Welcome to my new series of posts, where each month I’ll be sharing my favourite French discoveries, from films and books to musicians and (of course) anything and everything food-related.
Hope you enjoy reading! 🙂
1. Institut Français
My cousin bought me membership last Christmas for the Institut Français in London, which is a French cultural centre in South Kensington with the largest French library in the UK(!!)
I’ve popped in a few times since then to explore the library and test out their café.
You don’t have to be a member to visit the library, cinema or café, so if you’re looking for the perfect way to while away a few hours in central London, you’ve come to the right place 🙂
Have a read of my post here to find out more about why you should visit the Institut Français!
The Institut Français has a huge selection of DVDs available to borrow from their library, so when I was last there, I picked up Le Prénom to watch at home.
It was adapted by writers Matthieu Delaporte and Alexandre de La Patellière from their play of the same name, which was first performed in 2010.
Known in English as What’s in a Name?, the film takes place at a family dinner. Hosts Pierre and Élisabeth (known for an inexplicable reason as Babou to her nearest and dearest) have invited along her brother Vincent and his wife Anna, as well as Élisabeth’s best friend Claude.
Shortly after Vincent arrives, he drops a bombshell: he and Anna are expecting their first child.
While the other guests congratulate him, waiting for Anna who is still to arrive, he confirms that they’ve already chosen the baby’s name, and challenges the others to guess what it is.
And when Vincent eventually reveals what he and Anna are planning to call their child, all of the other guests are shocked into silence.
Singer Patrick Bruel, who has also appeared in several other films in France, plays the clownish Vincent, while Guillaume de Tonquédec, also seen in French TV series Fais pas çi, fais pas ça, plays Claude.
For more film reviews, why not have a read here of my post of the best French films of the last 10 years?
I first saw this in the department store Galeries Lafayette, when I was in Paris last month. It’s got a HUGE food hall, with several shelves – as you can see from the photo below – just for jam 😍
For once, my greed was beaten by my common sense (I think?) I decided not to buy a jar in Paris, worried that it would break on the way back and I’d end up jam-less and with a suitcase covered in glass and smelling of berries – obvs not ideal, as I’m sure you’ll agree.
So I took a few deep breaths, gathered up my last vestiges of willpower and waited until I was safely back in Blighty to get my hands on a jar, which I found this month in Poilâne bakery in London.
Christine Ferber, who’s known as the ‘Jam Fairy’ for her amazing flavours, also has a few famous fans – apparently Brad Pitt is rather partial to the jam, which she makes at her home in Niedermorschwir, on the French-German border. Flavours include wild rose jam, raspberry and elderflower jam and orange, mango and passion fruit marmalade.
You can find the jams online here if you’re based in Britain, and here if you’re in the United States. In London, you can also find them in Selfridges food hall, Pierre Hermé’s macaron shop in Knightsbridge and Poilâne bakery right next to Victoria coach station.
If you’re looking for more delicious French food spots in London, you can find my post on French bakeries in London here.
Are you also a fan of Christine Ferber jam? Let me know in the comments below – I’d love to hear what you think! 🙂
The photo above leads me neatly onto my next February find – Dans le Jardin de L’Ogre, the brilliant début novel from French author Leïla Slimani.
Check out my reviews of Dans le Jardin de L’Ogre and Chanson Douce here and here.
Although neither book has been translated into English so far, it looks like we won’t have to wait too long for a translation.
After Slimani’s latest novel Chanson Douce won the Prix Goncourt, one of France’s most prestigious literary awards, in 2016, the foreign rights to her novels have been snapped up.
Watch this space….
Last but not least, we come to Spin, a TV series that’s the Gallic version of Borgen or House of Cards.
Earlier this month, I went to the Institut Français for a screening of the first episode of the latest series of Spin, which you can watch in the U.K. on Channel 4’s 4OD website from mid-March.
To find out more about Spin, known in France as Les Hommes de L’Ombre, have a read of my post here.
How about you? What are your favourite French finds?
Let me know in the comments below!
And as always, if you’ve enjoyed reading this post, please feel free to share it 🙂