As you all certainly know, February is the month of crepes and Mardi Gras in Francophile circles. But have you ever heard of the Binche Carnival? Le Carnaval de Binche takes place in Belgium and is one of the quirkiest carnival celebrations around the world. The Walloon town fills up with ‘Gilles,’ these clown-like figures in wax masks and vibrant outfits, carrying baskets of oranges - symbols of good luck. Gilles have been around since the Middle Ages, although no one knows exactly where they come from - or why they insist on pelting the crowd with those oranges. But as far as entertainment and identity-building go, the event is an absolute enchantment! You guessed right: our Tour de la Francophonie is taking us to Belgium this month at the Alliance. And before we go any further, we need to clarify a major misunderstanding about French fries : Les frites are from Belgium! The misnomer stems from a geographical error during World War I, when American soldiers stationed in Belgium believed they were situated in France and nicknamed the delicacies ‘French fries.’ Now that the matter is settled, let's look at what else the Alliance has in store for us this month:
Zoom Café Tuesday 2nd February, 10-11am Zoom Café is our friendly way to start each month with French conversation during the pandemic. All levels, accents, traditions and outfits are welcome. Free and open to all. Sign up here. Noires Amériques Tuesday 2nd February, 5-6pm A series sponsored by the Centre de la Francophonie des Amériques. Writer and publisher Rodney Saint-Eloi will discuss far ranging topics such as racism, colonialism and how to live together, with Patrick Chamoiseau, winner of the 1992 Goncourt Prize. In French. Free and open to all. Sign up here. Apéro National Tuesday 9 and Wednesday 10 February, 5:15 or 8:15pm. A monthly French conversation group sponsored by the Federation of Alliances Françaises USA. Free and open to all AF members across the US. Sign up here Coco Chanel: The Woman Who Dressed the World Tuesday 12 February, 12-1pm. Coco Chanel, born into poverty in rural France, was by age 40 a multimillionaire and a household name. Her Chanel Corporation is still the highest-earning privately owned luxury goods manufacturer in the world. How did she do it? In English. Members only. Sign up here Valentine Dinner Sunday 14 February, 3:30-5:30pm Need all the help you can get for Valentine dinner? Join Florence from the comfort of your kitchen and prepare a French inspired, memorable dinner for 2. In English. $30/household for a 2-hour virtual class. Sign up here. Mon Pays: La Belgique Monday 15 February, 1-2pm Join fellow Triangle resident Anne Theunissen for a conversation with Claire Barthelemy about what it means to be from Belgium, and Wallonia in particular. In French. Free and open to all. Sign up here Club de Lecture Tuesday 16 February, 10am-11am. This month's selection is Les grands faits de l’histoire du pays wallon by Nele Marian. Born from a Belgian father and a Congolese mother, Nele Marian is one of the very first poets and writers of African origin to be recognized in Belgium. In French. For members. Sign up here. Noires Amériques Tuesday 16 February, 6-7pm Rodney Saint-Eloi in conversation with Alain Mabanckou, winner of the Renaudot Prize in 2006. In French. Free and open to all. Sign up here. French like Moi Tuesday 17 February, 7-8pm Scott Dominic Carpenter interviewed by Eileen Walvoord about his hilarious new memoir: French Like Moi: A Midwesterner in Paris. In English. For members only. Sign up here. Apéro Antivirus Friday 19 February, 5-6pm. Where we'll share our best Belgian jokes with a glass of our favorite drink - Belgian beer anyone? Chocolate and waffles optional. All levels of French welcome. Free and open to all. Sign up here. Noires Amériques Tuesday 23 February, 6-7pm Rodney Saint-Eloi in conversation with writer and human rights activist Emmelie Prophète. In French. Free and open to all. Sign up here.
Belgium is Hip! Wednesday 24 February, 6:30-7:30pm Find out why there is so much more to Belgium than chocolates, beers and waffles, and why your next trip to Europe should include this most underrated country. With Caroline Leruth. In French. Details and sign up information coming soon. Happy February to All! The Alliance Team