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?

Get your French fix at the Auburn Frenchfest next month 

Reading Time: 11 minutes

After an idea by Jean Marc Spiler and Steven Oppes of popular Adelaide band Les Flâneurs Volants, a local committee was formed which has worked hard to create a brand new French festival, the Auburn Frenchfest. The festival will take place this September in Auburn in South Australia’s beautiful Clare Valley.

Auburn Frenchfest

The inaugural Auburn Frenchfest has an impressive line-up of 29 events across art, market, food and wine, language, music, theatre, circus acrobatics, pétanque, workshops and even some French vintage cars on show!




Floral workshop

Begin the day with approximately 90 minutes of playing and creating with seasonal flowers to make a beautiful floral crown to wear! All materials, tools and tuition provided. This delightful relaxing workshop is scheduled to allow participants to joyously attend the Long Lunch adorned with their festive floral headpiece.


French Fusion – Linhay Gallery

An eclectic group of Artists both local and from further afield were invited to reflect upon the ways in which Auburn demonstrates similarities with country areas of France.

Some have visited France on holidays, others have travelled and studied at ‘French Art School’ with Jacqueline Coates, a well-known Kapunda artist. All have been inspired to create artwork that reflects their experiences in France or areas of Auburn that remind them of France.


This exhibition is open not only on the weekend of Auburn Frenchfest but also the two weekends that follow.


La Lumière. An Exhibition of Oil Paintings by Auburn Based Artist, Nona Burden

The French Impressionists were interested in conveying their experience of light, and its effect on the world around them.


Without light, we cannot experience the world visually. We cannot see forms or colour. Although not painted in an Impressionistic style, these works share similar concerns.


Auburn Frenchfest - impressionism

What is French Impressionist Painting? 

Nona Burden is an established artist with an extensive exhibition and teaching history. She is a former Lecturer in Painting at Adelaide Central School of Art, and now bases her art practice in Auburn .


In her talk, Nona will discuss the significance of the late 19th Century French Impressionism Art Movement within the history of painting. In its time it was considered to be extremely radical. How does it fit in today?


Auburn Frenchfest

Photographic Exhibition: Through the Lens

Be absorbed by the beauty of Auburn and surrounds as you get taken on a natural journey through photographs by Asha Zappone. French details come alive in the valley and the town of Auburn, and the vibes flow through this small bustling town. Whilst the sun reflects off the majestic vineyards, the birds sing, beautiful Auburn comes alive.


As you embark on your journey through the town, thirteen year old photographer Asha Zappone will take you on a tour of landscapes and wildlife ‘Through the Lens!’


The exhibition is free and will not be a ticketed event, however, entry limits may be applied due to COVID restrictions. This exhibition is open not only on the weekend of Auburn Frenchfest but also the two weekends that follow.



A chat with Fiona McIntosh

Renowned local author, Fiona McIntosh will share with you her French inspirations for her novels.A dynamic and engaging speaker, come and be inspired to delve more into the world of writing.



Auburn Frenchfest market

Meet local makers and browse local products such as wine, olives, oil, dukkha, soaps, body products, artworks, honey all whilst enjoying French cuisine to keep your belly full and listening to live French music by Trio Montagne to lighten the soul. Support them as they busk and add that carnival feeling to the main street of Auburn.


Then venture outside, to experience the Food trucks and other pop up stalls… enjoy your produce in the park, while watching the happenings in the Le Marquee or the performances by Circobats.



Wine and Cheese trail – Pick up your cheese hamper, at your leisure from a designated pick up spot (between 10am-2pm on Saturday or Sunday), and wander the village of Auburn, indulging in tasting wines, while enjoying your French cheeses and condiments.

Each hamper will feed 2 people.


  • Cheese Hamper Only: $35
  • Cheese and Wine Trail [includes 2 x souvenir wine glasses and free tastings]: $55
  • Wine Glass Only [tasting conditions as per wineries]: $10/glass

Crepe making workshops – Learn how to make perfect French crepes in the Auburn Frenchfest workshops running both Saturday and Sunday of the festival.


Auburn Frenchfest

Long Lunch Finale

Say Au Revoir to the Auburn Frenchfest at Hillsview Estate with wonderful food in a country setting that will have you thinking you are in a small village in France.


Ticket will include a wonderful multi-course French inspired menu, a spot of entertainment and French music. Dietary requirements can be considered. Classic wines from Taylors Wines and Ulster Park Wines will be available for purchase.




Fun French Class

Come and meet the team of Alliance Française of Adélaïde to learn the essentials of French as well as the do’s and don’ts for your future trips. Lessons run for 20 minutes.

Presenters: Sarah Zaglia and Arnaud Benassy

Interactive Swearing in French class

After sold out shows and five-star reviews at the Adelaide Fringe in Talk Dirty, Stay Classy, the irrepressible Arnaud Benassy is back! READ OUR REVIEW OF THE ADELAIDE FRINGE SHOW 2019 HERE


Come and join So French, So Naughty for a night of laughter as you learn ALL (well, most) of your favourite swear words in French. Shows are loud, rude, and hilariously fun. Produced by Sips and Giggles.



Cabaret: Marseille que j’aime

A cabaret/café-théâtre performance based around the hugely successful 1930s plays of Marcel Pagnol and the complementary, contemporary operettas of Vincent Scotto/René Sarvil.


The characters of the Marseille waterfront come to life in this entertaining series of vignettes, extracts and songs performed by Panache, Adelaide French Theatre, Adelaide’s only French-language theatre group. To be performed in French with English subtitles.


Louise Blackwell workshop of French song of the 20th Century

Chante! Chante! Chante! workshop of French song of the 20th Century

Louise Blackwell leads this workshop looking at some classic French songs with a focus on their storytelling.


This will include a look at the songwriter and the background of their song in a period of social change, with a translation of the text and a jolly good singalong that will bring the poetry and images in the song to life. Featuring:

  • Le poinçonneur des Lilas by Serge Gainsbourg
  • La Bicyclette by Yves Montand
  • Chanson pour l’Auvergnat by Georges Brassens


Chantons ensemble – let’s sing together – singing workshop

This workshop will present well-known French children’s songs that relate stories- such as “Il était un Petit Navire”, “A la Claire Fontaine”.


There will be animated videos of the songs with the words, preceded by explanations in English. Printed versions of the songs will also be available. Many of the songs use repetition, making them easy to sing.


Auburn Frenchfest Coro Quarto

Coro Quarto: Il est bel et bon

Coro Quattro was formed in 2018 by a group of friends who like to share the joy of singing four-part harmony pieces. In the beautiful Our Lady of the Peace church, Coro Quattro will give a wonderful performance of French music singing mostly unaccompanied French music ranging from Renaissance madrigals (e.g. Ce moys de mai, Belle qui tiens ma vie) to the superb vocal quartets of Debussy and Saint-Saens through to modern and jazz standards (e.g. Autumn Leaves, Michelle).


La Grande Chorale

Noted Adelaide singing coach and choir leader Stella Panozzo will lead a community singalong at Aubrun Frenchfest. Stella has over 25 years’ experience as a teacher, singer, pianist and musical director. Many of her singing students now have professional careers as performers and teachers


Join in with a couple of best loved songs of French diva, Edith Piaf…La Vie en Rose and Non, je ne regrette rien.


A working knowledge of French or tonsorial splendour NOT required. Just come with your enthusiasm and perhaps a few dramatic arm flourishes and a fun time is guaranteed.


Stella has over 25 years’ experience as a teacher, singer, pianist and musical director. Many of her singing students now have professional careers as performers and teachers in various musical styles, including Musical Theatre, Opera, and Contemporary Commercial Music.


Auburn FrenchfestLe Grand Ensemble

A concert of French Classical composers performed by local musicians at Auburn Frenchfest.


Coordinated by Elder Conservatorium trained local musician Leonie Moore, Le Grande Ensemble consists of members of the woodwind section of the Nurioopta Town Band, joined by musicians from Balaklava and further afield, performing works by Debussy, Ravel, Faure, Bizet and Gounod.


The concert will feature local woodwind players, solo piano and harp, as well as a small family string ensemble, playing well-known and loved items by Classical French composers.


Les Flaneurs Volants – Le Best of

Drawing on material from the French diaspora and lifetimes immersed in French culture, Les Flâneurs Volants presents songs, stories and fun from around the French world.


Le Best Of! draws on the best of Les Flâneurs Volants’ sold out Fringe 20 & 21 shows. READ OUR REVIEW OF THE 2021 SHOW HERE – Featuring the love misadventures of their invented character Jacques and introduces new material that sees the band mashing English and French with riotous effect.


Les Gitans Blancs

Les Gitans Blancs will perform at The Marquee, showcasing french jazz of the 30s-50s, manouche Romany music and Eastern European traditional music.

Workshop: Introduction to the basic Manouche Swing / Gypsy Jazz

Manouche Swing or Gypsy Jazz is known to many through the music of early exponents. These include Django Reinhardt, Stéphane Grappelli and the Hot Club of France.The music style is evocative of Paris of the 30s-50s but continues to develop in Europe and beyond.


Les Gitans Blancs present this workshop which features demonstrations highlighting the basic elements that characterize the genre, such as la pompe and the distinctive melodies. The fascinating history and contemporary development of the phenomenon will be discussed.


Workshop: Laissez le bon temps rouler: music of the French diaspora

Laissez le bon temps rouler….let the good time roll, a term coined by the Cajuns, French speakers of Louisiana.


Along with their language the French settlers of the Americas and the Caribbean brought their instruments and music. Isolation from France and influences from settlers from other parts of the Europe saw the music develop its own distinctive character in the various regions settled.


Les Flâneurs Volants, French group and Auburn Frecnhfest organisers, present this workshop which will feature examples of the French music of Quebec, Cajun and Creole Louisiana and Guadeloupe. The journey of the French settlers and the development of the music will be discussed. Participants will also have the opportunity to join in with a singalong.


Louise Blackwell and the French Set - Auburn FrenchfestLouise Blackwell and the French Set: A Night in Paris

Louise Blackewell, a talented Adelaide singer is accompanied once again by her fabulous band comprising some of Adelaide’s finest musicians Mark Simeon Ferguson on piano, John Aué on double bass, Julian Ferraretto on violin and Josh Baldwin on drums.


Together they perform beautiful arrangements of a finely selected, ever-evolving repertoire of songs by French artists such as Léo Ferré, Georges Brassens, Jacques Brel, Barbara, Edith Piaf, Serge Gainsbourg, Jean Constantin, Juliette Gréco, Yves Montand and even Italian jazz-pop figure Paolo Conte, so beloved by the French and adopted into Parisian culture. READ OUR REVIEW OF THE 2021 FRINGE SHOW HERE.


Louise recreates an authentic Parisian vibe as she tells stories of this city where she lived and was once inhabited by legends of the cabaret. Louise aspires to take us there and recreate magical moments from this Parisian cultural legacy!




Circobats - Auburn FrenchfestCircobats circus performance and workshop

An Adelaide-based circus, Circobats will be performing and delivering workshops as part of the Auburn Frenchfest. Fun for all ages, welcoming children and adults who want to learn, develop and enhance their skills in the circus arts.


Auburn Frenchfest - Encore! 500 Years of French TheatreEncore! 500 Years of French Theatre

A performance by Panache, Adelaide French Theatre, of excerpts from major French plays from the 17th to the 21st century.


The rich tradition of French theatre has never failed to please and delight audiences. They have chosen scenes memorable for their comedy and human interest to give a brief overview of the best French theatre has to offer. Excerpts from Molière, Beaumarchais (Le Mariage de Figaro), Rostand (Cyrano de Bergerac), Ionesco (La Cantatrice Chauve) and J-M Ribes (Théâtre sans animaux). To be performed in French with English surtitles. READ OUR INTERVIEW WITH THE FOUNDERS OF PANACHE ABOUT ONE OF THEIR PREVIOUS PERFORMANCES HERE


Auburn FrenchfestOf Auburn

Of Auburn is a theatre production depicting the World War 1 experiences of women through personal diaries, poetry and song.


The dramatisation weaves the life and poetry of CJ Dennis together with the narration of Madge Yeatman, volunteer nurse in the Great War. Both Dennis and Yeatman started life in the gentle cradle that was Auburn in the Clare Valley in the later part of the 19th century.


The evocative wartime images of Frank Hurley and AW Savage together with powerful French songs express the anxieties, sorrows and hopes that women feel through war.


Music will be performed live by the fabulous Minnie Little Trio and feature some gorgeous French songs: Maman attend le Facteur, Le Soldat, Temps de Cerises, Gottingen and more as well as some original material.


See the play’s website here for more info: https://ofauburn.com and follow Of Auburn on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ofauburn


Auburn FrenchfestPuppet show:  Le Petit Chaperon Rouge/Les Trois Petits Cochons (Little Red Riding Hood/Three Pigs)

This free event is for the children, and those young at heart!


The cast of Panache, Adelaide French Theatre, will perform two marionette performances of the classic stories of Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs. Narrated in English, with dialogue in French, and plenty of audience interaction.



Pétanque ‘Come and try‘

Come and try Pétanque as part of the Auburn Frenchfest!



French car display

Visit the French Car Display on Saturday and be a part of All French Cars Day on the Sunday. The French Amil car turns 100!


The inaugural Auburn Frenchfest has an impressive line-up particularly for a 1st festival! Which activities are you interested in?


WHAT: Auburn French Festival

WHEN: 10-12 September 2021

WHERE: various locations in Auburn, Clare Valley, South Australia

MORE INFO AND TICKETS: https://www.clarevalley.com.au/whats-on/auburn-frenchfest/

PRICE: Depends on the individual performance or workshop. Many of the activities and performances are free but for COVID-19 monitoring reasons, you will need to register for a ticket.




Enter your email to subscribe to new article notifications about all things French and francophone in Australia