Parlez-vous Francais? Celebrate the rich and delightful French
culture right here in Chicago by visiting some of our city's finest
Start your journey at the premier French cultural institution,
dedicated to the study of French language, cultural exchange and
friendship between Americans and French-speaking people: the
Alliance Francaise, located in a historic former mansion on
Dearborn Street in the Gold Coast.
The Chez Kids Academy at the Alliance
Francaise is a comprehensive children's education center
offering extensive children's programming. All children's language
classes are conducted entirely in French by experienced Francophone
teachers and are open to children as young as 1. In addition to
language classes, the Chez Kids Academy offers a Cinè-Club,
presenting different categories of age-appropriate movies in French
with English subtitles, Storytelling Hour and Family Cooking
Classes-the most delicious and creative way to expose kids to
French language and culture.
The Alliance Mediateque, aka library and media center, has an
extensive collection of kid-friendly French-focused magazines, DVDs
and books. Parents will also enjoy checking out the myriad of adult
programs, ranging from lectures and culinary programs to language
and culture classes.
Taste the culture of France at one of the many French cafés and
restaurants in Chicago. Vanille Patisserie, an authentic, gourmet
French-style pastry shop located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood,
offers a small seating area-the right spot to relax and delight in
a fresh-from-the-oven pain au chocolat (chocolate-filled croissant)
and a café au lait (hot chocolate is available for the
La Creperie, located in the Lakeview
neighborhood since 1972, is a cozy family-run bistro with a menu of
casual and moderately priced French fare. Check out the
specialty-crepes-both sweet and savory. The outdoor patio is a
treat in the warmer months.
Take a trip to a Paris bistro at Kiki's Bistro: There are several kid-friendly
sandwiches on the lunch menu, including the famous Croque Monsieur
(melted French Ham and Gruyère Cheese sandwich with Béchamel
Sauce). For dessert, parents and kids alike will love the crème
caramel and mousse au chocolat.
Or test out a recipe for homemade "pain au chocolat" in your own
foreignlanguagefun.com. End your trip with a visit to one of
the largest and finest collections of late 19th-century French art
in the world, the Art Institute of Chicago. Bring a blank-page
notebook and some colored pencils and ask your children to sketch
their own impressions of les Impressionnistes. For more ideas on
planning a trip to the Art Institute, including a guide on creating
follow-up activities to your visit, head to the museum's Web site.
Amy Bizzarri is a mom of two living in Logan Square. She also blogs at tiramisumom.com.
See more of Amy's stories here.
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