In honour of Bastille Day, we’ve scoured the country for the crème de la crème of French food and culture in Australia.
On July 14, 1789, Parisian hordes stormed the Bastille prison, signalling the beginning of the French Revolution and the loss of many heads at the guillotine. It’s become a national holiday in France, celebrating the formation of the French republic. Here in Australia, it’s a great excuse to partake of the best that our French friends have produced: dancing to breathy Serge Gainsbourg songs, eating copious croissants and crying “Bonjour!” with wild abandon.
BBR (Bleu Blanc Rouge) Festival, Sydney
When: July 14 to 17
Where: Customs House Square, Circular Quay
What: There’s a French food market selling delicacies such as duck confit, Champagne, crème brûlée and French fries (country of origin is debatable but who’s complaining?), in addition to French wine tastings, French cooking classes, an open-air cinema and an artisan market. There’s also an opening-night party on Bastille Day with French DJs and, mais oui, cancan girls.
Bastille Day French Festival, Melbourne
When: July 16 and 17
Where: State Library of Victoria
What: Enjoy cheese and wine masterclasses, French film screenings, theatre performances and a raffle with a top prize of a trip for two to New Caledonia. There are also informative conference talks, such as “Live your French dream: seminar on legal aspects of buying a French property” by Michael Bula.
French Week, Brisbane
When: July 8 to 16
What: Venues around Brisbane will be paying tribute to all things French, with free French lessons at Alliance Française, a pétanque tournament and an open morning at the French Consulate.
SEE ALSO: 5 New Reasons to Visit Paris
Food and drink
Shifty Chèvre, Melbourne
When: July 14, 6.30pm and 9pm
Where: 375 Brunswick Street, Melbourne
What: There’s nothing more French than consuming French cheese and wine on Bastille Day, especially if you’re wearing a Breton shirt and beret. At Shifty Chèvre the three-course Bastille Day dinner concludes with three French cheeses with a baguette and quince paste.
Bakers Maison Bakery Café, Sydney
When: July 14, 7am to 6pm
Where: 161 King Street, Sydney
What: Taking the catchcry “Let them eat cake!” to its inevitable conclusion (no, not a beheading), French bakehouse Bakers Maison is offering free croissants and free cheese and wine tastings. Did we mention it was gratuit?
Bon Ap’, Melbourne
When: July 14, lunch and dinner
Where: 193 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
What: As in Paris, this little wine bar and bistro is offering an affordable and delicious prix fixe menu for lunch and dinner on July 14. There are too many choices: French onion soup or sardines stuffed with spinach and pine nuts with romesco sauce? Will you choose steak frites or duck confit? Tarte Tatin or classic crème brûlée? As a bonus, the best French impersonation wins a magnum of Château Penin Bordeaux. Start rehearsing your Gérard Depardieu.
Bastille Day Cocktail Party, Perth
When: July 16, 6.30pm to 10pm
Where: 221 Adelaide Terrace, Perth
What: Alliance Française de Perth, in collaboration with the French-Australian Chamber of Commerce, La Maison de France and the French Consulate, is celebrating Bastille Day with a cocktail party at Novotel Perth Langley. Enjoy a French cocktail menu, canapés such as pickled quail eggs and duck rillettes, Champagne and music by Lezami.
When: July 14 to 17
Where: Level 3, Westfield, corner of Pitt Street Mall and Market Street, Sydney
What: The French macaron purveyor is holding Bastille Day–themed high tea, complete with a complimentary Mor gift. Ladurée’s gorgeous limited-edition Paris-inspired boxes by illustrator Kerrie Hess, commissioned especially for Bastille Day, come filled with eight delectable macarons of your choice. The Marie Antoinette is said to be a winner.
Café Ananas, Sydney
When: July 14 and 17
Where: 2 Phillip Street, Circular Quay
What: The sister restaurant to The Rocks’ currently closed Ananas Bar & Brasserie is hosting a Bastille dinner on July 14 with three courses and matching French wines. On July 17, enjoy Champagne brunch with seafood and charcuterie.
Songs of Edith Piaf at Buzo, Sydney
When: July 14, from 6.30pm
Where: 3 Jersey Road, Woollahra
What: Legendary singer Edith Piaf is being honoured on Bastille Day at Buzo. Soprano Nacelle Yeo pays tribute to “the one without regrets” to the accompaniment of seven courses, including duck liver pâté and crab bisque, prepared by chef Jason Dean and his team.