Feeling French in Chicago

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Chicago has a rich history of French cultural influence.

What else do Paris and Chicago have in common besides delicious French food?

A strong sense of community: Both the Windy City and the City of Light have a unique vibe that cannot be duplicated anywhere else. Residents of both cities are extremely proud of their culture, history, art, language and . They also face similar misconceptions: many tourists are surprised to find that Parisians are quite friendly, or that Chicago is a safe, welcoming place for families to visit. And of course, both cities offer a variety of French food, wine, and other Francophile pleasures.

A proud tradition of jazz: Chicago’s jazz roots go back one hundred years (which to Americans is a long time); in fact, the Chicago Tribune was the first to print the term “jazz” in 1915. Paris, however, was quick to adopt this avant-garde musical trend, and French jazz soon became recognized as its own distinctive style by the 1920s. Today you can enjoy performances of genuine French jazz by The Bridge, a cross-cultural ensemble of French and American jazz musicians which tours four times each year, twice in France and twice in Chicago. Be sure to see them on both sides of the Atlantic!

Le Jardin des Plantes, Chicago and French art

Claude_Debussy_Paul_Nadar_1909Scenic parks, museums, theatres: Whether you are at the Lyric Opera or the Palais Garnier Opera House, few things are more French than to take in an afternoon performance of works by Berlioz or Debussy, followed of course by a snack or a light meal at a café serving simple, hearty French food. Maison Parisienne’s classic croissants, quiche and baguettes are the perfect touch to make your visit to Chicago’s Botanical Gardens feel like a picnic in Le Jardin des Plantes, or to help you imagine you are overlooking the banks of the Seine as you stroll along the Chicago River. And of course, the Art Institute boasts a collection which rivals that of the Museé d’Orsay (though not the Louvre – nothing rivals the Louvre).

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