© Jonas Cuénin
I had been curious about who and what was behind New York in French ever since I came upon the site over a year ago. One day recently I met with the site’s founder, Fabrice Jaumont, at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy on 5th Avenue facing the park. He took me on a trip of the spectacular building, which was once owned by the Whitney family.
He told an incredible story about the statue at the entrance: a small boy in marble. Apparently the Whitneys sold it to France (perhaps without knowing that it’s a Michelangelo?). Certainly the statue is worth more than the building itself. That’s an over-the-top find—much more exciting than old architectural drawings or the used silver-plated tray that I have discovered in places I’ve owned in New York. Now the statue safely rests in the Met, on loan.
But back to Fabrice and the reason for my visit. Fabrice, who looks a bit like a younger Gérard Depardieu—before he grew quite large—is in charge of education for the French Embassy in the US. His task is to encourage more French language learning, and at an earlier age, in New York’s public and private schools. Not an easy task, as the world seems to moving toward Spanish and Chinese, but he’s had success. Several years ago Fabrice saw a need among New York’s fairly large French expat population for better interaction. He envisioned a place where they might meet with their fellow Francophiles and others who love everything French. Of course, that place (as it always is nowadays) turned out to be the Internet, and New York in French was born.
The site, which Fabrice put together in his spare time, is a place to share events, photos, videos and blog posts about anything you might be doing in New York that relates to France. Some 6,000 members are there to regale you with stories and invites. Twenty thousand read the site monthly. When I’m back in New York, I find it’s a wonderful destination when I’m looking for something to quench my constant thirst for all things French.
The French Embassy in New York.
This week, for example, you can attend a lecture about French literature at New York University’s Maison Française, go to a meet-up for French-American young professionals, enjoy the French film Les Amants at Columbia University and listen to some French chamber music at the City University of New York. Don’t worry, it’s not all highbrow. The site also has information about after-school soccer programs and French summer camps. There is something for every age and interest, whether you’re an art lover or foodie, family oriented or single. I don’t know of another site that has this many New York–based Francophile listings from A to Z.
Since nearly everyone I meet or know in New York is almost as obsessed with Paris and France as I am, I am happy to tell you that Fabrice and the Girls’ Guide will be seeing a lot more of each other, thanks to our new content-sharing collaboration. I am certain our two crowds of readers will appreciate one another. I hope you too enjoy his site and some of his readers’ rich content, whether you live in New York or are just in town visiting.
New York in French
Cultural Services of the French Embassy
More info on the Michelangelo sculpture