This year Melbourne celebrated Bastille Day for the first time with a two-day French Festival held in and around the historic State Library Victoria on July 18-19, allowing over 7000 visitors to enjoy the best of France in Melbourne. This revolutionary festival showcased French savoir faire and culture including stalls and stands from French-Australian associations such as Melbourne Accueil and French Assist, businesses and sellers of French food, wine and other classic French culinary treats ranging from croissants, macaroons and crepes to cheese, saucisson and raclette.
Melbourne Francophones and francophiles rejoiced in the family-friendly, community based nature of this event. There were childrens' activities with a kids' corner with French storytelling and colouring sheets coordinated by trained bilingual preschool teachers. School students studying the French language performed songs or theatre on the main stage.
The festival main stage offered live music entertainment with Vive la Difference and their Blues, Latin and Jazz inspired acoustic sets; French choir La La La with a wonderful selection French classics from their repertoire; La Nuit Blanche treated visitors to contemporary jazzy sounds including vocals, guitar, accordion and saxophone and finally Ced le Meledo, talented and lively guitarist, entertained both adults and children alike.
Two free conferences gave visitors the opportunity to learn more about the history of France and in particular, the Revolution that Bastille Day celebrates. Firstly, Professor McPhee from the University of Melbourne presented on the Revolution and its current meaning: why the French national day still resonates in Australia and across the world after 225 years. Then Guillaume Dillée, expert in 17th, 18th and 19th century French art explained the events of 1789 in the court of Versailles and how the royal treasures were dispersed, then recovered.
RMIT University and the University of Melbourne students, having recently returned from New Caledonia, presented highlights from a recent study tour and their reflections on a stay with a Kanak tribe. For those wanting to try out French language learning, the Alliance Française de Melbourne hosted several short "Parlez-vous français" fun and free trial classes. The film program featured a selection of French classic crime dramas and modern comedy and theatre lovers were treated to two comic pieces from the talented Melbourne French Theatre troupe.
A warm ‘merci’ goes to all event sponsors for helping to make this first edition of the festival a success. Special thanks to major supporters, Liberté sponsor Tanarra, Egalité sponsors Transdev and Michelin as well as to our Fraternité sponsors Renault Eurodrive and Galeries Lafayette. There were many visitors taking photo opportunities with the charming Michelin man and tagging them on Instagram at #BastilleDayMelb!
Thank you to our raffle sponsors, in particular AirFrance, Hotel Napoleon and RailEurope for their generous prize donations which greatly contributed to the success of the event and were much appreciated by our lucky first prize winner.
Thank you also to the State Library Victoria for hosting the event and for facilitating a special viewing of French treasures from the library’s collections. We also acknowledge the City of Melbourne and the Victorian Multicultural Commission for their assistance in promoting the event along with our media partners MyFrenchLife, Le Petit Journal, L’Officiel and SBS French Radio.
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© 2017 FRENCH AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE