Tag Archives: TV5 Destination Francophonie

Learn French in Montpellier!

This student city in the South of France is one of the country’s best kept secrets. One of the few in the sunny South without a Roman or Greek foundation, Montpellier is the 8th largest city in France and the fastest growing over the past 25 years. Home to the University of Montpellier, one of the oldest in the world, the metropolis also boasts a handful of Grands-Écoles in science and business.

Water Tower, Promenade du Peyrou, jessicasfranglais.com

Water Tower, Promenade du Peyrou, jessicasfranglais.com

Last summer my husband and I vacationed here while attending a wedding and visiting family. We loved walking through the lively medieval streets and finding all kinds of little independent restaurants and bars. There may be a lot of students here, but you won’t be hearing English everywhere like you do in Paris. In Montpellier, most people are French, European or North African.

jessicasfranglais.com

Les Trois Graces, jessicasfranglais.com

The central area of the city, Place de la Comédie, dates back to 1755. Here you will find la sculpture des Trois Grâces created by Etienne d’Antoine in 1790. This is a great people-watching or meeting place. If you enjoy art, the musée Fabre hosts a vast array of European paintings from the 15th century through the 20th, and also includes sculptures and ceramics.

Place de la Comedie, jessicasfranglais.com

Place de la Comedie, jessicasfranglais.com

If nature is your pleasure, visit the Botanical Gardens, one of the oldest in Europe, created by Henri IV in 1593. If you prefer the beach, you can take a bus to enjoy the warm Mediterranean waters at Carnon Plage, Palavas les Flots or La Grande Motte.

A great way to discover all of this is to come here as a student in a French language program. No matter your age, Montpellier is home to 16 language schools which accommodate all levels and learning styles. Maybe it’s the weather or the laid-back atmosphere, but 15,000 people come to study French here every year! The language schools work in conjunction with the Montpellier Office de Tourisme in order to help visitors and students alike enjoy their stay. Here is a special clip about this:

TV5 Destination Francophonie: Montpellier

Below you will find links to some of the top rated schools as well as a break-down comparison of costs and offerings:

Ecole Klesse

http://www.ecoleklesse.com/index.php

Institut Européen de Français:

http://www.institut-europeen.com/

LSF Learn French Montpellier

http://www.lsf-france.com/

Comparison of Montpellier French Language Schools:

http://www.languagecourse.net/schools-montpellier.php3

As a former study abroad student myself (I studied in la ville rose, Toulouse, another gem in the South of France) I can’t recommend the experience enough. What better way to dive into the language and culture than to stay in the country itself?

Et vous, where did you study abroad or learn French?

Montpellier Danse! jessicasfranglais.com

Montpellier Danse! jessicasfranglais.com

© Jessica’s Franglais 2015

French in Brooklyn Part I

When I lived in Brooklyn, I adored mon petit quartier français: my little French neighborhood nestled into Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens. We enjoyed French cafés, bars and restaurants, and even heard little school children speaking French in the streets as there is a bilingual school in the area: P.S. 58 The Carroll School.

Every Bastille Day since 2006, they close off Smith street for a pétanque tournament and the French establishments serve their Frenchest food and drink. Check out Bar Tabac’s website for more information.

Recently, a French TV station mentioned ce petit coin as a francophone destination:

TV5 Monde Destination Francophonie #115: Brooklyn

Notice the yellow café in the video? That’s Provence en Boîte. While there are many French restaurants in Brooklyn, this one was my favorite. I loved this place so much my husband and I had our last breakfast there before moving to Paris. Oui, c’est un resto francais, bien sûr. We simply had to have our last café et croissant before heading to the motherland.

Here is a post, or a love letter really, that I wrote to Provence en Boîte on my old blog Le Quartier Français à Brooklyn before we left for la tour Eiffel:

“Even from the outside, it’s easy to see that Provence en Boîte has a bright character all its own. Quite literally a sunflower-yellow box plopped down on the corner of Smith and Degraw in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, this petit bistro warmly welcomes every passer-by to come in and discover the delights of Provence.

Installez-vous sur la terrasse

Installez-vous sur la terrasse!

Guests are seated at simple copper-topped tables and served water from French bottles. The golden colored walls are covered with eclectic paintings and photographs of Provence and Brooklyn, while antique French tins and bottles of Ricard and Lillet line the wooden shelves. Diners are tempted by the glass case at the center of the restaurant filled with fruit tarts, éclairs and decadent chocolate pastries. Above the pastry display sit rows of puffy croissants, glistening pains au chocolats and fresh baguettes just begging to be taken away.

As a resident of the neighborhood, I myself am drawn to this sanctuary like a moth to a lamp. Every brunch experience there is filled with fluffy egg and creamy goat cheese omelets, real French bread, rich espresso, perfectly vinegretted salad and mimosas that taste like sunlight on your tongue. I often see Jean-Jacques and Leslie, the charming French owners and executive chef (Jean-Jacques), making their rounds to the tables, saying “bonjour” and making sure that everything is delicious. Sometimes even les petits, their young children Andrea and Jacques, come around to collect the bill. Quite possibly they are in training to take over the restaurant from their parents one day.

Not one to forego new dining prospects, I noticed one evening that the yellow bistro is open for dinner as well. My boyfriend and I decided to stop in and see what was being served. Transformed for the evening with lights dimmed, a candle flickering on every table, and a track of smooth jazz playing, we found ourselves in a slightly more sophisticated version of the daytime hotspot.

Entrez!

Entrez!

That evening we were the only diners, but instead of feeling awkward it seemed as if the place had been reserved especially for us. We both ended up choosing the prix fixe menu, which was $22 for soup or salad, fish or entrée of the day, and crème brûlée for dessert.

The smooth and attentive waiter swiftly brought us our house salads with dark mixed greens and cherry tomatoes, which were to the same acidic perfection as when ordered during the day. Next for my boyfriend was the chicken special: a large thigh with crispy golden skin in a red wine reduction sauce, accompanied by creamy mashed potatoes and slices of savory portabella mushrooms. Quel paradis! On my plate sat a generous portion of thick buttery white monkfish smothered with an olive tapenade atop a chunky bed of ratatouille. The olive oil infused vegetables burst with flavor and complimented the fish superbly.

Topping off the evening with a bit of sugar, we gladly savored the vanilla custard of our home made crème brûlées down to the very last spoonful. Well, I savored. My boyfriend gobbled ravenously.

Crème brûlée. Photo credit: Foodspotting.com

Crème brûlée. Photo credit: Foodspotting.com

At the end of our lovely meal after paying our bill and saying our merci’s, I couldn’t help but notice chef Jean-Jacques sitting in the back of the restaurant watching a French drama on TV5. That evening, as he was privately enjoying a little bit of home, I hope he knew that Provence en Boîte had also brought a little bit of France to us.”

263 Smith St (at Degraw)

Brooklyn, NY 11231

Metro: F or G to Carroll St

http://www.provenceenboite.com/

What’s your favorite French place in Brooklyn?

Stay tuned for Part II!

© Jessica’s Franglais 2015