If I lived in Boston ... I would be a member of the French Cultural Center


When you visit a city, do you find yourself imagining what it would be like to live there? It's what I do whenever I'm in Boston. I daydream about early morning breakfasts of pancakes smothered with maple syrup and eggs nestled next to strips of crispy bacon at Trident Booksellers and Cafe. I'd sit on a barstool at the counter and my meal would magically appear. The eggs would be sunny side up because the waitress knows that's exactly how I like them. We would chat about the latest happenings on Newbury Street and local politics while she refills my mug with steaming hot coffee. Other customers would chime in with a joke or a contentious comment because Bostonians relish lively discussions. My days would be full of museum visits, shopping at the nearby farmers' market and auditing courses at the local universities. Just as the sun starts to set, I would stroll through the Boston Common to listen to the soulful songs of the street musicians.

When I feel homesick for Paris, I would go to Boston's thriving French Cultural Center. Visitors are assured of a welcoming "Bonjour!" as soon as they step through the front door of the stately Victorian mansion. After practicing my French with the receptionist, I would settle into a leather chair underneath the bust of Marianne, the national emblem of France, to catch up on the current news in Le Figaro or the witty political satire in Le Canard enchaîné. Afterwards, I would wander upstairs to the largest private French library in New England to peruse the stacks laden with fiction and non-fiction books. If it was a rainy day and I needed something to pass the time indoors, I would check out some of the latest French movies or CDs.

The children's collection of French books.

Musings about my imaginary life in Boston intensified after "liking" the French Cultural Center's Facebook page last year. Scrolling through my newsfeed, I'll find myself getting excited about an upcoming event, such as Le Bal de Saint Germain des Prés or the French Wine Scholar Program, only to be disappointed when I realize that it's happening in Boston and not Paris. Perhaps one of these years, I'll join the thousands of other Francophiles who gather on Marlborough Street on July 14 for a huge block party that is reputed to be one of the largest Bastille Day celebrations in the United States. With live music, dancing in the street, food and wine, it's the ideal way to exalt liberty, equality and fraternity.

If I lived in Boston ... I would definitely be a member of the French Cultural Center. Many thanks to my friend Carolyn for first taking me there in August 2012 and to Stefanie, one of the receptionists, for answering my questions about the center during my last visit.

French Cultural Center and Alliance Française
53 Marlborough St.
Boston, Massachusetts

With branches in the USA and 137 countries around the world, there's a good chance that there's an an Alliance Française near you. Please click here for additional information.

The kitchen where Julia Child taught cooking classes for members of the French Cultural Society. 

Comments

  1. oh it's really just about your stalking Julia Child! I know it.

    Any hoot, I'm glad you're back, this is a well-written, nice entry. Good voice and information. The break did you good.

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    1. You know me too well, Joseph. One of the first questions that I asked the receptionist was if they had a photo of Julia Child teaching a class at the French Cultural Center! Isn't the kitchen great? I can easily imagine Julia making her famous Beef Bourgogne or Onion Soup there.

      Thanks for your feedback on the post! It's one that I really struggled over because my mind is still foggy from jetlag. I'm happy to hear that you're back on your regular sleep schedule after your trip to the Philippines!

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  2. I've never been, but maybe it'd be a good place to go to find things to prepare for my trip...is everything in only French? Or is there some French phrase you must use to get in? :)

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    1. You beat me to it! I was just writing you an email suggesting that you go to the French Cultural Center to prepare for your upcoming trip. They offer student memberships for $70. Otherwise, you can pay a one-time fee for many of their events. I'm sorry that I didn't think to tell you about Le Bal de Saint Germain des Prés on April 2.

      Sorry but I don't know if all of their materials are in French. I think that the DVDs may be in French with English subtitles but I really don't know. The only French word that you need to know is "Bonjour" because that's how they greet everyone who walks through the front door. After that you can switch to English!

      If Stefanie is at the reception desk when you go, she'll also be able to give you some good advice because she studied abroad in Paris.

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    2. Bonjour Bridget!

      Le Bal de Saint Germain des Prés is actually on MAY 2nd so there's still stime if you were thinking about attending! Just to let you know...most of our materials (books, CDs, DVDs) are in French but for DVD's there is almost always the option to add English subtitles.

      Feel free to stop by and take a look around!

      Stefanie

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  3. If it helps, I'm sure many of the people attending their events are jealous of your Parisian life too! And kudos if you can understand the witty political satire, I would be utterly lost.

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    1. I don't understand much of the witty political satire either but thought that I would embellish a bit since I was daydreaming anyway! ;)

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  4. I love it that you get excited about their news feeds (I do the same of the Alliance Francaise in NY, which still sends me emailed updates of their movie schedule and book readings).

    As for that mirror over the mantle, do you suppose they stole a patrimoine mirror?

    Very glad you don't live in Boston!

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    1. It's funny that you mention the mirror because it really caught my attention, especially since it's in the children's room!

      I'll have to tell my daughter to check out the Alliance Francaise in NY. It sounds like they have lots of interesting events, too.

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  5. Good to have you back on line Mary Kay. Thanks for the post. I have included here, a link to the Alliance Francaise in Melbourne for your interest; the best place in town to whet the appetite for a return visit to France: http://www.afmelbourne.com.au/

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    1. Thanks, Baron - it feels good to be back online! Oddly enough, I've been keeping tabs on the Alliance Francaise in Melbourne because Judy McMahon, the founder of My French Life, occasionally posts information about their events on Facebook. Thanks for including the link for their website!

      I hope that all is well Down Under. It's still rainy and cloudy in Paris, although there are rumors that the sun will make an appearance on Sunday.

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