20 décembre 2021

Joyeuses Fêtes


Le comité du Cercle français de Belfast vous souhaite de joyeuses fêtes !


29 octobre 2021

Cercle de Lecture novembre 2021

Chers Amis,

The book to read for our Cercle de lecture on Wednesday 17th November is “Le Petit Homme d'Arkhangelsk” / “The Little Man from Archangel” by Georges Simenon.

Why not visit your favourite book store (real or online) today and get your copy so you can join in the discussion on the evening.

À bientôt, Philip

19 octobre 2021

France and Vietnam: From Indochina to Independence

Vikki Nelson returned to our talks programme on Wednesday 13 October for her presentation on France and Vietnam. She had used a sub-heading for her talk entitled from Indochina to Independence and that's where she first focussed our attention highlighting the geographical and historical contexts of the region. Indochina, she explained, comprised three areas of Vietnam, (Tonkin in the North, Annam in the Centre and Cochinchina in the South) along with Cambodia and Laos with the leased Chinese territory of Guangchuwan added in 1898.

She explained the reasons for France's involvement in the region which had to do with religious persecution, rivalry with an expanding British Empire and access to the Chinese market. She went to chart France's colonial efforts and spoke of the economic and social impacts of those imperial interventions making Indochina France's second most invested in colony. Saigon, she told us, was the sixth busiest port in the French Empire and settlers from France built Beaux-Arts buildings and other landmarks such as the Hanoi Opera House and Saigon's Notre Dame basilica.

She guided us through France's turbulent relationship with its colony through the Second World War period and beyond discussing in particular the First Indochina War and the Geneva Conference of April-July 1954 which led to French forces finally leaving the region in October of that year.  The hopes of the convention were not fulfilled and matters led to the Second Indochina War, more commonly known as the Vietnam war.

In a shorter segment of her talk she referred to the American involvement which would culminate in January 1973, nearly twenty years later, with the signing of the Paris Peace Accords.

Vikki packed much information into her exposé and members expressed their appreciation twice as perhaps because we were so attentive to the content that most had forgotten to unmute their Zoom microphones that we had to repeat the applause!

So once again thanks to Vikki for coming back to speak to us and we look forward to your next visit.

Un très grand merci !

29 septembre 2021

Présentation du vin Touraine : Noble Joué

Touraine Rosé shared on screen

It was la rentrée and the first talk in the new season's cercle en virtuel et sur place.  Our new présidente, Patricia HARDIMAN was pleased to launch the latest programme and officially welcomed Bridgene and Philippe ARNAUD for their presentation of the Touraine wine, Noble Joué.

Cushendall-born Bridgene explained that she and her husband, Philippe, now divide their time between his native Touraine and Ballycastle spending several months of the year in each location.  They provide French tutorials and it was through friendship connections with a member of the local U3A, University of the Third Age, that the idea for this talk originated.

The couple then engaged in a two-hander exposé - Philippe commenting his slides in French and Bridgene paralleling his inputs in English. In this way they took us on a virtual visit to the Domaine des Frères ROUSSEAU and their Touraine wine Noble Joué. The domaine is in the townland of Eavres in the Loire Valley, close to the French home of les ARNAUD.

The ROUSSEAU vineyard has been in the family for four generations and its current custodians are brothers Bernard and Michel, Catherine, Michel's wife and their daughter Lucille who will eventually take over the business -  A further generation.

Through a mix of slides and video clips members were escorted through the various stages of wine production including pruning les sarments and the interesting practice of lighting candles in the vineyard to protect the dormant plants in periods of severe frost - a tried, tested and trusted process.

A further series of slides and commentary took us through other steps in the wine-making journey: harvesting, pressing, fermenting, labelling, bottling, packing and shipping.

Several of our participants had responded enthusiastically to our request to join in a pot de l'amitié for our first evening by having to hand a bottle of Touraine wine. In a fun moment they showed a variety of bottles obtained locally (the rosé shown in the picture above was chosen by Jonathan) so that when Philippe produced a bottle of vin vieux to demonstrate the opening technique we were all ready to raise our own glasses in accompaniment, with moderation of course!

Santé !  Et un très grand merci à Bridgene et Philippe pour une très belle soirée.

13 septembre 2021

Bienvenue ! Le Cercle en virtuel et sur place

Welcome from our new Présidente, Patricia HARDIMAN

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Dear friends,
It is with great joy that I welcome you, in my new role as Présidente du Cercle français de Belfast, to another year of cultural events.

Last year, the Cercle managed to weather the storm of the pandemic by providing a great variety of online presentations.  Once again, we are taking up the challenge of offering you another varied programme based on French culture and language.  As the year looks uncertain again, the Cercle committee has decided to offer its events through a hybrid or "blended learning" format.  This means that talks will either be online, in person or perhaps both allowing us to take account of any health restrictions applying to The Dark Horse venue.  We will get there as soon as we can!  This greater flexibility will also help us to keep in touch with all our new members who live in the four corners of Northern Ireland and who have discovered us through the virtual meetings.

We will be launching our new programme with an online event, a Pôt de l'amitié over a Touraine wine experience.  We are also planning some additional events so be sure that you are subscribed to our monthly email newsletter and remember to follow us on social media.  In the meantime, and on behalf of all the Cercle français de Belfast committee, I'd like to thank you for your continued support and friendship.

Click on the page tab above for full details of our programme.

Happy reading!

Patricia HARDIMAN, Présidente

09 septembre 2021

First event of 2021 - 2022 season

Chers Amis,

Welcome to the start of a new season of events with the Cercle français de Belfast. To see what we have planned for you check out our Programme for 2021 -2022 by clicking on the tab above.

Our first meeting will take place on ….

mercredi 22 septembre 2021 à 19h30 online as a Zoom meeting

Please note that the meeting link will be emailed to MEMBERS ONLY* 

Topic: Pôt de l’amitié avec un vin de Touraine

Speakers: Bridgene et Philippe ARNAUD

Bridgene and Philippe join us online from lovely Tours nestled between the Loire and Cher valleys. They will take us on a virtual tour of a nearby winemaker and share some of the rituals associated with wine. Why not pick a bottle of Touraine wine to sip along with the presentation? Remember of course to “boire avec modération”.


This event is free for paid-up members of the Cercle français de Belfast. Guests are always welcome, for a small fee of £5 to be paid before the event (send us an email for further details).  The Zoom link will be sent to members and registered guests on the morning of the event.

Looking forward to seeing you on 22nd September.

À bientôt, 


14 juillet 2021

Bonne Fête Nationale 2021

Marianne, pictured in La Mairie de Quincy, Région Centre

Bonne Fête Nationale !

We asked our members to share some of their memories of celebrating the 14 July and here are a few of their replies...

From Claudine

Un de mes souvenirs du 14 JUILLET remonte à1990 à Blois, la ville mon enfance où en temps normal je retourne tous les ans.

Après la Prise d’armes qui précédait le feu d’artifice, je me suis trouvée tout à côté du Maire de Blois qui à cette époque était Jack Lang, aussi Ministre de la Culture et fondateur de la Fête de la Musique en 1981-82. Ma mère était avec moi. Bien que normalement pas socialiste elle avait voté pour lui aux élections municipales et assisté à plusieurs de ses réunions avec les Blésois. D’une nature très bavarde elle m’a dit “Je vais te présenter”, ajoutant, en lui parlant, que à quelques jours près- ce qui est vrai-nous partagions nos dates d’anniversaire…(un dimanche à la Cathédrale, elle a aussi dit la même chose à l’Evêque du diocèse qu’elle connaîssait mieux!) Nous nous sommes serré la main et je lui ai donc dit que j’habitais l’Irlande. Il m’a répondu qu’il connaissait “ce beau pays”, mais quand j’ai mentionné Belfast il a soupiré…sans doute des compassion. Je l’ai aussi félicité pour la création de la Fête de la Musique.

Cela a été en quelque sorte mon moment de “célébrité “indirecte, jamais enregistré!

N.B. La célébration du 14 JUILLET a parfois lieu le 13, la raison ici étant que Jack Lang, en tant que Ministre, devait être à Paris le matin du 14 pour prendre place sur la tribune officielle sur les Champs Elysées.


One of my memories of 14 JULY goes back to 1990 in Blois, the town of my youth where in normal times I go back every summer.

After the Review of the Troops, followed by the traditional fire works, I found myself immediately beside the Mayor of Blois who from 1989 to 2000 was Jack lang, who at the same time was Minister for Culture and in 1981-82 had set up the “Fête de la Musique”. I was with my mother who, although not normally a socialist , had voted for him in the local elections and attended several of his meetings. She was by nature a chatter-box and she said to me “I am going to introduce you”. She told him that given a few days- and this is true -our shared our birthdays, same month and same year…(At the Cathedral she also said the same thing to the Bishop of the time whom she knew better!) We shook hands and he told me he had visited Ireland, “a beautiful country”, but when I mentioned Belfast he sighed…probably with compassion. I also congratulated him for founding the “Fête de la Musique”. This was, vicariously, my “moment of fame”, never recorded!

N.B. The celebration of 14 JULY sometimes has to take place on the 13th. In this case, as a Minister, Jack Lang had to be in Paris in the morning of the 14th to take his place on the official grand stand on the Champs Elysées.

From Hélène

Bonjour tout le monde !

Aussi loin que je me souvienne, le 14 juillet a toujours été synonyme de... gâteau d'anniversaire ! Ma grand-mère était en effet née le jour de la Fête Nationale et nous ne manquions jamais de lui faire souffler ses bougies ce jour-là.

Si par hasard nous étions déjà en vacances à cette date, nous sortions alors le soir manger une crêpe et assister au traditionnel feu d'artifice sur la côte Atlantique...

Quand à une chanson qui évoque Paris pour moi, c'est bien évidemment Edith Piaf et son sublime morceau "La Foule". Quand je l'entends, je suis transportée immédiatement dans les rues pavées parisiennes, dans le tourbillon fou... d'un bal du 14 juillet peut-être ?!! Bon 14 juillet à toutes et à tous !  


From Christina

Sadly I never got to celebrate the Fete National in France, so no photos.

But a piece of music which immediately means France, and all things French, to me is Charles Trenet’s beautiful “La Mer”. 

Why? It was the first time I heard someone speak French.1940s. I must have been around seven years old. I was staying on a farm in the depths of Fermanagh with my grandmother. It came on the radio and I asked her why I couldn’t ‘hear’ what he was saying.

My grandmother explained this was the French language. I was besotted by the sound. Still am, truth be told.

Looking forward to seeing and hearing everyone’s contributions. Many thanks for organising,

Best wishes,


and finally here's one from John in Paris

Well, I think the festivities planned for the 14th are safe but - and this is for the first time since I arrived in France to live - the balls, fireworks displays, etc. of tonight have been cancelled because of the atrocious weather! It hasn't stopped flooding down all day - all because the Jetstream moved unexpectedly south in March/April. As a result, apart from a week's lovely weather in April or May, we have had NI's weather - unstable, and all too often cloudy, cool and rainy! It's been disgusting for weeks and weeks - I can't remember a spring and summer so bad since I came here in 2001...
It's due to take itself up on Friday or so, but there's no guarantee that that improvement will last. How unlike the months of brilliant weather last year!
Still, have a super 14th July yourselves - my best wishes to all the members!


Members have sent us details of songs they like to listen to on the day and we have added these to a  playlist on our members' YouTube channel. You should have received a link in a recent email but if not drop us a line to cfbelfast@gmail.com and why not share some of your snaps, snippets, souvenirs and songs?

Bonne fête !

13 juin 2021

A virtual trip in the mountains with Henry McKEE

Join us on 16 June for our next online meeting as Henry McKee takes us on a virtual trip in the mountains                                                        

Just as important as English climbers in Switzerland is the role of English, Scottish and Irish mountaineers in France and in particular the French Alps. This talk covers the romantic poets visiting Chamonix in the 18th century through to the "tigers" who surprised the French climbing world between the 1950s and now. We touch on the Irish pioneer from County Carlow who, in 1861, first described the effects of greenhouse gases on global warming and the Scotsman who was the first to study the science of glaciers.

16 mai 2021

A Cobber's Echo and a Virtual Picnic

 Chers Amis,

The next meeting of the Cercle Français de Belfast, in our new virtual format, will take place on mercredi 19 mai 2021 à 19h30 online as a Zoom meeting

(The Link will be emailed to MEMBERS ONLY* on mercredi 19 mai 2021 )

Topic: A Cobber’s Echo: Peter CORLETT

Speaker: Felicity JORY

A talk exploring how experiences at the Battles of Fromelles and Bullecourt shaped Digger legacies, and the effects these have had on Contemporary Australian Art with reference to Peter Corlett’s sculptures ‘Cobbers’ and ‘The Bullecourt Digger’.

*Please note: This event is free for paid-up members of the Cercle français de Belfast. Guests are always welcome, for a small fee of £5 to be paid before the event (send us an email for further details). The Zoom link will be sent to members and registered guests on the morning of 19th May.

Don't forget …

Virtual Picnic by Zoom

on Saturday 22nd May 2021 at 2pm till 3pm

(The Link will be emailed to MEMBERS ONLY* on mercredi 22 mai 2021 )

Sadly, due to the ongoing Covid restrictions the CFB picnic cannot be held as a public gathering in Wallace Park Lisburn as we had planned in our original 2020-2021 programme. Instead, we propose a short virtual picnic by Zoom on Saturday 22nd May 2021 at 2pm till 3pm. 
Looking forward to seeing you on 19th and 22nd May.

Prenez soin de vous et de vos proches,

À bientôt, 


03 mai 2021

Seamus McKeown

Nous avons la grande tristesse de vous informer du décès, à l'hôpital, de notre ami et collègue Seamus McKeown. 

Seamus était un conférencier beaucoup apprecié par nous tous pour sa sagesse, son humour et sa gentillesse.  Nous perdons un homme bien aimé par tous ceux qui le connaissaient.

Nos pensées sont avec sa famille, son épouse Claudine et son fils Kevin.  Nous les passons nos plus sincères condoléances. 

We are very sad to inform you of the death, in hospital, of our friend and colleague Seamus McKeown.  

Seamus was a much appreciated by us all for his wisdom, his humour and his kindness. We lose a man much loved by those who knew him. 

Our thoughts are with his family; his wife Claudine and son Kevin. We offer them our sincere condolences. 

The Committee and members of 

Le Cercle français de Belfast

26 avril 2021

Eleanor of Aquitaine

Chers Amis,
The next meeting of the Cercle français de Belfast, in our new virtual format, will take place on mercredi 28 avril 2021 à 19h30 online as a Zoom meeting*

Topic: Eleanor of Aquitaine
Speaker: Rachel TRACEY

Rachel looks to one of her favourite characters from the High Middle Ages and reflects on the long and turbulent life of Eleanor, Queen consort of France and England. A remarkable story, of a 12th century power player, mother of kings and queens, that continues to resonate in modern culture through many books, dramas and film.
Looking forward to seeing you on 28th April.
Prenez soin de vous et de vos proches,
À bientôt, Philip

*Please note: The event is free for paid-up members of the Cercle français de Belfast. Guests are always welcome, for a small fee of £5 to be paid before the event (send us an email for further details). The Zoom link will be sent to members and registered guests on the morning of 28th April.

16 avril 2021

Franco-Irish Literary Festival 2021

 Chers Membres,

If, like me, you forgot that the Franco-Irish Literary Festival is taking place online right now here is your chance to catch up and join in. The email below, which dropped into the Cercle inbox this morning, contains information and links which should help.

So far I have tried only the first link (“replay the show”) and it works. 

Have fun exploring and 'bon festival'.

À bientôt, Philip

Franco-Irish Literary Festival 2021:
Making A Better World / Refaire le monde

16 & 17 April – Live on Facebook

After last night's amazing performance including songs and readings (replay the show here), the  Franco-Irish Literary Festival main events will take place live on Facebook today and tomorrow with panel discussionsreadings, and interviews.

The 21st edition's theme is Making A Better World / Refaire le Monde , allowing discussions to focus on new ecological and environmental approaches in LiteratureProminent guests include documentarist and former Minister for the Environment Nicolas Hulot, poet Michael Longley, journalist Aymeric Caron, writers Sara BaumeNatacha Kanapé FontaineÉilís Ní Dhuibhne and 2020 Prix Femina recipient Serge Joncour, vocalist Síobhra Quinlan, and many, many more!

All events are presented in English and French with simultaneous English subtitles. The Festival is, as usual, free of charge and open to everyone (please note that a Facebook account is not required to attend).

Organised by Alliance Française Dublin and the French Embassy.

12 avril 2021

L'Écriture inclusive

Bonjour à toustes!
We look forward to seeing you at our next meeting on Wednesday 14 April at 19:30. Join us for a talk, quiz and interactive discussion on inclusive writing (l’écriture inclusive). If you’ve never heard of it, come and find out what it’s all about. If you have, tell us what you think. The evening will be in French & English.

The event is free for paid-up members of the Cercle français de Belfast. Guests are always welcome, for a small fee of £5 to be paid before the event (send us an email for further details). The Zoom link will be sent to members and registered guests on the morning of 14 April.

For those of you who’d like to find out a bit more in advance, here’s a little something to get you started. Do as much or as little prep as you like:

WATCH these two videos (5 mins):

In French: C'est quoi l'écriture inclusive ? - 1 jour, 1 question - YouTube

In English (CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE): What's Up France - #11 - Inclusive Writing – YouTube

Au plaisir de vous retrouver nombreux·ses le 14 avril !

Allison, Douglas & Marie

21 mars 2021

Renaissance mystery with Ray LARGAN

The next meeting of le Cercle virtuel is on Wednesday 24 March when Ray explores the mysterious death of King Henry II in a jousting contest.  This is an area that Ray is fascinated with and he'll reflect upon whether Henry's death by Gabriel Montgomery was an accident or murder?

And what of the subsequent consequences?


You will be!

If you've got your link we'll see you on Zoom.

À très bientôt !

11 mars 2021

Edna O'Brien awarded France's highest cultural distinction

Chers Membres, 
On Sunday last (7th March) the celebrated Irish author Edna O'Brien was awarded France's highest cultural award … Commandeur, Ordre des Arts et Lettres. The ceremony, with contributions from Mrs Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, France; the writer Colum McCann and the actor Gabriel Byrne took place online and was broadcast on the Le Cercle Littéraire website. For the next thirty days the event can be viewed on Le Cercle Littéraire's YouTube channel at …..


I understand that Le Cercle Littéraire is organising another free event in April - Irish writers living in Paris. If I can source any further information on this I shall circulate it to you nearer the time.

Prenez soin de vous et de vos proches,

À bientôt,


15 février 2021

Le Salon de l'Auto

 Chers Amis

The next meeting of the Cercle Français de Belfast, in our new virtual format, will take place on 

mercredi 17 février 2021 à 19h30 online as a Zoom meeting

The Link will be emailed to MEMBERS ONLY* on mercredi 17 février 2021

Topic: Le Salon de l’Auto 

Speaker: Jonathan LYONS 

The biennial Paris motor show did not going ahead last October but Jonathan provides a historical retrospective on what has been the world’s biggest motor show. We know that many members were looking forward to this talk last year so here's another chance to get your engines revving.

Looking forward to seeing you on 17th February.

Prenez soin de vous et de vos proches,

À bientôt,


*Please note: While information about our events is circulated to everyone on our mailing list the links giving access to our Zoom meetings are only sent to members and to guests who have paid for one-off attendance (£5). For more information please contact cfbelfast@gmail.com.

11 janvier 2021

Nuit de la lecture 2021

Bonjour à toutes et à tous,

The Cercle français de Belfast is delighted to be taking part in its third Nuit de la lecture, an annual worldwide celebration of French language and literature organised by the French Ministry for Culture. 
Come and join us for two relaxed and informal afternoons of reading and discussion about French language and literature.

These free events are open to anyone who loves the French language, from beginner to advanced learners of French, as well as native speakers.

Event 1: Lectures à voix haute/Read it out loud    
Saturday 16 January 2021, 15:00-17:00.

Sit back, relax and listen as our members and friends read from a variety of well-known and original texts in French.  Join the discussion on a series of poems written by one of our members. Test your knowledge in our quotations quiz.

Event 2: Ma bibliothèque à moi/What’s on my bookshelf
Saturday 23 January 2021, 15:00-16:30.

Show us your bookshelf! This second event is an opportunity for all of us to join the discussion and talk (in French or in English) about French-language and French-interest books we’ve loved (or loathed).

You’ll have a few minutes in a Zoom break-out room to discuss your literary loves and hates, after which you’ll switch to a new group.

How to take part

If you are on our members and friends mailing list, you’ll receive the Zoom links for both events. If not, consider subscribing to the list.

For more information on the Nuit de la Lecture, please get in touch with me ℅ cfbelfast@gmail.com

Au plaisir de vous voir nombreux!


Allison Neill-Rabaux
Cercle français de Belfast

01 janvier 2021

CfB Membership and 6 janvier 2021

 Chers Amis,

Despite these strange times, I hope that you have had, and are still enjoying, a lovely Christmas.

The next meeting of the Cercle Français de Belfast, in our new virtual format, will take place on ….

… mercredi 6 janvier 2021 à 19h.30 online as a Zoom meeting

(The Link will be emailed to MEMBERS ONLY* on 6 janvier 2021 )

Topic: Zoom live cook-in! 
     Speaker: Patricia HARDIMAN

What better way to celebrate Le Jour des Rois / L'Epiphanie than to learn how to make a frangipane ‘Galette des Rois’? Participate in this online course and learn all about the traditional recipe and how to bake your own frangipane cake. Now taste it! 

* PLEASE NOTE:  Starting January 2021, the meeting links will be sent to paid-up members only (as well as to guests who have paid for one-off attendance). The best way to have complete access to our very full 2021 programme (see tab above) is to be a member of The Cercle Français de Belfast. 

A big thank you to everyone who has already joined.

To be sure of not missing out subscribe or renew as soon as possible. 

Looking forward to seeing you on 6th January.

Bonne année. Prenez soin de vous et de vos proches,

À bientôt,