Guest article by Kristella Montiegel.
Within the hip and diverse city of Austin, you’ll find an alluring presence of French culture and community. Fittingly so, since French colonization of Texas dates back to the the 1600’s. Traces of French influence – especially in historical locations, food and art – can be found throughout the Austin area.
While it might be a stretch to attribute the creative and experimental culture of Austin to the avant-gardism of modernist Paris, the fact remains that an impressive French community has been sustained through Austin’s growth and diversification. So, whether you’re a native of France or someone who’s simply curious about their customs, Austin has plenty of opportunities for you to get your daily dose of French lifestyle.
For those of you who have dreamt of fluency in another language or are looking for conversational skills to use the next time you travel abroad, the Alliance Française d’Austin offers courses tailored to all your language needs.
The school provides group or private instruction from French speaking professional instructors. With affordable tuition and classes offered mornings, afternoons and nights, fitting a course into your busy agenda should be no problem at all.
Classes are small (less than ten each), so you are exposed to a unique and more responsive type of learning.
The Alliance Française d’Austin also hosts a variety of social events and activities, from museum visits to dinner outings, so you can further your learning outside of the classroom.
4101 Medical Pkwy, Stes 105, 106 and 203
Vive la France à Austin!
Did you know that on the edge of artistic east Austin, nestled off of 7th St, perched on a hill and slightly hidden by looming trees, sits one of the oldest frame buildings in the city?
The French Legation Museum serves to remind and educate visitors about the history of Austin during the Republic of Texas era. Built in 1841 as a private home for a French diplomat, the venerable building is now open to the public.
For only $5, you can take a tour of this historic structure and property. After the tour, relax in the two and a half acre park that is open to the public. Picnic with your family, read a book in the gardens or take advantage of the museum’s protected, sweeping view of the Texas State Capitol Building. You’re also likely to run into a group of friendly locals who frequent the park to play Pétanque, a classic French game of boules.
The museum is owned by the state and upheld by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, an ancestral organization that works to help preserve the history of that particular era.
802 San Marcos St
Because of Austin’s reputation as one of America’s best foodie cities, it comes as no surprise that we have a considerable amount of authentic French cuisine options.
Whether you’re hungry for delectable hors d’oeuvres like escargot or tartines, craving classic French entrées like bouillabaisse (seafood stew) or foie gras (duck or goose liver), questing for the perfect sweet or savory crêpe or simply looking to unwind with aperitifs, traditional cocktails or fine wines, Austin does not fall short when it comes to French food and drink.
Austin highlights include:
- Chez Nous – Charming French bistro that has been open for over 30 years. Delight in their lunch, dinner and dessert menus filled with exceptional French dishes. Inquire about the soupe du jour! 510 Neches St
- Peché – Absinthe bar in Austin’s Warehouse District, known for deliciously crafted cocktails and French fare. 208 W 4th St
- Le Café Crêpe – Downtown corner café also serving coffee, wine and beer. 200 San Jacinto, Ste A
- Justine’s Brassiere – East side jewel with spectacular ambiance, tasty French food selections and my favorite place to get a French 75. 4710 E 5th St
Plenty more French inspired restaurants are spread throughout the city. Do your taste buds a favor and experience what Austin has in store to satisfy your appetite for all things France.
Voilà! These are just a few of the many ways for you to indulge in the history and romanticism of France while staying within Austin city limits. Make it your extracurricular civic duty to expand your horizons and set off on a French fulfilled adventure. Surely, you will not be disappointed.
@theAustinot wants to know:
What are your favorites ways to experience French culture in Austin?
Kristella Montiegel, originally from Myrtle Beach, SC, sought to trade laid back beach life for vibrant city culture when she moved to Austin. She is currently a marketing assistant and copywriter at a mobile applications marketing company located on the East Side.
Cover photo via David Ingram via Flickr CC.
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