2021 in review: a year of French culture in Australia

Reading Time: 7 minutes

As we prepare to farewell 2021, we thought we’d take a look at the highlights of French culture in Australia this year on Matilda Marseillaise. We’ve had celebrations of French food and wine to art exhibitions, festivals and other events with French themes. We’ve interviewed people across many areas including international touring artists and local French and francophone people. Join us as we look back over 2021.


French culture in Australia: French Food days

Food is an extremely important part of French culture in Australia as much as in France. January was of course the month of the Galette des Rois which is always one of our most popular posts and has become the go-to resource for French and Francophiles in Australia to find out where they can buy this special cake around Australia.


We celebrated Croissant Day with a brief history of the croissant and again letting you know where you can buy croissants from French bakeries in Australia. Then we turned to a sweeter treat for Chocolate Truffle Day. Another day to indulge in all things cacao was World Chocolate Day.


We also wrote about Cheese Lovers’ Day for the first time with a focus on cheese subscriptions and celebrated Mouldy Cheese Day in October. As always, Christmas was celebrated with the Bûche de Noël.

French culture in Australia - food days


French culture in Australia: Drinks Days

You can’t have food without something to drink and we continued our French wine varietal series throughout the year with facts about the varietals and recommendations from French wine importers in Australia. We also celebrated World Bartenders Day with French cocktails.


We looked at French spirits and liqueurs: Chartreuse Day with a look at the history of the green drink and a day celebrating another often-green drink: Absinthe Day. In addition, we discovered strong French links in one of the most popular spirits of the moment: gin. We also celebrated another spirit that you probably don’t associate with France: vodka.


Champagne and sparkling wine gave us moments of celebration throughout 2021 with various festivals: Sparkling Fest, Bubbles Festival, Taste Champagne, Effervescence Tasmania.

French drinks days


French culture in Australia during Festival time

Australia’s borders were still shut due to COVID-19 so festival time didn’t feature any international acts in 2021. 2021 highlights instead were French themed shows or shows from artists with French links at Adelaide Fringe, Adelaide Festival and Sydney Festival. These provided opportunities to enjoy French culture in Australia.


Particularly strong French links were found in performances at Adelaide Fringe including music in different styles, theatre and more. The White Mouse told the story of Australian French Resistance leader, Nancy Wake. Louise Blackwell and the Paris Set took us to Paris for the night.


By the time June came, Adelaide Cabaret Festival was able to bring in a few international acts including Brent Ray Fraser, who paints with a very unique and personal tool. Kim David Smith gave a strong nod to Marlene Dietrich with his show Mostly Marlene also at Adelaide Cabaret Festival.


Auburn in South Australia’s Clare Valley was transformed into a French village and a celebration of French culture in Australia for a weekend at the inaugural Auburn Frenchfest, which will return in 2023.


Le Festival was held over 4 separate events throughout the year, bringing 4 weekends of French joy to Brisbane.

French culture in Australia - festivals


French and francophone culture in Australia: National Days

We celebrated (even if virtually for some) the national days of a number of Francophone countries: Canada Day, Bastille Day, Belgian National Day and Swiss National Day as well as Alsace Fan Day.


French culture in Australia via exhibitions

Fortunately, COVID-19 didn’t stop international works of art coming to Australia. Exhibition highlights included a number of exciting exhibitions with French links including: French Impressionism: From the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Camille Henrot: is Today Tomorrow, and She-oak and sunlight: Australian impressionism.


Most recently the NGV opened the Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto exhibition and the Art Gallery of New South Wales opened its Matisse: Life and Spirit.


An international exhibition of a different scale and type, Van Gogh Alive also toured in 2021 and continues to tour Australia. Our Hearts are Still Open, a photographic exhibition and book were recently unveiled in Sydney and we chatted to Australian-born photojournalist Tony Maniaty about them.

French culture in Australia / la culture française en Australie


French and francophone film

The Alliance Française French Film Festival returned to the big screen in March and April 2021. Highlights for us included Bye Bye MoronsMiss among those that we reviewed. Countless others were also enjoyed. Because of COVID-19 lockdowns throughout Europe for much of 2020, Australian audiences were the first to see a number of films shown at the AFFFF 2021 including Eiffel and Delicious. We interviewed incoming Artistic Director of the festival, Karine Mauris.


One of our most read film reviews this year was for a film which is now on SBS on Demand: Roxane. With most of the Eastern states in lockdown over several months of the year, our articles about previous festival films available on streaming services were also well-read.


French and francophone films also featured at the Jewish International Film Festival and at the Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney Film Festivals.


French culture in Australia via music

We interviewed Sydney music duo Goldfynch on the occasion of their release of the beautiful escapist song “Ballooning over Paris” something we all longed to do with Australia’s closed borders. Baby et Lulu’s much anticipated Album Trois was finally released and we chatted to Lara Goodridge.  Pauline Maudy of MZAZA toured her show “Take me to Paris” around Queensland.


Sticking with the musical theme, we also interviewed Elena Gabouri ahead of her performances in Opera Australia’s Aida in Sydney and in Melbourne. Nicolas Fleury, French horn player from Melbourne Symphony Orchestra chatted with us. On the theme of opera and classical music, Pinchgut Opera presented Platée for the very first time on Australian stages.


Our favourite French festival So Frenchy So Chic announced a return to Melbourne and Sydney in February 2022.

French culture in Australia/ la culture française en Australie


French culture in Australia via theatre

2021 saw the return of French theatre to Australian stages. Brisbane French Theatre presented its original play Us and Them. Perth French Theatre invited you to the circle of illusionists and after many false starts, Melbourne French Theatre was able to present its new show, The Candidate.


French culture in Australia in sport

The French Rugby team Les Bleus played 3 test matches against Australia’s Wallabies in Sydney and in Brisbane. We told you where you could watch them around Australia.


Other French happenings

Adelaide’s Les Deux Coqs in conjunction with Holdfast Bay City council started Rendezvous Market, a European Market with foods and crafts from many European countries being represented.


Glasshouse Fragrances’ launched a French inspired collection just in time for Bastille Day with delicious scents of Montmartre Macaron and Sacred Heart.


We made sure you knew your French (and Belgian) dogs from the imposters for International Dog Day in August.


In November, Sacreblue, the Embassy of France in Australia’s brand new website dedicated to French culture in English was launched and we were finally able to announce our partnership with them.

French culture in Australia/ la culture française en Australie



We interviewed cabaret singer Caroline Nin and director Craig Ilott about L’Hôtel, an immersive theatrical world of French intrigue which made its worldwide debut at Adelaide Cabaret Festival in June.


We interviewed a man who is perhaps Australia’s most famous French television chef, Gabriel Gaté for International Chefs Day.


One of the first international productions to visit Australia since COVID-19 struck and closed our borders in March 2020 was The Little Prince, direct from Marseille to the Sydney Opera House. We interviewed Chris Mouron who adapted the book for stage, Ebony Bott of the SOH about the logistics of bringing an international team to Australia, and staging a large show during COVID-19 times. The Little Prince is making a return to Sydney for a limited season of shows in early January – read our interview with Lionel Zalachas and Laurisse Sulty


We chatted to Michael Boyd, illusionist and also show director of Cabaret de Paris which started its Australian tour with new lead, Rhonda Burchmore.


We spoke to Australian author Pip Drysdale about her thrilling novel The Paris Affair.


Most recently, we chatted with Priscilla Doueihy ahead of her performances at Sydney Festival 2022 show 44 Sex Acts in One Week; Erin Helyard about piano and French composers ahead of Adelaide Festival 2022 shows Four Hands at the Érard and Evolution of the Piano.


French businesses in Australia

We published interviews with founders of French businesses promoting French culture in Australia including:


French culture in Australia/ la culture française en Australie

We supported local French businesses by getting them to contribute their recommendations for Christmas gifts for francophiles. When many of the Australian states went back into lockdown, we let you know where you could purchase French take-away food.


Sofitel Adelaide, its French restaurant Garçon Bleu, and street level champagne bar Déjà Vu, were long awaited additions to Adelaide’s 5-star hotel and dining scene.


The French Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry held events both virtual and in person, where permitted, throughout the year including the French ANZ Business Days 2021 business forum which covered a number of interesting and pertinent topics.


It’s been a busy year! What have your highlights been? Is there anything you’d like to see on Matilda Marseillaise in 2022?

Adelaide Festival 2022: 10 shows to see with French and francophone links

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Adelaide Festival 2022 is back to being an international festival with an impressive 10 shows with French and francophone links in the program. You’ll find opera, theatre, dance as well as classical, dance and hip-hop music. To find out more, read on.


The Golden Cockerel

FRENCH LINK: The opera is part of Adelaide Festival’s partnership with Festival d’Aix en Provence together with Opéra National de Lyon and Komische Oper Berlin in association with Adelaide Symphony Orchestra

Adelaide Festival 2022 - The Golden Cockerel
Image: Jean-Louis-Fernandez

This is a work by Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov which has never before been seen in Australia.


Adelaide Festival 2022’s opera is again directed by Barrie Kosky, who also directed other Adelaide Festival operatic centrepieces: Saul in 2017 and The Magic Flute in 2019.

Of The Golden Cockerel, Adelaide Festival says:

Half surreal fairy-tale, half political satire, it fell foul of Tsarist censors and poor Nikolai died with the voluptuous score of his imagination unheard. Premiering in 1909, it has become a key work of European operatic repertoire.

If you’re transported by Scheherazade, or Flight of the Bumble Bee, you’ll fall in love with this richly melodic, kaleidoscopic work, seemingly tailor-made for Kosky’s inimitable aesthetic.

4 performances: 4 March, 6 March, 8 March and 9 March


Ticket prices (exclusive of transaction fees):

  • Adults: $149 (C Reserve) to $319 (Premium)
  • Festival Friends: $127 (C Reserve) to $271 (Premium)
  • Concession (Pensioner, Health Care Card holder, MEAA member): $120 (C Reserve) to $199 (A Reserve)
  • Under 30 years old: $75 (C Reserve) to $100 (B Reserve)
  • Full time Student): $65 (C Reserve) to $90 (B Reserve)
  • For all: $69 (D Reserve)


Juliet & Romeo

FRENCH LINK: Solène Weinachter, the actress playing the role of Juliet, and who co-conceived the production, is French.

Adelaide Festival 2022 - Juliet and Romeo
Image: Tristram Kenton

A production from Lost Dog theatre company in Scotland, Juliet and Romeo tells the tale of the still-living couple as they find themselves in their 40s and the pressures of being the famous couple representative of romantic love. How do they decide to confront their troubles? By putting on a performance about themselves of course- despite the advice of their therapist.


The realities of marriage and mid-life anxieties are examined with tenderness and humour in Juliet & Romeo.

10 performances: 5-7 & 9- 12 March with matinees options on 6 and 12 March


Ticket prices (exclusive of transaction fees)

  • Adults: $59 (B Reserve) to $69 (A Reserve)
  • Festival Friends: $50 (B Reserve) to $59 (A Reserve)
  • Concession (Pensioner, Health Care Card holder, MEAA member): $47 (B Reserve) to $55 (A Reserve),
  • Under 30 years old: $30 (B Reserve) to $35 (A Reserve)
  • Full time students: $25 (B Reserve) to $30 (A Reserve)


The Rite of Spring/common ground[s]

FRENCH LINK: Some of the producers and co-producers are French/from Francophone countries: École des Sables; Théâtre de la Ville, Paris; and Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg. It was also co-produced by Adelaide Festival 2022 among others.

In addition, the dancers come from 12 nations including francophone African countries such as Senegal where the show was rehearsed.

Adelaide Festival 2022 - The Rite of Spring
Credit: Maarten Vanden Abeele

Two dancers, who met but never worked together, are linked through the score of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. Pina Bausch’s 1975 version is well-known. That of Germaine Acogny, dubbed ‘the mother of contemporary African dance’ is not, at least not to Australian audiences. Acogny perceived African foundations in the ancient Slavic rhythms of the score.


Salomon Bausch, son of the famous dancer has initiated a posthumous collaboration with a staging of Pina’s Rite of Spring performed by 38 dancers from 14 nations who rehearsed at Acogny’s École des Sables in Senegal. Its companion piece, common ground[s], is an antidote to violence of The Rite of Spring and is danced by Acogny herself along with Malou Airaudo, a founding member of Bausch’s company.


3 performances only: 4-6 March


Ticket prices (exclusive of transaction fees):

  • Adults: $59 (C Reserve) to $149 (Premium)
  • Festival Friends: $50 (C Reserve) to $127 (Premium)
  • Concession (Pensioner, Health Care Card holder, MEAA member): $47 (C Reserve) to $103 (A Reserve)
  • Under 30 years old: $30 (C Reserve) to $65 (A Reserve)
  • Full time students: $25 (C Reserve) to $60 (A Reserve)


Genesis Owusu 

FRENCH LINK: Genesis Owusu is Ghanian-Australian. Ghana is a francophone country

Adelaide Festival - Genesis Owusu

This 23 year-old Ghanian-Australian recently won 4 ARIA awards: album of the year, best hip hop release, best independent release and best cover art (with co-designer Bailey Howard) for Smiling With No Teeth at the 2021 ARIA Awards.


His music fuses jazz, hip hop, no wave and post-gospel soul.


One show only: 4 March 2022


Ticket prices (exclusive of transaction fees):

  • Reserved seating: $49
  • Under 30s: $34


Alternative Symphony: Daft Punk

FRENCH LINK: An orchestral show in tribute to French electronica duo Daft Punk

Alternative Symphony

Lose yourself to dance” with a night of Daft Punk hits performed by eclectic modern orchestral group Alternative Symphony. Expect to hear all of Daft Punk’s numerous hits as you’ve never heard them before with trumpets, horns strings, DJs, drums, live vocalists, MCs, and everything that opens and shuts. Plus it wouldn’t be a Daft Punk tribute without an elaborate light show as well, with wild graphics and perhaps an ornate robot helmet or two.


One show only: 19 March 2022


Ticket prices (exclusive of transaction fees):

  • Reserved seating $59
  • Under 30 years old $41


Prayer for the Living

FRENCH LINK: Features works by French prodigy Lili Boulanger, the first woman composer to win the Prix de Rome for composition when she was aged just 19, in 1913. It also highlights Poulenc’s Gloria.

Adelaide Festival - A Prayer for the Living

The ASO, conducted by Benjamin Northey and 100 professional and amateur voices from across Adelaide, will perform some of the most inspiring – and rarely heard – choral music of the past century.


Lili Boulanger wrote her works during World War I a few years before dying aged 24. Her 4 masterworks are rarely performed due to the vast orchestral and choral requirements. 3 are Psalms about exile and oppression whereas Old Buddhist Prayer “extends its gently radiant heart to all living things.”


Juxtaposed against Boulanger’s masterworks is Poulenc’s uplifting Gloria of 1960, which is devoid of posturing religiosity. Adelaide Festival describe Gloria as “[f]eaturing some of the most sublime writing for soprano ever, it’s a refreshingly human take on the Latin mass, mixing blazing optimism with playfulness and heartfelt supplication.”


One show only: 20 March


Ticket prices (exclusive of transaction fees):

  • Adults: $79 (B Reserve) to $99 (Premium)
  • Festival Friends: $67 (B Reserve) to $84 (Premium)
  • Concession (Pensioner, Health Care Card holder, MEAA member): $64 (B Reserve) to $72 (A Reserve)
  • Under 30 years old: $40 (B Reserve) to $45 (A Reserve)
  • Full time students: $35 (B Reserve) to $40 (A Reserve)


Chineke! Chamber Ensemble

French link: Armand Djikoloum, oboist in the ensemble is French and has studied at Conservatoire National Supérieur Musique et Danse de Lyon and with Philippe Tondre at the Hochschule für Musik Saar where he is completing his Masters. He has also taken masterclasses with Maurice Bourgue.

Mariam Adam, clarinettist in Chineke! was born in Monterey, California to an Egyptian father and a Mexican mother. She lives between New York and Paris.

Chineke! chamber ensemble
Image: Rhoda Lane

Chineke! is a platform for black and ethnically diverse musicians. It is the brainchild of Chi-Chi Nwanoku OBE, double bassist who has played in the top chamber and period instrument orchestras of London. The idea came to her upon watching a performance of the Kinshasha orchestra from the Congo playing classical music.


Across two different Adelaide Festival concerts, Chineke! ensemble’s wind, horn and string players will perform Schubert, Rheinberger, Martinu, Prokofiev and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor among others. Two new Australian commissions by Deborah Cheetham and William Barton will also be unveiled in world premieres


Chineke! Chamber ensemble has received overwhelming positive responses from their four visits to the BBC proms over recent years.


Two performances only: 16 and 17 March 2022


Ticket prices (exclusive of transaction fees):

  • Adults: $69 (B Reserve) to $109 (Premium)
  • Festival Friends: $59 (B Reserve) to $93 (Premium)
  • Concession (Pensioner, Health Care Card holder, MEAA member): $55 (B Reserve) to $72 (A Reserve)
  • Under 30 years old: $35 (B Reserve) to $40 (A Reserve)
  • Full time students: $30 (B Reserve) to $40 (A Reserve)


Evolution of the Piano

FRENCH LINK: Works by French composers: Charles-Valentin Alkan and Gabriel Urbain Fauré

Evolution of the Piano - Adelaide Festival 2022
Credit: Brett Boardman

Stephanie McCallum and Erin Helyard take you on a journey tracing the piano’s metamorphosis from a straight-strung instrument of great clarity and transparency to a cross-strung marvel of unified power and tone. An illustrated lecture contrasting short works on the twentieth-century Bösendorfer and the nineteenth-century Érard. Read our interview with Erin Helyard about his Adelaide Festival performances here




Trois grandes études, Op. 76
No.1 Etude pour la main gauche seule
Fantaisie in A-flat major
Etudes dans les tons majeurs, Op. 35
No.5 Allegro barbaro 
Esquisses, Op. 63
No.1 La vision
Preludes, Op. 31
La chanson de la folle au bord de la mer



Consolations (S 172)
No. 3 Lento placido



Excerpts from Dolly Suite



Excerpts from Trois pièces nègres


One show only: 14 March


Ticket prices (exclusive of transaction fees): $29 for all



FRENCH LINK: Debussy and Ravel are two French composers

Adelaide Festival 2022
Credit: Agatha Yim

Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel’s string quartets have long been compared to each other and for many decades were found on either side of a long-play record. This sold-out concert by the Australian String Quartet allows you to evaluate the similarities between the two works yourself.



Debussy (1862-1918)

String Quartet in G minor, Op. 10
Animé et très décidé
Assez vif et bien rythmé
Andantino, doucement expressif
Très modéré—En animant peu à peu—Très mouvementé et avec passion


Ravel (1875-1937)

String Quartet in F major
Allegro moderato
Assez vif, très rythmé
Très lent
Vif et agité

One show only: 12 March 2022


Ticket prices (exclusive of transaction fees):

  • Adults: $69
  • Festival Friends: $59
  • Concession (Pensioner, Health Care Card holder, MEAA member): $55


Four Hands at the Érard (SOLD OUT – JOIN THE WAITLIST)

FRENCH LINK: The works of French composers played on a restored French piano

French rarities and masterworks come together in this concert by Stephanie McCallum and Erin Helyard where they are played on an exceptional French piano. Lovingly restored by Dutch master Frits Janmaat: an original straight-strung 1853 Érard piano, loaned exclusively for performance at the Adelaide Festival by kind courtesy of Judith Neilson and Phoenix Central Park.




Petite Suite [16’]
En bateau: Andantino
Cortège: Moderato
Menuet: Moderato
Ballet: Allegro giusto



“Sons de cloches” from 10 Petites pieces [11′]
Le glas
Cloches du soir



Masques et Bergamasques [13’]
Overture: Allegro molto vivo
Menuet: Tempo di minuetto: allegretto moderato
Gavotte: Allegro vivo
Pastorale: Andantino tranquillo



Excerpts from 6 Pièces romantiques Op. 55 [8’]
Idyll arabe
Sérénade d’automne



Sonate de concert Op. 47 (arr. for four hands) [7’]


One show only: 13 March 2022


Ticket prices (exclusive of transaction fees):

  • Adults: $69
  • Festival Friends: $59
  • Concession (Pensioner, Health Care Card holder, MEAA member): $55

As you can see there are plenty of French and francophone links in the Adelaide Festival 2022 program. Which shows are you going to attend?



WHAT: Adelaide Festival 2022

WHEN: 4 to 20 March 2022

WHERE: Various venues across Adelaide including at Mount Barker

HOW: Purchase tickets via the links provided or view the entire Adelaide Festival program at https://www.adelaidefestival.com.au/

HOW MUCH: Ticket prices vary depending on the show and the seating chosen


For other events with French and francophone links, take a look at our what’s on in December article.



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Adelaide Festival 2022