The fourth of July has come and gone, but don’t put away your red, white and blue just yet! Bastille Day, which commemorates the storming of the Bastille in 1789, is France’s national day of independence, and it’s right around the corner on Monday, July 14.
Whether you have French heritage in your family, or simply love the flaky, soft perfection of a warm croissant, this is a great time to embrace this rich culture here in America. And what better place than the melting pot of Los Angeles? If you live in Southern California, try out some of these French festivities nearby; if not, celebrate wherever you are with your francophile friends!
Go Out: Named for the famous avenue in Paris, Le Champs-Elysees, Elysee is a true taste of French cuisine and pastries. Located in the heart of Westwood Village, this quaint French pastry shop is the perfect place to get brunch in French fashion. For a traditional bite, try the Croque Monsieur, a popular grilled ham and cheese sandwich that can be found on every corner in Paris! Be sure to accompany your breakfast with a delicious cup of French coffee, and if you have a sweet tooth, try the Napoleon. Also called mille-feuille, this eponymous French pastry is said to have “one thousand leaves” of thin, flaky pastry, held together with rich, sweet cream. C’est parfait! (Other ideas: La Maison du Pain in mid-City, Maison Giraud in Pacific Palisades, and Chaumont in Beverly Hills)
Stay In: Not near Westwood? Host a French brunch in your own home, chez vous! Pain au chocolat, the French brother of the chocolate croissant, can be picked up or ordered from many bakeries in America, so find one near you and grab some for friends! Be sure to have coffee or tea with brunch, and for a truly French flare, use serving pieces from Christofle, Ercuis or Raynaud. Bon appetit!
Go Out: Many theaters in Los Angeles honor the intrigue of French culture through screenings of foreign films. In homage to the acclaimed French director, Michel Gondry, the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood is showing his latest film, Mood Indigo on July 14. Starring the stunning French beauty, Audrey Tatou, this surreal love story combines classic French romance with a deeply imaginative, fantastical twist. To become a member of American Cinematique, and show your appreciation for beautiful American and foreign cinema, visit their website here.
Stay In: Far from Hollywood? Invite over some friends for a French cinematic adventure of your own! Some famous French films that can be found in America include Amelie, La Vie En Rose, La Femme Nikita, Midnight in Paris, and Breathless. If you have trouble finding one of these incredible movies, try finding an American film with French actors! Some famous names that have graced the screens of both France and America include Gérard Depardieu, Juliette Binoche (think Chocolat with Johnny Depp!), Marion Cotillard and Catherine Deneuve.
Go Out: If you are looking for pure authenticity in French cuisine, then Taix (pronounced | ˈteks |) is the perfect place. With a rotating menu of French delicacies, this charming Echo Park restaurant and bar boasts exquisite plates passed down from generation to generation within the Taix family from southern France. If you go here, go all out. The escargot is divine, the frog’s legs are perfection, and the changing menu provides different specials for every day of the week. The staff welcomes and serves you with true French hospitality, and if you just can’t get enough, you can purchase your wine glasses to take home after your meal. Délicieux! (For more ideas, check out Eater L.A.’s Best French Restaurants in Los Angeles)
Stay In: If Echo Park is out of reach, try making a French-inspired meal at home! While French cuisine can be hard to master, there are some easy additions to your own cooking that can transform a simple dinner into a Parisian plate. Bread is essential to any French meal, so be sure to grab a baguette at your local grocery store or bakery. For that crusty exterior and warm, soft center, toss it in a 300 degree oven for about five minutes to heat it up, then hand-rip it into small pieces and serve in a French bread basket like this one from Couzon.
If you choose to serve chicken or soup, try adding a bouquet garni. Don’t be fooled by this French name; this is exactly what it sounds like: a bouquet, or bundle, of garnishes. Try combining rosemary, thyme, sage and marjoram for great French flavor. Add a bottle of French wine and some Edith Piaf tunes, and you may just confuse your own dining room for a Paris bistro!
And finally, celebrate with more French sweets, like a tarte tatin or a simple crème brûlée (for recipes, check out this guide from Saveur).
What are your plans for Bastille Day?
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