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

 

Interviews 

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?

A year in wine: French wine varietal days of 2021

Reading Time: 5 minutes

We’ve celebrated a lot of French wine varietal days throughout 2021 for varietals that are well-known and some that are lesser-known. Join us as we take a look back through 2021 in wine.

A year in wine - French wine varietal days

 

JANUARY

There are no days in January dedicated to French wine varietals but New Year’s Day is also Bloody Mary Day – did you know the Bloody Mary was invented in a bar in Paris?

Bloody Mary Day

 

FEBRUARY

16th International Syrah Day – the day celebrating the grape known by many names which is also celebrated later in the year under its Shiraz moniker. There’s also an official facebook page celebrating the grape and its day.

French varietal days - Syrah Day

 

MARCH

13th International Riesling Day – celebrated on 13th March annually since 2019. This date is also known as Riesling’s birthday because 13 March 1435 is the date of an invoice which is the earliest documented date making reference to Riesling or Riesslingen as it was known in Germany – the heartland of Riesling –  at the time.

Riesling Day

 

APRIL

17th World Malbec Day – While very much a French grape, Argentina has made it its own and Wines of Argentina hose 17th April as World Malbec Day in recognition of the day, on which President Domingo Faustino Sarmiento of Argentina officially made it his mission to transform Argentina’s wine industry.

World Malbec Day - French varietal days

 

27th World Marselan Day – The date was chosen to honour the creator of the Marselan varietal , Paul Truel who was born on April 27, 1924.

Marselan Day

 

30th International Viognier Day – Australia’s Yalumba wines declared the last Friday in April to be International Viognier Day.

Viognier Day

 

MAY 

7th International Sauvignon Blanc Day is celebrated on the first Monday in May (but also by some on 24th April)

Sauvignon Blanc

 

9th National Moscato Day – a celebration of the grape and wines known as Muscat in France and not always sickly sweet like wines by the Moscato name.

International Moscato Day - French wine varietal days

 

17th Pinot Grigio Day – we took a look at this varietal by its French name, Pinot Gris.

Pinot Grigio Day - French wine varietal days

 

21st Chardonnay Day – the date changes each year as it is held on the Thursday before Memorial Day in the USA

Chardonnay Day

 

JUNE 

18th Drink Chenin Day – an initiative of Portland, Oregon winemakers Kate Norris and Thomas Monroe, #DrinkChenin Day celebrates what they call “the greatest white grape varietal on earth”. It’s held on the 3rd Saturday of June each year.

Drink Chenin Day

 

24th (and or 12th) Rosé Day is held on the 4th Friday in June each year (but also on 12th June).

Rosé Day

 

JULY FRENCH WINE VARIETAL DAYS

22nd Shiraz Day – this was the 2nd annual Shiraz Day which is held on the 4th Friday in July. We took a look at this varietal by its French name, syrah.

International Shiraz Day

 

AUGUST FRENCH WINE VARIETAL DAYS

18th International Pinot Noir Day – a day celebrating one of the oldest grapes – Pinot Noir is 1000 years older than Cabernet Sauvignon! It is held on 18th August each year.

International Pinot Noir Day

 

30th International Cabernet Day  – Cabernet Sauvignon gets its annual celebration on 30th August but for some the Thursday before Labor Day in the USA where the day originated.

Cabernet Day

 

SEPTEMBER FRENCH WINE VARIETAL DAYS

17th International Grenache Day – Grenache is celebrated on the 3rd Friday in September each year.

International Grenache Day

 

OCTOBER FRENCH WINE VARIETAL DAYS

22nd Champagne Day – Comité Champagne have declared that the 4th Friday in October shall be #ChampagneDay. This year we spoke about the types, styles and key champagne terms. As always, we shared recommendations from French wine importers. This is perhaps one of the most popular and celebrated French wine varietal days.

 

28th International Carignan Day – held on the last Thursday each October, this is one of the lesser-known French wine varietals, Carignan. While the grape is thought to have its origins in the North-Western Spanish region of Aragon, this grape is also found in the South of France, in the Languedocian regions of Aude, Gard and Héraul.

 

NOVEMBER FRENCH VARIETAL DAYS

18th Beaujolais Nouveau – celebrated on the 3rd Thursday of November each year, the day heralds the arrival of the new wine from the latest vintage. With COVID-19, there wasn’t any Beaujolais Nouveau 2021 in Australia so we expanded the celebration of the day to include Beaujolais and Gamay.

Beaujolais Nouveau - French wine varietal days

 

24th Carménère Day – a day celebrating a French varietal you may not have heard of – it was thought to be extinct for a long time. It’s held on the 24th November each year.

Carménère Day - French wine varietal days

 

DECEMBER FRENCH WINE VARIETAL DAYS

4th International Cabernet Franc Day – a day celebrating the grape and wines which are often seen as the feminine version of the more masculine cabernet sauvignon. Held on the 4th each year.

International Cabernet Franc Day - French wine varietal days

 

16th Pinot Meunier Day – while we didn’t publish an article for this day, it’s worth mentioning that this Pinot Meunier Day is celebrated on the 16th each year.

Pinot Meunier Day

Which French wine varietal days do you celebrate? Cheers to another year of French wine!

 

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