not until 5pm so we still had a day in Saint-Émilion. Catherine suggested we look around the estate and when our bags were packed, she would store them in her car in the shade. Then later she would come to collect us in town and take us back to the station. We readily agreed and picked as our rendezvous point the car park at the Collegiate Church. This time the stroll through the vines took a different route. Passing château after château it was like walking through a wine list and we arrived directly at our appointed rendezvous spot. Time to appreciate this lovely church and its cloister and learn a little more about Émilion. Quiet. 

Then out again to the town now busy with newly arrived day trippers all making their way to the square. We spotted a shop selling macarons. 



This gourmet tradition dates back to the late 1600s when the sisters of the town’s Ursuline convent confected the recipe from sweet and bitter almonds, sugar and egg whites. We bought some boxes to offer as gifts.

Another walk around the town, stopping at various points and just soaking it all in. The town has been modernised much over the years and grand hotels now bring a more international style to the spaces they occupy. Still, that medieval heart beats strong.

A light lunch? Why not? Une omelette complète filled with cheese, ham and mushroom, aided and abetted with crusty bread and helped on its way with a glass of rosé chilled to perfection.

Back to the Wine Buff, sample some wines and place an order. That's a whole other story but suffice to say that momentous events in our household are accompanied by a bottle taken from the stock ordered that day. And we are still in touch with Paddy and Pilar through social media.

Where had the day gone? Time to move and await our pickup with Catherine. We went back to the Collegiate Church where we had agreed to meet. She arrived spot on time and took us back to the station. She seemed pleased with the box of macarons as we offered our thanks and goodbyes. We would think of her often and Château Franc-Pourret will be an abiding memory.

And there is of course that bottle that remains from 1981 to be opened… sometime.

We also brought home a couple of its half-sized relations. No longer a Saint-Émilion alone in its cave.

It's got plenty of company!


Chris TRACEY



More information











Programme d'activités 2020-21

Chères amies, Chers amis,

I hope you and your loved ones are keeping safe and well in these uncertain times. Many of us are enjoying the chance to finally be reunited with friends, as life returns to some sort of normality. The Cercle français de Belfast is delighted to be reopening its doors – albeit virtually – to bring you a new programme year with no fewer than fifteen talks and interactive events.

We’ll resume our physical meetings as soon as we’re sure it’s completely safe to do so. Until then, our talks and events will be held online, meaning you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your own home. All you need is the Internet, along with a computer, smartphone or tablet. This programme contains further information on how to participate in our meetings. If you’re still unsure about how to get connected, we’ll be only too happy to help.

I’m sure you’ll agree that this year’s programme has something for anyone who has an interest in French language and culture. Join us to hear and talk about French history, literature, culture, music, food, current affairs and much, much more. Keep an eye out for extra events we’ll be adding throughout the year, as well as details of our Extraordinary General Meeting.

On 9 September 2020, you’re warmly invited to Large soif, our online soirée d’accueil. This first event of the year is always free and open to all. Pour yourself a glass of your favourite tipple, chat with friends old and new, and find out more about the Cercle français de Belfast. I can’t wait to see you there!

Don’t forget to sign up for our monthly update and to follow us on social media. In the meantime, and on behalf of all the Cercle français de Belfast Committee members, I’d like to thank you for your continued support and friendship.

Amitiés,

Allison

Présidente, Cercle français de Belfast

Quelles nouvelles ? juillet 2020

Dear all,
I do hope all's still well.
If anyone might be interested in what the Champs-Elysées was looking like yesterday...


This is the open-air terrace of the brasserie L'Alsace. I'm with a Canadian friend, Jill.
(Most of the year she lives in London but has a little flat in Paris too. She managed to escape!)

The semi-tropical plant enclosure is for people who didn't get away on a foreign holiday to
take photos of themselves inside (as if they're in an exotic location)!

You'll note the automatic hand sanitizer dispenser outside the 'tropical enclosure'...



Something extra...


The note, pinned to our building's front door, invites us to rent out our apartment to a film production company. There always seem to be films being made in and around Paris.

I applied to be an 'extra' once in a production by Les Frères Dardenne; the directors
changed the filming dates, and it fell through.

Very best,
John


John was one of the founder members of the original Alliance Française de Belfast, now the Cercle français. Although living and working in Paris he keeps in close touch with the cercle and we are delighted to hear his news and updates on life in France. 








La Fête Nationale 2020

Chers Amis,

How will you celebrate le quatorze juillet this year?

One way could be to join us in an online celebration.

The idea is simple. With the nasty Covid-19 virus being around many of us have been unable to visit France this year. We would like you to share three things with us …

1 What you are missing most about France.

2 What you are most looking forward to doing when next you can travel there.

3 What piece of music most reminds you of France.

The plan is that your thoughts and choice of music will be combined into a short programme to be broadcast on the Cercle Français de Belfast's YouTube channel on14th July. A sort of 'Desert Island Discs' if you like as we gently recover from isolation.

Please send your 'requests' by Friday 10th July either ...

… by email to cfbelfast@gmail.com in which case your words (in English or French) will be read for you before playing your choice of music.

Or

You might like to make a short audio/video recording and send it using WeTransfer (https://wetransfer.com/to cfbelfast@gmail.com. Your recording and choice of music will be included in the programme.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Prenez soin de vous et de vos proches,

À bientôt,

Philip


Hexagonal discs

What music from L'Hexagone are you listening to these days? Maybe you're not listening on record or cd and prefer to stream your music.  Is it one of the classics or something more modern? 

Please let us know! You can post your comments below.

Quelles nouvelles ? juin 2020




Dear All,

Some more for you...

President Macron has just announced on TV that all of mainland France and Corsica is now fully open from tomorrow on - all restaurants, cafés, etc.!

School will be compulsory for all from mid-June.

Flights between EU countries will likewise begin again. Flights to and from non-EU countries, so long as these latter are "safe", will recommence on 1st July.

France has joined with three other EU countries to buy several billion doses of an anti-Covid vaccine in development from Astra-Zeneca.

Photos taken yesterday in my local supermarket and the street.



Bises amicales à vous tous,

John Crothers



John was one of the founder members of the original Alliance Française de Belfast, now the Cercle français. Although living and working in Paris he keeps in close touch with the cercle and we are delighted to hear his news and updates on life in France. 


Quelles nouvelles ? mai 2020 Venturing out


Quelles nouvelles ?

In this occasional note from Paris where he lives, Cercle member John Crothers has been in touch to share some observations about his first métro journey in over two months in the City of Lights.  





thought the idea of "fashion masks" would take hold - here it is in evidence today, in a boutique window in St-Germain-des-Prés!





My first time to venture out into central Paris by métro for over two months - everyone respecting seat instructions; very few people on platforms when I travelled at 12 noon; everyone wearing masks - of varying types; finally, a maximum of four people or so in each carriage. 

At Montparnasse, all the RATP staff were wearing visors as well as face masks!
I have a feeling that this is far better than what's happening in the Tube in London... 


My hairdresser strongly agreed with me the other day when I said, "French people like to think of themselves as undisciplined - it's almost a point of honour to proclaim yourself 'Mediterranean'. 
But, when it comes to the bit, they're extremely well disciplined, in fact!"


Take care of yourselves,
John


John was one of the founder members of the original Alliance Française de Belfast, now the Cercle français. Although living and working in Paris he keeps in close touch with the cercle and we are delighted to hear his news and updates on life in France. 

Bulletin mensuel : mai 2020

I hope that you are keeping well. These difficult times have affected us all in different ways but one thing we share is the tremendous debt we owe to the brave men and women on the front line who help keep us safe.
This month's bulletin is longer than usual with news of a new departure for the Cercle and lots of ideas for keeping in touch with France and all things French.
Votre cercle virtuel
Next week we will be launching our first ever virtual talk online. Watch out for an email arriving in your mailbox on Monday next (4th May) giving full information.

---------------------------------

French-linked websites


Today some committee members share a few of their favourite French-linked websites they have enjoyed over the last month.

Elaine recommends
MyFrenchFilm Festival
Happily the festival has just announced an extension of its StayAtHome edition to 25 May. As well as continued access to shorts the extension now includes selected feature films.
One of the shorts is a great animation 'Kiki of Montparnasse'.

Jonathan enjoys reading and recommends:
Lire en ligne (Read online) is a phenomenal resource that can be utilised to read on your tablet / computer les œuvres of the most famous French authors, playwrights, philosophers and poets including Balzac, Dumas, Hugo, Maupassant, Pascal, Rimbaud and Rousseau to name but a few. Also included are the works of Andersen, Darwin, Kipling, Nietzsche, Shakespeare, Twain and Wilde and many more - all in French!
Suffering from eye strain? Then just switch on the bluetooth speaker that sits on your mantelpiece / windowsill and listen to their selected works - all in the beauty of the French-spoken word.
Cost: FREE

Take Google's virtual tours of nearly all your favourite French museums to see the works of the painters and sculptors who influenced the world. The list is endless - simply type your request in the search bar.
Cost: FREE

Jonathan also reminds you of our own online presence at ...
Cercle français de Belfast's eponymous blog for French-linked happenings in Belfast
Cost: FREE

And pick up on what's happening in the French-themed world via our very own twitter feed 
Cost: FREE


Henry has produced a Playlist just for us and posted it on both Spotify and Deezer. He writes ...
Here is a playlist of well known French songs for the month of May. It is to get you into the gallic mood of a holiday in France and as you listen you can pretend you are listening to the radio as you speed down the Autoroute du Soleil towards Provence. 
We have given you the links for both Spotify and its French equivalent Deezer which is currently free to download. 

One feature of Deezer not found on Spotify and helpful to those of us still learning French is the little microphone beside the song on the playlist. Click on this and the lyrics come up on your screen rolling with the words sung. This is helpful when trying to make out that lyric and a painless way of improving your French. 

Deezer is different to Spotify in that it has a more French feel to its music choices , and podcasts. 
I personally find the searches on Deezer more " clunky" and less intuitive than Spotify but that may be because we all know and understand better the systems we use most.
This may be a virtue in that it sends you sometimes to somewhere exciting and new, where you can find new music which turns it all into an adventure.

Try both and compare. In order to play you will need to download one or other of the systems to your phone, tablet or computer. If you sign up for the three month free trial of Deezer premium and then shortly after cancel your subscription you still get the free three months. Deezer is also better for learning French with short bite-sized topical lessons again for free.
Happy listening.




CHRIS recommends this couple of sites:
Culturethèque

This is a very powerful site, developed by AF and the Institut Français and there is plenty there for hour upon hour of browsing. I've used it before and although it is usually a subscription service it is being offered free just now.  Still need to register but that takes only a few minutes and access is immediate. Navigation with a choice of French or English is very easy. Great material to choose from.

Institut national de l'audiovisuel
This is a great source of audiovisual material. If you have a favourite French personality, actor, poet, singer, writer for example then a simple search of the INA archive is a fruitful source of video and audio recordings. The premium streaming service, Ina Madelen, is only 3€ a month and at present the first 3 months is free. I have already signed up for that. You need to register your card details but you can cancel anytime. As its publicité states : Vous allez voir, madelen va vous surprendre


Member Kevin O'Neill has been in touch to suggest some information on Alsace. 
His own anticipated holiday there this summer has been postponed but he has shared this short video of Le Château du Hohlandsbourg a place that he would like to have visited:

As for myself I have enjoyed exploring Alliance Française Dublin's 'Cultural Activities Online' page at …

The following sections are free ...

Virtual Tours of French Museums, French Concerts and Shows on Youtube
Visit French Landmarks with Google, Explore Science in French
Cooking with a French twist and Short Films in French

So why not ... visit the Musée d'Orsay; see Serge Gainsbourg in concert; stroll Mont Saint-Michel; stand Sur les épaules de Darwin; check out a recipe for Tarte tatin or watch a Trip to the Moon?

Now, for your good selves ...
Have you discovered interesting French-linked websites? We would love to hear about them. If you email links to cfbelfast@gmail.com we could included them in future emails.
Prenez soin de vous et de vos proches,
À bientôt, Philip

Bulletin mensuel : avril 2020

Chers Amis,
Tout d’abord, j’espère que vous vous portez bien et que, malgré l’inquiétude, vous arrivez à profiter de quelques beaux moments en famille ou entre amis, que cela soit en vrai ou en virtuel. Pour rester connecter à la langue et à la culture françaises pendant le confinement, j’ai le grand plaisir de vous présenter, grâce à Philip, cette newsletter spéciale ciné, avec focus sur Jean Seberg.
A très bientôt pour notre prochaine newsletter. En attendant, prenez soin de vous.
Bonne lecture et bon ciné !
Allison

Dear friends,
First of all, I hope that you are well and that, despite concerns, you are managing to enjoy some beautiful time, whether real or virtual, with family or friends. To stay connected to the French language and culture during the 'lockdown', I have the great pleasure of presenting to you, thanks to Philip, this special cinema newsletter, with a focus on Jean Seberg.
Watch out for our next newsletter. In the meantime, take care of yourself.
Enjoy reading and good movies!
Allison

Discovered recently on YouTube …. “Saint Joan”, Otto Preminger's 1957 film of George Bernard Shaw's 1923 play. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnyeH8OE3co
Bernard Shaw's words and the fragile on-screen presence of Jean Seberg, who could resist it?

Jean Seberg was the young American actor who became a darling of the French New Wave, learned to speak French, lived and tragically, in 1979, died in Paris. Below are some links you might like to explore ...

Jean Seberg Interview (1960, French with English subtitles)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssyyBP0LB7I

Cheapened and neutralized: why the FBI destroyed actress Jean Seberg’s life. (English) 
https://medium.com/lessons-from-history/cheapened-and-neutralized-why-the-fbi-destroyed-actress-jean-sebergs-life-4097d87e8195

Jean Seberg, actrice américaine vivant en France, ses derniers jours jusqu'au 30 août 1979
(French)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S99NxCIM654
Moving away from Jean Seberg here are some other links to help you keep in touch with France and things French ….

For everything you need to know about French feature films: news, international releases, box office, festival attendance, …
https://www.unifrance.org/film/espace-longs-metrages

FRANCE 24 English – LIVE – International Breaking News & Top stories - 24/7 stream

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6N0lbZr_wXs

Bonjour Paris (Online magazine with lots of interesting articles on life in Paris)
https://bonjourparis.com/


Movies from QFT ...

MUBI (Subscription. Intro. Offer 3 months for £1)
Léon Morin, Priest 
https://mubi.com/films/leon-morin-priest?_m_utk=b47e8578ce0b756bbd23adecb59d00f3


Prenez soin de vous et de vos proches,

À bientôt, Philip


Cercle events postponed

Chers amis,
In light of the current circumstances, I am aware that many of you may be concerned about Coronavirus (COVID-19). Along with my fellow committee members, I would like to reassure you all that your health and wellbeing, and that of your families, is important to us.
Therefore we have decided to postpone all Cercle français de Belfast events between 18th March and the end of June, with a view to to resuming in September. This includes our regular meetings, Sunday ciné club and annual dinner. As the situation is constantly evolving, this timeline may change as we continue to monitor government recommendations. We will keep you updated. 
We had a great few months of events lined up and regret that they cannot take place as planned – we look forward to offering them as part of next year’s programme. We are also looking at various online options to stay connected with you for the rest of this programme year.
I will be in touch again soon. 
Prenez soin de vous et de vos proches,

Allison


Allison Neill-Rabaux
Présidente

Président extraordinaire


Bulletin mensuel : mars 2020

Chers Amis,
The next meeting of the Cercle Français de Belfast will be on…
Mercredi 18 mars à 19h.30 
in The New Orpheus, Hill Street, Belfast

Topic: President extraordinaire de La France
Speakers: Douglas McCULLOCH

Douglas along with various collaborateurs presents the story of Patrice de McMahon 1808 – 1893, un soldat extraordinaire et un des maçons de la democratie française.

Directions: Please note the change of venue.
Instead of our usual venue this talk will take place, close to The Dark Horse, in The New Orpheus. Access is via the stairs at the entrance to The Harp Bar or using the lift at the other end of The Harp Bar.


Cercle Cine Club

takes place on Sunday 29 March at 3:00p.m. in the Sunflower Bar, Belfast


French Bal
Bal Feirste, the music group featuring both French and local musicians, invite you to their monthly dance session on ...
Saturday 14th March 2020
Venue: Sunflower Club, Union St, Belfast (upstairs)
Dance workshop: 16.00-16.30 
Bal: 16.30 - 18.00 
(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.
Looking forward to seeing you on Wednesday 18th March
À bientôt, Philip