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Embassy Celebrates Grande Fête de la Francophonie

Embassy Celebrates Grande Fête de la Francophonie

Published on March 25, 2013
32 French-Speaking Embassies Offer Food, Music in Washington

See more photos of this event on Flickr.

The Embassy of France hosted on March 22 the "Grande Fête de la Francophonie," a night of music, food, and celebrations of French-speaking cultures from around the globe.

Held at La Maison Française, the embassy’s cultural events center, 32 embassies from Washington’s diplomatic community operated exhibition booths. Each offered elements of their home culture to the visiting public.

Billed as "an invitation to travel the continents of the world," guests were able to choose from an international palette of food and drink, with samplings as varied as ice wine from Canada, roast fish from Gabon, and baklava from Egypt.

François Delattre, Ambassador of France to the United States, greeted 33 of his fellow Ambassadors and diplomatic counterparts through the course of the night.

While the evening sought to celebrate French-speaking countries’ unity through common language, embassy representatives also alluded to the broad diversity of local expressions. Proverbs and sayings common in Belgium differ markedly from those used in Lebanon or Cambodia, also present at the Grande Fête. In interviews with the Embassy of France, various embassy personnel explained these differences.

A diplomatic staff member from Niger, in north-central Africa, shared this expression: "No matter how much time a crocodile spends in the water, it will never turn into wood." The local understanding simply means, some things will never change.

A Senegalese official said, "An old man seated under a tree sees what a child, perched in the same tree, cannot." In other words, wisdom is priceless.

A representative of Québec, Canada’s French-speaking region, explained how to describe one’s amusement in a regional turn of phrase. "C’est le fun!," she said, which reflects the French-and-English nature of her country’s language landscape.

In addition to the food, drink, and language offerings, the air travel company Brussels Airlines offered via a raffle a roundtrip flight to Europe for two.

As guests visited the stands, Bastian Baker, an up-and-coming pop singer from Switzerland, played a two-hour show to a robust crowd of all ages.

This year’s festival was sponsored by the French government agency Exterior Audiovisual, TV5 Monde, the International Organization of La Francophonie, and the Dish network.

The Grande Fête’s logistics were provided by the Washington Francophonie Committee, more than 35 embassies, The Smithsonian Associates, La Maison Française, The Alliance Française de Washington, The Atlas Performing Arts Center, The National Gallery of Art and the French-American Cultural Foundation.

For photos of the Grande Fête de la Francophonie, please click here.

For details on this year’s Francophonie Cultural Festival, please click here.

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