The Windy City is about to get a little French this week to celebrate Bastille Day. (Should we call it “la Ville du vent”?) Here’s a selection of what’s going down in Chicago in honor of July 14.
The annual Bastille Day Chicago celebration takes place this year on July 13 at the Lycée Française de Chicago in Ravesnwood. Guests are invited to bring their own food or buy crêpes, hot dogs, and other food from vendors at this massive picnic (5pm to 9pm). Highlights include pétanque and a Course de Garçons de Café (a waiter’s race, when contestants run as fast as they can while carrying a tray with glasses of champagne). A kids corner will keep the little ones busy with a water balloon toss, face and nail painting, drawing, and a bouncy house.
Lycée Français de Chicago (in Ravenswood) – 1929 W. Wilson Ave, Chicago, IL 60640
For a party on the day of the Fête Nationale, head to the Bastille Day party at the Alliance Français de Chicago. Starting at 6pm on July 14, this cultural center will be hosting a bal musette with music and dancing. Frites with sauces and other French snacks will be available for purchase at the event (provided by Homestead Meats). Beer, wine, and rosé will also be served. Make sure to put on your best French outfit so you can show it off in the photo booth! Tickets are $10 for members and current students, and $15 for non-members. (Reserve tickets here.)
Alliance Français de Chicago (events location) – 54 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60610
This French restaurant will be celebrating Bastille Day all weekend. Chef Dominique Tougne has created two special prix-fixe menus, one for each side of the revolution: “Menu Versailles” (for French royalty, $49/person) or “Menu Bastille” (for the peasants, $29/person). Just know, don’t be afraid to get the peasant menu — you certainly won’t be eating like a peasant. Special cocktails will also be available, plus live music by Heather Riordan from Friday through Sunday. Call 773-871-2100 to reserve your spot.
Chez Moi – 2100 N. Halsted St.
Do as the French do and head to the local market! The Chicago French Market has organized a special day on July 14. From 11am to 1pm, wander into the market (free of charge) and enjoy live music, a mime, a balloon artist, and specials on French food and drink, including at the vendors Frietkoten, Les Fleurs, Les Fleurs, and Vanille Patisserie. Then, from 2pm to 3pm, attend a Bastille Day cheese and wine class from Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine where you’ll learn about classic French cheese and wine pairings. (Buy tickets here.)
Chicago French Market – 131 N Clinton St, Chicago, IL 60661
In honor of its first full year in Chicago (and in honor of France, of course), Margeaux Brasserie will host a Parisian Bastille Day Party in the 6,000-square-foot cobblestone courtyard of the Waldorf Astoria hotel where the French brasserie is located. On July 15, from 3:30pm to 6:30pm, live music, a mime, French cancan dancers, a wine bike, and more will be on site for Francophiles to enjoy. A balloon artist, face painter, and cotton candy machine will keep kids busy in the children’s section. Make sure to wear your best Breton stripes, there will be a “Best Dressed Parisian” contest! Unlike most street fair-style events, this one is not free. But the cost of your ticket covers the unlimited (delicious) canapés passed throughout the event and four “coins” which can be spent on the food and drink stations. Additional “coins” will be available for purchase at the event. The tasting stations will offer delicacies like raclette, duck boudin, crêpes, truffle popcorn, and more. (Buy tickets here.)
Margeaux Brasserie (in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel) – 11 E Walton St, Chicago, IL 60611
This chic brasserie will be offering several specials on July 14 in honor of la Fête Nationale. Glasses of select French sparkling wines will be $10, with $5 chartreuse shots, $1 oysters, and $15 steak tartare. Santé!
Cochon Volant Brasserie – 100 W. Monroe St.