How To Be French in Brisbane

From the archives: This post was originally published on MyCityLife (our original site) 14 July 2014.

Go all Francophile for Bastille Day. The elegance and sophistication of French living penetrates our streets, fashion houses, cafes, bars and restaurants where Le 14 Juillet celebrates the freedom, equality, and fraternity brought about by the French Revolution. It is the day to enjoy that wonderful French joie de vivre where MYCITYLIFE shows you how to be French In Brisbane.


To be French is all in the character: arrive late, take compliments in your stride, be dark, enigmatic and mysterious in manner and style, maintain your figure with a big lunch and a small breakfast and dinner, drink tea, mineral water, wine, champagne and cognac, recite poetry and literature, enjoy culture, soak up tragedy in films and plays and maintain high standards in all aspects of life. Tout ce que.


With Paris in town, look the part. While we can thank France for the first modern Olympic Games, Monet, and Mardi Gras, their influence on the fashion world is irrefutable. From the striped tee to the skater skirt, the French have designed some of the chicest styles to ever hit the runway. And from James Street, French Rendez-Vous is a refined and cosy clothing boutique and ‘boudoir’, dedicated to French conversation and culture. With unique and limited edition French women’s clothing and accessories on offer, hand-selected from exclusive French fashion designers, French Rendez-Vous is our doorway to emerging French designers and Parisian fashion trends. However, if DIY is more your style, go French with a beret, anything A-Line, the little black dress, Bereton Stripes and stiletto heels.


For a country where cuisine rates as the best and most indulgent in the world, Bastille Day is the perfect excuse to explore all that Brisbane’s French corner has to offer. It’s not surprising that many of our food references from restaurant to café and bistro have their origins in the French language. And as home to the best Chefs in the world, the French have developed cuisine across the ages, where generally anything rich and flavoursome combining cheese and wine features on the genuine French menu. 

France appreciates fresh produce as the foundation of meals. So Standard Markets at Gasworks or James Street, Black Pearl Epicure in Spring Hill, Swiss Gourmet Market and Marcia’s On Monatague West End or Rosalie Gourmet Market, Flour N Chocolate, Morningside, Fraiche Deli Providores in Graceville are Brisbane’s top stockists for fresh quality produce, where seasonal fruit and vegetables to imported products like Foie gras, Caviar de Lysekil, escargots or French cheeses are staples.   Bakeries are also definitive French foodie destinations where croissants, baguettes, Couronne, brioche are amongst the necessary pain nourishment. French Twist at Centro on James, The Barracks or South Brisbane is always a winner, though if we really want to delve into the decadent side of the bakery with macarons, eclairs, Mille-feuille and other patisserie goodies, Jocelyn’s Provisions on James Street, Le Bon Choix and Choquette in New Farm and Flour N Chocolate, Morningside will see those take-home sweet-tooth cravings satisfied. 

The coffeehouse, or café, serves as the centre of social interaction, just as much as the serving of simple dishes and coffee. Au Cirque in New Farm and Sprout in Auchenflower are social standouts while Anise from New Farm is also a tribute to the Francophile foodie lifestyle.  

Fine Dining is an art, and Brisbane is a gallery of fine artisans. Bacchus and Aquitaine Brasserie from South Bank are jewels in the French crown. And as part of Good Food Month, Bacchus’ special dessert offer will see their sticky date soufflé paired to the Yalumba FSW8b Botrytis Viognier for dessert heaven. From The Barracks, Libertine Bar & Restaurant has curated a very special French menu for Bastille Month which kicks off July 28, where rich flavours, premium quality ingredients and French techniques are as much of a feature as the dishes themselves. For genuine French ambience, C’est Bon in East Brisbane and Montrachet in Paddington are the Hope Diamonds. So Bon Appétit!  


“I drink when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it when I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it — unless I’m thirsty”.              
Madame Jacques Bollinger, London Daily Mail, Oct. 17 1961. 

French beverages can run from wholesome Evian or Perrier mineral waters to the fermented varieties. Le Vin places the spotlight on regions like Alsace, Champagne through to Provence and Su-Ouest, and Cognac from Bordeaux’ fills the top shelves of the drinking world. Either way, it’s an essential aspect to lifestyle.

Enjoying champagne from the comfort of your own home is part and parcel of life’s pleasures, and there are many places in Brisbane changing the way we think about the experience of France’s premium sparkling white wine. Premium champagnes from Bollinger to Ruinart, Moët & Chandon, Louis Roderer, Cristal, Pol Roger, Canard-Duchêne, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, Krug, Piper-Heidsieck and Taittinger; bruts, non-vintages and vintages can all be sourced from Cru Bar and Cellar on James Street and The Wine Emporium at Gasworks. For an array of unmatched variety, an outstanding range of premium Australian, and imported wines, these are the go-to. Alternatively, Darren Davis has just setup Grape Therapy Wine Merchants and Drinking Den in the heart of The CBD as a bespoke underground wine shop and bar. Like most good things in life, it isn’t easy to find. But this is the place where life is all about fine wine and fine conversation.

The drink of The Kings can be enjoyed all across Brisbane and when that glass of bubbles hits the lips, you’ll feel a king, queen and a princess in no time. From The Valley, The Emporium Hotel’s Cocktail Bar features exquisite wines by the glass, or by the bottle. And with Brisbane’s Champagne Mistress Bernadette O’Shea hosting The Champagne Club the first Tuesday of each month, exploring the nectar of The Gods will be a once-a-month feature on your diary.

Many Brisbane establishments are also now hosting champagne, specialising in specific luxury brands and vintages. From the heart of the CBD, The Laneway on Spencer Lane puts the spotlight on NV Louis Roederer Brut Premier; 127 Bistro & Bar on Charlotte Street is home to the Krug Grand Cuvee, and Hilton Hotel Brisbane is the mistress for the 2004 Veuve Clicquot Vintage. The Cuvee Lounge at Sofitel Hotel Brisbane offers a dominion of champagne experiences, including Dom Ruinart, Dom Perignon, Bollinger La Grande, and the Veuve Cliquot La Grande Dame. Their Wine Flights showcases varieties and regions by the glass, while their Moët & Chandon Champagne Trolley is a circuit of champagne heaven – including Ruinart Blanc de Blanc Reims by the glass. Moo Moo Bar from The Stamford presents NV Louis Bouillot Cremant, NV Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin and 2004 Moët et Chandon Brut Impérial Grand Vintage by the glass, and Pol Roger, Ruinart Blanc de Blanc and Armand de Brignac Blanc de Blanc available by the bottle. 

From The Valley, Cloudland hosts Louis Roederer Brut Premier by the glass and bottles of Perrier-Jouët Belle Époque. On Ann Street, Laruche sees glasses of Mumm and Perrier Jouet Grand on offer with Ruinart Blanc de Blanc and Dom Perignon by the bottle beside a variety of Champagne cocktails there for the tasting. Around the corner, Limes Hotel Rooftop Bar loves their Veuve Clicquot and Moet while from Newstead, Frenchy Fridays at Claret House Wine Bar sees an afternoon of Pol Roger and their rustic menu kickstarting the weekend.

And from  South Bank, Bacchus South Brisbane is the home of Dom Perignon, the only venue in Brisbane to sell the true experience of the doyenne of Champagne. Enjoy Dom by the glass, the Dom Perignon High Tea, their Dom Perignon Degustation or really indulge with their Dom Perignon Experience that sees a seven-course degustation specially matched to Dom Perignon vintages.

But if we wanted to traverse through to Bourdeux’ brandy side of tastes, Sky & Lotus is home to Hennessy Cognac, where customary Hennessy cognacs rub shoulders with limited edition bottles.


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