Jour de gloire arrives sans snails

21:56, Jul 15 2014
Bastille Day
Bon appetit: French natives Valentin Sauer, left, and Sophie Lefebvre invited Palmerstonians to share their food and culture at yesterday’s Bastille celebrations.

Palmerston North residents got a taste of France at Bastille Day celebrations.

Forty French ex-pats, students and Francophiles joined in a dinner at Cafe Royale yesterday to celebrate the national day.

French language teacher and organiser Sophie Lefebvre said it was a great opportunity to share her nation's culture with Palmerston North.

"It's a way to put the French culture in front of people. When people learn another language, it's not only the language that's important, it's the culture."

The French national holiday is usually observed with military parades, balls, communal meals and performances.

The best known festive event is probably the fireworks display that lights up the Parisian sky around the Eiffel Tower every year.


Organised by Alliance Francaise of Palmerston North, the dinner featured French cuisine and a quiz on the country's culture and current events. Lefebvre said sharing her country's delicacies was the best way to acknowledge the day away from home.

"We just wanted to do a pot luck but [Cafe Royale] came and asked if we wanted to do something and we said why not?"

The menu for the night was Kiwi-friendly and offered diners a choice of galettes for the main meal and crepes, served with New Zealand's Kapiti icecream, for dessert.

Lefebvre said it was better to stay away from snails and frogs.

"Not everyone will like that. When we talked about the meal we thought why not crepes, because everyone loves crepes."

Cafe Royale's own French chef, Valentin Sauer, said although the crepe was not the most iconic of French dishes, it was a good way to introduce people to the cultural tastes.

"They're pretty much a big deal here, people seem to really like them."

He made 100 of the flat pancakes for last night's event.

The holiday commemorates the storming of Bastille Prison, marking the start of the French Revolution in 1789.

Manawatu Standard