AFdeGR News August

Bastille Day

On Sunday, July 14, Alliance Française de Grand Rapids celebrated Bastille Day in fine style.

About 50 of us gathered at Suzanne and Mike Kelly’s home, happy to be in perfect summer weather and in a setting made for generous hospitality. We enjoyed being together to celebrate this day honoring French freedom. We sang La Marseillaise and some of us pretended to be seasoned French waiters for the traditional Waiter’s Race. Matt Channing, Stacy Hunter’s son-in-law, was the most convincing and won the prize.

Poached salmon, that staple of the James Beard era of entertaining which we continue to love, was again the centerpiece of a buffet table made beautiful by the salads, the quiches, the desserts contributed by everyone.

We were mindful that never again will we have Joel Boland’s stalwart presence at this annual event, but are so grateful Kati Boland could be there.

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Pétanque Reminder

We hope you’re planning to come to the pétanque tournament at Sovengard on Sunday, August 18, 4:00 p.m.to 7:00 p.m. Contact Linda FitzGerald, linfreniu@juno.com to let her know you’re coming and whether you’d like to play in the tournament. The address of The Sovengard Restaurant is 443 Bridge St NW, Suite 1, Grand Rapids, MI, 49504. We’ll be meeting in their outdoor biergarten near the pétanque/bocce courts.

French Classes

Start to think about whether you want to take a fall French class! Two levels of French are offered: Refresh Your French, which begins September 24, and Converse in French which begins September 26.

While Rita Selles has been our “prof” for several years, she will not be this fall because she’ll be in France with her family. Our instructor this fall is Elizabeth Hill, who with a Master’s degree from Michigan State University, has recently moved to Grand Rapids to teach Spanish at an area school. Her first passion is the French language so she’s excited to have an opportunity to teach French two nights a week. No textbooks required. Contact Jane Larson, janel@wittetravel.com for a registration form and more information.

Cercle de Conversation and English French Book Club

Remember to visit our website for the latest information about these two on-going offerings: go to www.afgrandrapids.org and click on “Calendar”. The next Cercle de Conversation takes place Tuesday, August 20, 6:30 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at the Schuler Books Café. For more information contact Carolyn Chapman, carolynpeacock@charter.net.

Membership Renewal Invitation

Have you sent Sue Murphy your Alliance Française de Grand Rapids Membership Renewal Form yet? Email ellenvandermey@aol.com if you’d like her to send you the renewal form.

Adieu Joel Boland

Adieu Joel Boland. . .

It is with great sadness that we report the death of Joel Boland on June 2, 2019. The lives of all of us members of Alliance Française de Grand Rapids were graced by him because he gave so much to our Alliance Française chapter. As Sue Murphy, Treasurer of our chapter, said, “Joel has been the heart and soul of our chapter.” He served as Vice President for many years, hosting board meetings at his and wife Kati’s home, bringing some delectable dish from his own gourmet kitchen to each Bastille Day gathering, each Fall Reception and serving his inimitable gumbo at Mardi Gras parties. He did this all with generous, good-humored kindness. Kati will be organizing a Celebration of Life service soon; the Grand Rapids Press Obituaries will have the details when they become available. Our hearts go out to Kati , their family and their many friends.

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AFGR Chapter News May

2019 One Book One Federation Selection

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Here’s a good book for those of us who want to deepen our knowledge of the French language and culture by reading a book in its original French language. It’s the yearly recommendation from the Federation’s One Book One Federation program. The Federation, you may remember, refers to the Federation of Alliances Françaises USA, of which our chapter is a member. The Federation’s book reviewer, Barbara Bouquegneau, describes the book this way:

“Reminiscent of novels by Nick Hornby, Muriel Barbery, and Jonathan Tropper, internationally acclaimed novelist David Foenkinos delivers a heartfelt and deftly comedic tale of new love brightening the dark aftermath of loss—and of wounded hearts finding refuge in the strangest of places.

After her husband’s unexpected death, Natalie has erected a fortress around her emotions—and Markus, clumsy and unassuming, will never be her knight in shining armor. Yet slowly but surely, an offbeat romance begins between these two mismatched, complex souls, and contrary to everything Natalie knows of affection, her perfect suitor may turn out to be love’s most unlikely candidate—the fool, not the hero, who is finally able to reach her heart.”

You’ll find more information about the book, as well as about a study guide at www.afusa.org and selecting “Programs”. If you’re interested in forming a discussion group around this book, write ellenvandermey@aol.com and she’ll get the word out.

Congratulations, Students of French

The spring session of French classes offered by Alliance Française de Grand Rapids has just concluded. Thank you very much to Rita Selles for her congenial and professional way of teaching us and to the students who continue to appreciate this opportunity to learn French. Both “Refresh Your French” and “Converse in French” were offered this spring and we look forward to offering them again in the fall.

Steve Soper Steps Aside

We’ve received many compliments about our website design and content: AFdeGR member Steve Soper deserves the credit and praise for it. He’s also been the editor of and principal writer for our monthly newsletter, but these two functions he’s ready to relinquish, as other responsibilities, such as lecturing for OLLI courses at Aquinas and his own writing projects, research and travel opportunities continue to grow. He will, however, still post the relevant news items and events information you send him. Thank you, Steve, for helping us relish illimitable France through the well-curated videos, photographs (and quizzes) you brought to the website.

Spring at Chateau Villandry in the Loire Valley

Spring at Chateau Villandry in the Loire Valley

Thank you for being a member of Alliance Française de Grand Rapids.





AFGR Chapter News April

French Cheese Lecture in Detroit

The Detroit Alliance Française has extended an invitation to our member who might be interested in attending their event: "Atelier: Introduction to French Cheese". It will be April 12 from 7:00 to 8:30 PM in Farmington Hills. The cost is $40. More information. Or: https://frenchinstitute.org/events/2019/04/atelier-introduction-french-cheese/

From Revolution to the Belle Époque: Stories of 19th century Women in Paris

Charlotte Corday, Marie Bashkirtseff, Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun, Sophie Blanchard, Jane Avril, Loïe Fuller, Juliette Recamier, Berthe Morisot are just a few of the fascinating women you’ll meet in this two-hour class. French, Russian, American, so many incredible women brought their talents to Paris and helped define the history and culture of France. Many were superstars of their time but are too often forgotten today.

AFGR member Steve Soper will introduce you to women whose work transcends time, whose spirit lives on in paintings, in literature, in the very culture of European and Western Civilization.

April 5, 9:30-11:30am, Browne Center, Aquinas College.

For more information visit the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Aquinas College.

Post of Jane Avril by Toulouse-Lautrec

Post of Jane Avril by Toulouse-Lautrec

recognize the pose?

recognize the pose?

France TV online

This website gives access to a lot of French programming, including daily news programs. Some programming that appears available actually isn’t due to broadcasting agreements. Subtitles are available in French (not in English).

https://www.france.tv/

France 24 News online

Another wonderful source for keeping up with all things French. This site is in English and is available as an app for iPad and iPhone as well.

AFGR Chapter News March

Mardi Gras Party 2019!

Fat Tuesday, 5 March — for details and to register download the invitation!

French film

“Queen to Play” - file by Caroline Bottaro. In French — and Kevin Kline does speak French — with subtitles. Available for streaming on Amazon Prime.

From Revolution to the Belle Époque: Stories of 19th century Women in Paris

Charlotte Corday, Marie Bashkirtseff, Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun, Sophie Blanchard, Jane Avril, Loïe Fuller, Juliette Recamier, Berthe Morisot are just a few of the fascinating women you’ll meet in this two-hour class. French, Russian, American, so many incredible women brought their talents to Paris and helped define the history and culture of France. Many were superstars of their time but are too often forgotten today.

AFGR member Steve Soper will introduce you to women whose work transcends time, whose spirit lives on in paintings, in literature, in the very culture of European and Western Civilization.

April 5, 9:30-11:30am, Browne Center, Aquinas College.

For more information visit the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Aquinas College.

Post of Jane Avril by Toulouse-Lautrec

Post of Jane Avril by Toulouse-Lautrec

recognize the pose?

recognize the pose?

France TV online

This website gives access to a lot of French programming, including daily news programs. Some programming that appears available actually isn’t due to broadcasting agreements. Subtitles are available in French (not in English).

https://www.france.tv/

France 24 News online

Another wonderful source for keeping up with all things French. This site is in English and is available as an app for iPad and iPhone as well.

AFGR Chapter News February

We were saddened to learn recently that Elliot Serafin died.  He was a long-time member of Alliance Française de Grand Rapids and appreciated by the many who knew him for his friendship and valuable contributions to our wider community. Our thoughts and hearts go out to his family and friends. http://obits.mlive.com/obituaries/grandrapids/obituary.aspx?n=elliott-serafin&pid=191321038&fhid=5484

Mardi Gras Party 2019!

Fat Tuesday, 5 March — for details and to register download the invitation!

Studying French in France

Linda FitzGerald took summer language courses for her Master’s Degree at Centre International d'Etudes Françaises (CIDEF) at the Université Catholique de l'Ouest in Angers, France.

Courses range from one week to one year in length.

If you’re interested contact Linda at linfreniu@juno.com and she will forward the information.

La Conversation group

Please join us for a conversation about the French novel La Tête en friche, available on Amazon.  The discussion about the book will also be in French.  Light hors-d’oeuvres and beverages will be served.

To RSVP please contact Carolyn Chapman or phone (616) 868-5217. 

When: Sunday February 24 at 3:00 PM
Where: 5903 Bancroft Ave SE, Alto, MI 49302

AFGR Book Club

Our next book club selection is the prize winning bestseller in France, Small Country by Gael Faye. In his first book, the author recounts his childhood in Burundi.

We will be meeting Tuesday, March 12 at Schuler's at 5:30pm. For more information contact Marijke.Wiersema.

From Revolution to the Belle Époque: Stories of 19th century Women in Paris

Charlotte Corday, Marie Bashkirtseff, Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun, Sophie Blanchard, Jane Avril, Loïe Fuller, Juliette Recamier, Berthe Morisot are just a few of the fascinating women you’ll meet in this two-hour class. French, Russian, American, so many incredible women brought their talents to Paris and helped define the history and culture of France. Many were superstars of their time but are too often forgotten today.

AFGR member Steve Soper will introduce you to women whose work transcends time, whose spirit lives on in paintings, in literature, in the very culture of European and Western Civilization.

April 12, 9:30-11:30am, Browne Center, Aquinas College.

For more information visit the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Aquinas College.

Marie Bashkirtseff

Marie Bashkirtseff

France TV online

This website gives access to a lot of French programming, including daily news programs. Some programming that appears available actually isn’t due to broadcasting agreements. Subtitles are available in French (not in English).

https://www.france.tv/

France 24 News online

Another wonderful source for keeping up with all things French. This site is in English and is available as an app for iPad and iPhone as well.

AFGR Chapter News January 2019

La Conversation

All levels and abilities are welcome for a casual evening of French conversation.
Wine and light refreshments will be served.
When: The conversation group will be meeting on Tuesday, Jan 29 from 6:30-8:00pm.
Where: 1825 Weymouth Dr. SE, Grand Rapids, 49508
RSVP by Jan 27 to Linda at linfreniu@juno.com or text her at 616-970-8260.

From Revolution to the Belle Époque: Stories of 19th century Women in Paris

Charlotte Corday, Marie Bashkirtseff, Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun, Sophie Blanchard, Jane Avril, Loïe Fuller, Juliette Recamier, Berthe Morisot are just a few of the fascinating women you’ll meet in this two-hour class. French, Russian, American, so many incredible women brought their talents to Paris and helped define the history and culture of France. Many were superstars of their time but are too often forgotten today.

AFGR member Steve Soper will introduce you to women whose work transcends time, whose spirit lives on in paintings, in literature, in the very culture of European and Western Civilization.

April 12, 9:30-11:30am, Browne Center, Aquinas College.

For more information visit the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Aquinas College.

“Self-portrait” (detail) by Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun

“Self-portrait” (detail) by Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun

France TV online

This website gives access to a lot of French programming, including daily news programs. Some programming that appears available actually isn’t due to broadcasting agreements. Subtitles are available in French (not in English).

https://www.france.tv/

France 24 News online

Another wonderful source for keeping up with all things French. This site is in English and is available as an app for iPad and iPhone as well.

AFGR Chapter News December

Joyeux Noël! Bonne Année!

Winter French Discussion Group

Linda FitzGerald and Carolyn Chapman are planning a discussion group in February or March 2019 focusing on the Federation recommended novel La Tête en friche by Marie-Sabine Roger. Please note this is in French.

The novel is about an illiterate handyman who meets a highly educated elderly woman and the friendship they develop.

Our discussion group will be open to AF members who have learned any level of French. The discussion will be in French. After you have made your best attempt to read the novel, if this is a daunting task for you, the story has been made into a French movie called My Afternoons with Margueritte.

Please email Carolyn if you have any questions or think you might be interested in joining the discussion group. The size of the group will help us determine the location of the meeting. The date will be announced in the January newsletter.

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AFGR Book Club

The next book club selection is Mastering the Art of French Living (2018), by Mark Greenside, a short and humorous depiction of living among the French.

We will be meeting on Tuesday, January 8 at 5:30pm at Schulers.

France TV online

This website gives access to a lot of French programming, including daily news programs. Some programming that appears available actually isn’t due to broadcasting agreements. Subtitles are available in French (not in English).

https://www.france.tv/

France 24 News online

Another wonderful source for keeping up with all things French. This site is in English and is available as an app for iPad and iPhone as well.

A sample of the paintings of Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun

AFGR Chapter News November

La Conversation en Automne

All levels and abilities are welcome for a casual evening of French conversation.
Wine and light refreshments will be served.
When: The conversation group will be meeting on Monday, Nov. 12 from 6:30-8:00pm.
Where: 1825 Weymouth Dr. SE, Grand Rapids, 49508
RSVP by Sat. Nov. 10 to Linda at linfreniu@juno.com or text her at 616-970-8260.

AFGR Chapter Beaujolais Nouveau Dinner

15 November at the University Club in Downtown Grand Rapids. Before-dinner cocktails at 6:00p.m, with dinner about 6:45p.m.  The complete dinner offers an entrée choice of Shrimp Scampi or Chicken Françoise. There will be four wines served in addition to the Beaujolais Nouveau.

Cost for the dinner is $65 per person and includes gratuity, tax and parking.

To make reservations and chose your entrée selection please call the University Club at 616-456-8623. You may pay by credit card, or use your Club Membership number.

Deadline for reservations is Monday, November 12th.

Oh yes— there are NO Walk-ins permitted.

Mélodies - An evening of French song, music and poetry/Une soirée de chansons et de poésies françaises

Presented by the French section of the Department of Modern Languages and Literature at GVSU.

Wed. Nov. 7, 2018
6:00-8:30pm
Grand Valley State University
Cook-Dewitt Center on the Allendale Campus

There will be refreshments and snacks before the show begins. Free admission.

AFGR Book Club

The next book club selection will be the 2018 release of Ann Mah's first attempt at a novel, The Lost Vintage. We previously read her Mastering the Art of French Eating.

We will be meeting on Tuesday, November 13 at 5:30pm at Schulers.

France TV online

This website gives access to a lot of French programming, including daily news programs. Some programming that appears available actually isn’t due to broadcasting agreements. Subtitles are available in French (not in English).

https://www.france.tv/

France 24 News online

Another wonderful source for keeping up with all things French. This site is in English and is available as an app for iPad and iPhone as well.

https://www.france24.com/

News from The Federation of Alliances Françaises USA

One Book, One Federation 2018 selection

One Book, One Federation 2018 selection

Remember the Federation’s “One Book One Federation” program from past years? Designed to encourage French literacy, the Federation each year chooses a book that will appeal to readers with varying knowledge of the French language, then creates a reading guide. This year’s selection is La Tête en Friche, by Marie-Sabine Roger. The address below gives you much more information about this charming, heart-warming story and where to buy it:

https://afusa.org/one-book-one-federation/

If anyone’s interested in forming a discussion group on this book, we’ll be happy to get the word out. Contact Ellen VanderMey: 616-676-3087, ellenvandermey@aol.com.

 From France 24 News - A nation pays its respects to singer Charles Aznavour

AFGR Chapter News October

Meeting with the French Consul of Chicago

This past Tuesday, September 25, several members of the AFGR board had the opportunity to meet with the French Consul in Chicago Guillaume Lacroix and Honorary French Consul (Detroit) Jean Mallebay-Vacqueur. Much of the conversation, hosted by Jane Larson and Witte Travel, turned on how the French consulate can help our chapter promote French programs.

l-r: Susan VandenBerg, Leslie Matthews, Ellen VanderMey, Jean Mallebay-Vacqueur, Guillaume Lacroix, Jane Larson and Sue Murphy

l-r: Susan VandenBerg, Leslie Matthews, Ellen VanderMey, Jean Mallebay-Vacqueur, Guillaume Lacroix, Jane Larson and Sue Murphy

Presentation on the Historic Cemeteries of Paris

In this two-week session at Aquinas College's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) Steve Soper will explore the four most popular cemeteries of Paris: Passy, Montmartre, Montparnasse and of course Père-Lachaise. You’ll meet some of the world’s greatest artists, musicians, writers, and many of France’s most revered historical, cultural and intellectual treasures and hear some truly amazing stories, stories that live on in stone and local memory. They’re all dead of course but that doesn’t stop the French from leaving notes, stones, Metro tickets and otherwise paying homage not just to a person but also to their own history. 

In the second week we’ll focus our attention on the incredible art open air museum that is Père-Lachaise where we’ll examine just a few of nearly 2,000 works of art. Between the stories and the art you’ll soon understand why more than 3 million people visit this cemetery every year.

For more information visit OLLi online.

To get a head start visit: www.pariscemeteries.com.

view of Paris from Père-Lachaise, c. 1820

view of Paris from Père-Lachaise, c. 1820

Fall Wine Dinner at Nonna’s Trattoria in Ada

Sunday, October 28. Details will follow soon.

AFGR Book Club

The next book club selection will be the 2018 release of Ann Mah's first attempt at a novel, The Lost Vintage. We previously read her Mastering the Art of French Eating.

We will be meeting on Tuesday, November 13 at 5:30pm at Schulers.

France 24 The French Fifth Republic Turns 60!

Postcards from Paris

Bus trip to see La bohème in Chicago

Join the Friends of the Opera on a trip to the Lyric Opera in Chicago on Sunday, October 14, 2018 to see the 2pm matinee performance of Puccini's La bohème. 

  • Travel to and from Chicago by comfortable Motor Coach

  • Depart 9:30 am, sharp, and return 10:30 pm, approximate

  • Rendezvous at the Jenison Meijer, 550 Baldwin St, Jenison, MI 49428

  • Dine in one of several Lyric restaurants


Cost $100-205 and includes your ticket to the performance and round-trip bus fare.



Reserve by 19 September!


For more information or to reserve your seat contact Peggy Barber at 231-740-8200, or email: trips@fotogr.org.

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AFGR Chapter News September

France 24 News

Recruiting France’s most celebrated environmentalist as minister was a huge political coup for President Emmanuel Macron. But Nicolas Hulot’s abrupt resignation on Tuesday looks set to call the French president’s green credentials into question. Read more

Annual Fall Reception

The Annual Fall Reception of the Alliance Franҫaise de Grand Rapids will be held on 12 September from 6:30pm to 9:00pm. This is your opportunity to renew friendships and introduce your guests to our organization. It will give them an opportunity to join and take part in the many activities members enjoy throughout the year.

For idetails of the event please contact Ellen VandenMey.

French film series at Calvin September 13-24

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September 13 - Visages/Villages by Agnés Varda
September 17 - Les Neiges du Kilimandjaro by Robert Guédiguian
September 20 - Les Héritiers by Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar
September 24 - Les Gardiennes by Xavier Beauvois

Showtime is 7:30pm, at the Bytwerk Theater, DeVos Communication Center. Admission is free. Need more information?

French Book Club at Schuler's Bookstore September 18

Our next book club selection is the last book by Peter Mayle, My Twenty-Five Years in Provence: Reflections on Then and Now.  Peter Mayle passed away in January of 2018.

Many of you have probably already read or heard about his many books and films starting with his first, A Year in Provence.

We hope you get a chance to enjoy Peter's memoir and join us Tuesday, September 18, at 5:30 pm for our next discussion. 

French Consul to speak at Calvin on September 25

On Tuesday, Sept. 25 the Calvin College French Department in partnership with  the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan is hosting the French Consul from Chicago, Guillaume Lacroix, for a lecture on French-US relations. For more information visit the World Affairs Council online.

Social Time -- 6:15-7:00 PM  
Program -- 7:00-8:00 PM

Calvin College, Commons Annex Lecture Hall, 1835 Knollcrest Circle SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506. Use Covenant Fine Arts Center parking lot

Cost to attend: $10

 Pétanque Tournament is a Fait Accompli

On a recent warm Sunday afternoon, we played our yearly pétanque tournament, this time at the Søvengård Restaurant. Their bocci court, situated at the north end of their outdoor patio is perfectly functional as a pétanque court too. We spectators sat on benches at a long table next to the court and under an umbrella. It made a convenient spot for sipping Aperol Spritzers (not typical for a pétanque game, but effective), and other cooling beverages, while encouraging the players. Who won? Well, Susan Vandenberg and Steve Soper gave Linda FitzGerald and PJ FitzGerald an excellent match, with Linda and PJ winning in an exciting, close finish, 7 to 6. We were not too deep into our beer fries and spritzers to warmly congratulate them all, the winner receiving a bottle of pastis, and the runners-up a bottle of Erath Pinot Noir. Thank you, everyone, for making that Sunday afternoon a special one.

For a selection of photos from the AFGR tourney at Søvengård on West Bridge Street please visit the AFGR flickr page, right here.

The Local -France website

We received a tip from an AFGR member that The Local-France  (https://www.thelocal.fr/ ) is a great source for daily happenings  in France. One can get most of the articles gratis or subscribe for a few dollars a month, which is what he does. Thank you, Bryan!

Bilingual Job Opportunity

Amway has multiple opportunities in its Customer Service Center in Ada, and is seeking bilingual candidates who speak fluent English and French. If you know anyone who might be interested, please share the job posting link below. They can apply online.

Bilingual French: https://bit.ly/2o3PfPB

Petanque Coupe de France 2018

And if you haven't gotten your fill of Petanque check out the 2018 Petanque event in France:

AFGR Chapter News August

Members and Non members!

Our new membership year is beginning. This is an excellent time to consider renewing or joining Alliance Française de Grand Rapids.  Members should have received a Renewal of Membership Invitation recently, by email or postal service. If you haven’t, contact Ellen VanderMey at ellenvandermey@aol.com.  We look forward to sharing in the many facets of French culture and language this coming year.

If you’re not yet a member, please join for a year and see what it’s all about. The membership fee is $25 for one person and $35 for a couple. Go to the "Join" page on this website where you’ll find the link for downloading the membership application. We hope to see you at our next gathering.

French classes starting in September

Refresh starts Tuesday, September 25 and Converse starts Thursday, September 27. Check back to the French Classes page for details coming soon!

Petanque Tournament August 19!

Remember to check the calendar for information on the August 19 Petanque Tournament at Sövengård's bocce court on Grand Rapids West Side. Remember, the food and drink are available through the restaurant only. For more information about what they offer visit their website right here.

And if you need to brush up on your throwing skills, check out the training video below!

French Book Club at Schuler's Bookstore September 18

Our next book club selection is the last book by Peter Mayle, My Twenty-Five Years in Provence: Reflections on Then and Now.  Peter Mayle passed away in January of 2018.

Many of you have probably already read or heard about his many books and films starting with his first, A Year in Provence.

We hope you get a chance to enjoy Peter's memoir and join us Tuesday, September 18 for our next discussion. 

Bastille Day 2018 Photos

Click on the image to see the entire album on Flickr - merci!

Bastille Day 2018

Petanque Training Video

AFGR Chapter News July

La Conversation d'été!

Come join us for wine, cheese and conversation on Tuesday July 10 from 6:30-8:00 pm.  All ability levels are welcomed and encouraged to join in.  

Weather permitting we will be on the deck, if not, then indoors.  Wine and cheese is provided but if you have a tasty treat you would like to share, please feel free to do so!  

We will be meeting at Linda FitzGerald's house - 1825 Weymouth Dr. SE, Grand Rapids.  RSVP to linfreniu@juno.com or text to 616-970-8260.  Je vous verrai en juillet!

Bastille Day in Grand Rapids

Bastille Day or Quatorze Juillet, as the French call it will be celebrated in Grand Rapids on Sunday, July 15.

Alliance Française de Grand Rapids members will receive an invitation with more details about the festivities in their inbox or mailbox.

Are you not a member? Please click on "Join" at the top of this page to learn how to become a member so we can send you an invitation.

Let's honor France's National Day together!

AFGR Book Club at Schulers!

Our next book club selection is Renoir's Dance by Catherine Hewitt.  This 2018 published in 2018 this biography of Suzanne Valadon reads like a novel.  Suzanne started out as a model for the impressionist painters and under the mentoring of Degas became a painter herself. She also was the mother of Montmartre painter Maurice Utrillo. 

July 24 5:30pm, Schuler's Bookstore Grand Rapids.

Petanque Tournament 2018!

This year's competition will be held August 19 at the bocce court at Søvengård Restaurant on Bridge Street in Grand Rapids.

More details to follow soon!

Bastille Day in Grand Rapids!

Bastille Day or Quatorze Juillet, as the French call it will be celebrated in Grand Rapids on Sunday, July 15.

Alliance Française de Grand Rapids members will receive an invitation with more details about the festivities in their inbox or mailbox.

Are you not a member? Please click on "Join" at the top of this page to learn how to become a member so we can send you an invitation.

Let's honor France's National Day together!

AFGR Chapter News for June

Detroit River Cruise and French History

AF Detroit chapter is offering a cruise along the Detroit river focusing on French history in eastern Michigan on June 24. The commentary is in French and English. For details visit the Alliance Française de Detroit. More information.

AFGR chapter news

The 2018 recipient of the AF Grand Rapids Scholarship is Lukas Isenga. You can find out more about Lukas right here.

Our next book club selection is Renoir's Dance by Catherine Hewitt.  This 2018 published in 2018 this biography of Suzanne Valadon reads like a novel.  Suzanne started out as a model for the impressionist painters and under the mentoring of Degas became a painter herself. She also was the mother of Montmartre painter Maurice Utrillo. July 24, Schuler Books, 5:30pm. Contact Marijke Wiersema for more information.

Suzanne self-portrait:

suzanne-valadon-self.PNG

News for the week of May 27

NOTE: Beginning next Sunday, June 3, the newsletter will be sent to your inbox monthly. 

Detroit River Cruise and French History

AF Detroit chapter is offering a cruise along the Detroit river focusing on French history in eastern Michigan on June 24. The commentary is in French and English. For details visit the Alliance Française de Detroit. More information.

AFGR chapter news

Our next book club selection is Renoir's Dance by Catherine Hewitt.  This 2018 published in 2018 this biography of Suzanne Valadon reads like a novel.  Suzanne started out as a model for the impressionist painters and under the mentoring of Degas became a painter herself. She also was the mother of Montmartre painter Maurice Utrillo. July 24, Schuler Books, 5:30pm. Contact Marijke Wiersema for more information.

Suzanne self-portrait:

suzanne-valadon-self.PNG

News for the week of May 20

Video of Renoir painting

Even though he was confined to a wheelchair and his arthritis required someone place brushes in his hands Renoir continued to paint. Video is 3:00 minutes.

Detroit River Cruise and French History

AF Detroit chapter is offering a cruise along the Detroit river focusing on French history in eastern Michigan on June 24. The commentary is in French and English. For details visit the Alliance Française de Detroit. More information.

AFGR chapter news

Our next book club selection is Renoir's Dance by Catherine Hewitt.  This 2018 published in 2018 this biography of Suzanne Valadon reads like a novel.  Suzanne started out as a model for the impressionist painters and under the mentoring of Degas became a painter herself. She also was the mother of Montmartre painter Maurice Utrillo. July 24, Schuler Books, 5:30pm. Contact Marijke Wiersema for more information.

Suzanne self-portrait:

suzanne-valadon-self.PNG

 

 

Travel in France

News for the week of May 13

Video of Monet painting at Giverny

This incredible video clip from 1915 allows you a brief look inside how this man made such fabulous works of art. It's about 2:45 minutes long.

Letter from France: Eating in Paris can be cheaper than eating in Grand Rapids, Michigan

At one point early on in our latest trip to Paris I had a revelation.  When I received the dinner bill at Iovines on rue de Bretagne I figured it came to about $72. Since the meal consisted of fairly basic components that we had eaten many times in the USA I thought it would be interesting to do a cost comparison with a place that served similar food. I chose Licari’s, a pizza place in Grand Rapids where we have eaten from time to time. This is not a scientific study and I urge you to try this for yourself.

Here’s what I learned.

  • Licari: 2 cocktails, medium pizza, bottle of pinot noir = $74
  • Iovine: 2 cocktails, similar size pizza and a bottle of Valpolicella = $72

While both meals appear to be comparable the US version doesn’t take into account the tip. And at 20% that adds another $14 to the Licari bill. Therefore, eating a similar meal in Grand Rapids costs $88 to the Paris version of $72. 

This comparison doesn’t take into account those attributes that can’t be quantified: 

  • location (Paris vs Grand Rapids), eating in a bistro-like setting versus a large, loud room with TV monitors everywhere;
  • the quality of the service: the wait staff at Iovines spoke Italian and were clearly professional "waiters" while the manager at Licari’s didn’t even know what a digestivo was. 

Of course there are many places in Paris where it would cost several body parts to eat a meal. And there are many other restaurants where the service is lousy and the food mediocre. 

But it is has been our great, good fortune over the years to have successfully steered away from such dens of culinary iniquity. In fact, we have found many other places like Iovines which simply reaffirms our belief that American food is no cheaper than eating in Paris and often more so since you’re often getting a lower quality of service.

~ Steve Soper, Lille, France, 11 May 2018

AFGR Book Club

Our next book club meeting is May 15 at 5:30pm at Schuler Books on 28th Street in Grand Rapids and the selection is The Mistress Of Paris: The 19th-Century Courtesan Who Built an Empire on a Secret by Catherine Hewitt, the story of  19th century Parisian courtesan Comtesse Valtesse de la Bigne. For more information contact Marijke Wiersema.

According to The New York Times Book Review, “A gorgeous, smart, ambitious, hard-working, steely autodidact and businesswoman whose product was herself, Valtesse would be totally at home in our self-branding society.” 

Detroit River Cruise and French History

AF Detroit chapter is offering a cruise along the Detroit river focusing on French history in eastern Michigan on June 24. The commentary is in French and English. For details visit the Alliance Française de Detroit. More information.

How well do you know Paris? Today we look at the 20th arrondissement.

WEB-Abelard_and_Heloise_monument_in_Pere_Lachaise_cemetery.jpg

1. For what reason were the remains of Moliére, La Fontaine, and the lovers Héloïse and Abélard transferred with great pomp to the Père-Lachaise cemetery in 1817?

A. The church refused to welcome these sordid characters in a parish cemetery or chapel.
B. Parisians wanted to see their favorite celebrities resting in the most prestigious of cemeteries.
C. To promote the new cemetery and attract “clients.”

2. What invention did Claude Chappe test on July 12, 1793, on the Belleville Hill, the highest point in Paris?

A. The bicycle brake.
B. The hot air balloon.
C. The telegraph.

3. What is the address of the Père-Lachaise Cemetery?
 
A. Passage d’Enfer (Hell’s Passage).
B. Rue du Paradis (Heaven’s Street).
C. Rue du Repos (Resting Street).

4. What was the nickname of the Parisian thugs who made the law on the streets of Belleville at the start of the 20th century?

A. Apaches.
B. Redskins.
C. Sioux.

5. What small-time occupation was practiced, at the beginning of the 20th century, at the gate of the Père-Lachaise Cemetery?

A. Dog-sitting.
B. The sale of tissues.
C. The recitation of prayers on demand.

Answers can be found at the end of the newsletter.

Travel in France: The Old Gothard Pass

Answers: 1. C, for promotional reasons; 2. C, telegraph; 3. C, rue du Repos; 4 A Apaches; 5. A, dog-sitting.