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I WANT MY BEIGNET

Beignets, French Culture, and The Bonus Language in New Orleans

Didier Allouch, host of Rendez-vous d'Amérique

My dear francophiles, francovorous and francophageous friends, in this “Week of Francophonie”, how could we not go to Louisiana, and more precisely to New Orleans…

"This is a part of our America. Our ancestors spoke French. Then it became an act of resistance. Today, it’s just what it’s supposed to be."

I just love New Orleans. A little more than 18 months ago, we were there for a live show on TV5Monde. It was called “Le Tour Du Monde De La Francophonie.” For 24 hours, we went from city to city, changing every hour, to talk about Francophonie around the world.

My two bosses, Yves Bigot in Paris, and Patrice Courtaban, in Los Angeles, gave me this great opportunity to take care of the New Orleans French segment and to talk about the importance of French culture. I could never thank them enough.

It was one hour live from the Maison Degas in the heart of the city with guests from all kinds of cultural backgrounds. And I got to spend a couple of weeks in wonderful New Orleans to meet the people, to shoot stories, to feel the city. It was heaven.

Each day started with a beignet from Café du Monde and ended with a drink on the rooftop of the Pontchartrain hotel. And in the meantime, it was a festival of taste, of music, of art of every kind of culture that speaks French. I loved my time in the Big Easy… just loved it. I understood why people there are so attached to their city and state. It’s just wonderful.

Amongst the personalities I interviewed live during this 1-hour show in New Orleans, there was this band, the Lost Bayou Ramblers. Two brothers, Louis and André Michot, and a bunch of unbelievably talented musicians specialize in something pretty rare: Cajun rock -- Cajun music on a rock beat with lyrics in French or Creole. It’s something so unique. It gives you so much energy. You have to listen to it. It’s just great. And more than that, it’s essential to the preservation of the French heritage in the state.

Everywhere in the streets of Lafayette and New Orleans is French language and culture. But, let’s not fool ourselves, without the constant effort of some Louisianans, it would easily disappear. Those people are the officials (Mayor’s office, French Consulate, all those who teach French in some school in the State, etc) and the artists. They are all essential to keeping French alive in Louisiana.

The Lost Bayou Ramblers do more than their part. You’ll see that in the documentary On Va Continuer that will air on TV5Monde on March 23rd. It shows what these guys are doing to keep French alive there. They are amazing. You’ll see.

And they are so genuine about their passion for the French language. I remember talking to Louis Michot live on TV that day at Maison Degas. I remember asking him if he felt that singing in French in America today was some kind of an act of resistance. He answered by way of a little story. “One evening,” he said, “at a concert in deep Louisiana, they were giving the oath to the American flag in French. It made me feel good. This is a part of our America. Our ancestors spoke French. Then it became an act of resistance. Today, it’s just what it’s supposed to be. It’s just a bonus to have another language”.

With people like Louis and his band, this bonus will never go away. Like the beignet from Café Du Monde…

To learn more about New Orleans and French culture, those delectable beignets, and other events that define Francophone culture in America, tune-in to Rendez-vous d’Amérique on TV5MONDE USA. Click here for more information.

Exploring a diversity of culture entwined with New Orleans spirit, Miami heat, and Midwest hospitality - Rendez-vous d'Amérique invites you on a journey to discover Francophone culture in America. Your host on this cultural experience is Didier Allouch - reporter, cinephile, and a familiar face at movie premieres. Click here to learn how you can subscribe to TV5MONDE USA and never miss an episode!

 
Also featured in this episode, Claire Simon presents "Le Concours."
Everywhere in the streets... is French language and culture. But, let’s not fool ourselves, without the constant effort of some Louisianans, it would easily disappear.
Angelin Preljocaj's ballet troupe from Aix-en-Provence also appears in this week's episode.