Where to eat, drink and jam all things French in Denver
The Alliance Française de Denver, a Parisian company non-profit that teaches the French language in Denverites since 1897, was finally ready to resume its regular activities at its headquarters in Baker when, in early June, a disaster struck: collapsed north wall, delaying the organization’s return to face-to-face classes. The Alliance is working to find alternative spaces to celebrate French culture (inquire with the group on Facebook for updates and ways to help). Meanwhile, Executive Director Zoé Hess took us on a tour of local French entertainment to help ease the pain. Cue accordion music.
Enjoy your meal
Opening of the Franco-Senegalese siblings Aminata and Rougui Dia The French Bakery & Café in 2019. Aminata is known as the African queen of Parisian cuisine, a nickname obtained after becoming the first black woman in Paris to be appointed executive chef of a Michelin-starred restaurant. Now the sisters are serving up staples like beef bourguignon and duck fat potato confit in Southeast Denver. (Tip: Cheese dishes fall between the main course and dessert.) Hess opts for an alfresco brunch of snails with garlic-parsley butter and croque madame.
The care chain L’Occitane in Provence can be found in 90 countries, including a boutique in the Cherry Creek Mall. Hess says he’s loved by expats not only for his stellar line of products – his shower gels, soaps, hand creams, and cologne are made in southeastern France – but also for the comfort that the aroma of lavender provides when you walk through the door. “It’s like McDonald’s for Americans: all stores smell the same,” Hess says. “If I’m homesick, I visit to feel like I’m in France or Belgium.
Life in pink
Sure, jazz and blues are American inventions, but some French-speaking musicians in Denver have mixed these gritty and flexible art forms with French traditions. Nicolas Busquet, whose influences include Georges Brassens – think Bob Dylan, but French – mixes French folk music with a soul rasp and bluesy guitar. Find him all year round on his YouTube channel. (Plans for an October performance at Alliance Française headquarters were on hold at press time.) Maria Diedrichs Lopez is an American-German-Ecuadorian singer appreciated for, among other musical styles, a repertoire of Edith Piaf who often includes the French national favorite “Hymn to love”. Catch her at 100 nights of jazz, a series of virtual concerts at Classic Pianos in Denver.
the Infinite monkey theorem in RiNo pours his wines in a quintessentially Denver way – from stainless steel barrels – but his cultivation methods are as French as a Colorado winemaker can get. Founded in 2008, the winery cultivates Cabernet Franc on the Versant Ouest at a latitude similar to that of the Loire Valley in France (place of origin of Cabernet Franc). The terroir produces a medium bodied, grassy and fruity wine. Hess pairs it with deli meats from his favorite deli in Boulder, The fridge.