France

Fete France's independence with ptanque, Eurodisco and charcuterie. Ooh la la!

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  • Photograph: Ania Gruca

    Cobble Hill Bastille Day; Photograph by Ania Gruca

  • Photograph: Ania Gruca

    Cobble Hill Bastille Day; Photograph by Ania Gruca

  • Bastille Day on 60th Street; Photograph by Antoine Donzeaud

  • Bastille Day on 60th Street; Photograph by Antoine Donzeaud

  • Bastille Day on 60th Street; Photograph by Antoine Donzeaud

  • Bar Boulud; Photograph by E. Laignel

  • Bar Boulud; Photograph by E. Laignel

  • Films on the Green

  • French Culinary Institue

Photograph: Ania Gruca

Cobble Hill Bastille Day; Photograph by Ania Gruca

PARTY LIKE THE FRENCH

On Sunday 12, join the mob storming the streets of Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, for the seventh annual Bastille Day Party on Smith Street (Smith St between Bergen and Pacific Sts, 718-852-0328). The main drag will be covered in sand to create makeshift courts for North America’s largest tournament of ptanque, the French version of bocce. From noon to 9pm, watch 88 international teams compete, groove to live jazz, and sip anise-flavored pastis and citrusy Lillet aperitifs ($5 each) as you hobnob with French expats (one of Nicolas Sarkozy’s sons dropped by two years ago). “I think it’s much more powerful here because we’re so far from home,” says Georges Forgeois, owner of cohost Bar Tabac and a native of Avignon. So powerful that this year he decided to host a second festival on Tuesday 14 (Bastille Day proper) just outside his Tribeca restaurant, Cercle Rouge (241 West Broadway between Beach and White Sts; 212-226-6252, cerclerougeresto.com). Expect more ptanque, a foosball tournament and a rumored appearance by Alsatian chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

Clearly the French possess joie de vivre, because the festivities don’t stop there. Spanning three city blocks, Bastille Day on 60th Street (E 60th St between Fifth and Lexington Aves; bastilledaynyc.com; Sun 12 noon--6pm) is New York’s largest public fete celebrating le quatorze juillet. Browse French-themed market stalls, pair wine and cheese at the French Institute Alliance Franaise, and catch performances by cancan dancers, crooner Josphine and DJ Indaloh.

If drinking and dancing the day away is more your speed, check out t d’Amour (Sundays through Sept 6 1pm--1am; etedamour.com), a free Sunday dance party at the Hotel on Rivington Penthouse (107 Rivington St between Essex and Ludlow Sts, 212-475-2600). The “sunset celebration,” hosted by Parisian party promoters Respect Is Burning, features DJs from France spinning modern disco and house.

EAT LIKE THE FRENCH


With a Gallic bistro on every other street corner and more famed French chefs than we can count (Payard! Ripert! Ducasse!), it’s near impossible to pledge allegiance to just one spot. But for house-made charcuterie, we must tip our berets to Bar Boulud (1900 Broadway at 64th St; 212-595-0303, danielnyc.com), Lyon native Daniel Boulud’s casual eatery, which pairs the terrines and pates of Parisian charcutier Gilles Verot with wines from Burgundy and the Rhone Valley.

If you thought it was mandatory for French food to be complicated and expensive, head to Zucco (188 Orchard St between E Houston and Stanton Sts; 212-677-5200), a crowded caf with Laissez-faire service that models its menu after the truck stops along France’s Routes Nationale. The croque-madame with fries ($11) and the tender Angus shell steak topped with creamy peppercorn sauce ($22.50) are good and inexpensive for French fare.

BE CULTURED LIKE THE FRENCH

Pick up works by Proust, Molire and Camus—all en franais—at the Librairie de France (610 Fifth Ave between 49th and 50th Sts; 212-581-8810, frencheuropean.com), a family-owned bookstore that was among the first retail tenants in Rockefeller Center, in 1935. Sadly, because its yearly rent has been hiked up to $1 million, the Librairie will say au revoir this September, so head over there fast.

Not all French cabaret resembles Moulin Rouge or Le Chat Noir. Evidence: BlueNefertiti’s Paris@Night, a mlange of soul, house, hip-hop, blues and jazz performed by Clia Faussart at Zinc Bar (82 W 3rd St between Sullivan and Thompson Sts; 212-477-9462, zincbar.com), every first Thursday of the month. You might recognize the chanteuse’s voice as one half of the Grammy-nominated group Les Nubians.


For the second year running, the free outdoor movie festival Films on the Green (Tompkins Square Park, frenchculture.org; Fri 8:30--11pm) will screen French flicks every Friday at sunset through July (except July 31). Indoors, you can continue to catch French cinema at CinmaTuesdays (French Institute Alliance Franaise, Florence Gould Hall, 55 E 59th St between Madison and Park Aves; 212-355-6100, fiaf.org; $10), which highlights different themes and tributes (June and July are devoted to the work of French actor Michel Piccoli).

Fulfill your Julia Child aspirations by taking a recreational course at the French Culinary Institute (462 Broadway at Grand St; 888-908-2783, internationalculinarycenter.com/rec). Upcoming classes include Classic Croissants (July 25 10am--2pm; $195) and Parisian Breads (Sept 22--24 5:30--9:30pm; $675); before you know it, you’ll be a regular boulanger.

FUN FACTS

* Famous French expats who make New York their home include France’s former first lady Ccilia Sarkozy Attias and director-screenwriter Michel Gondry.

* An estimated 52,500 French people live in New York City, and nearly half are dual nationals.

* L’Afterworks and French Tuesdays are two networking groups that host biweekly events for people who want to meet and speak in their native tongue over cocktails.

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