100 years of French cultural ties celebrated with haute cuisine.

Alliance Francaise d’Adelaide, affectionately dubbed “the frog pond’ celebrated its 100th anniversary in an unlikely venue – the elite Queen Adelaide Club on Monday night.

However, the French language and cultural institute’s ties to the upper crust women’s club stretch back to 1909 when French woman Madame Berthe Mouchette, founded the Alliance at the Queen Adelaide Club.

And to shoo any shadow of Britishness out of the famous James Place green door, Queen Adelaide Club’s resident chef, French-born chef, Alain Rousse, presented a delectable three-course haute cuisine fit for the French sun-king, Louis XIV.

Alliance stalwart and former St Peters College French teacher, Andrew McKenzie commended the Alliance’s community leaders and its directors for their fortitude to acquire the existing headquarters in Young Street, Wayville.

He praised the thousands of French students who, over the years, had breathed life into the building with their desire to learn the French language.

Mr McKenzie also highlighted the Alliance’s progress over the century including its popular Café Theatre and in the past 10 years, the popular cultural events the French Film Festival, the French Festival at Carrick Hill, its musical evenings and the staging of French theatre.

After praising present director, Philippe Marse for his energy and leadership, Mr McKenzie urged everyone to charge their glasses with Louis Bouillot Grand Reserve champagne to celebrate 100 years of French language education and cultural exchange in Adelaide.

Special guest at the event was Jean-Marc Lestabel, Air France representative, who flew in from Sydney to draw the winning ticket of Alliance’s  Centenary Lottery – and in a dream PR exercise the winner was Alliance student of the French language, Bruce Smith.

But when Mr Lestabel telephoned the winner to announce his prize before the clapping crowd,  Mrs Smith refused to believe him, thinking it was a hoax.

South Australia’s Honorary Consul for France, Dr Christine Rothauser and Alliance Francaise director, Philippe Marse and his wife, Colette, former Labor Minister, Jane Lomax-Smith and president of the French Australian Chamber of Commerce, Philippe Marse headed a long list of renowned Adelaideans with French connections either through birth or business.

One hundred years ago, the Adelaide branch of the Alliance Francaise was designed to continue its world-wide role of cultivating better relationships between British and French peoples.

The Advertiser on Friday, July 8, 1910 reported on page 8 that “the object of the club is to promote French conversation, the study of French literature and art and to show hospitality to visiting members of the Alliance.’’

“The rooms were decorated with flags and pictures and over the doorway were suspended the Australian and French flags, as well as several French rapiers. There was a large gathering of members and Lady Way, the president in declaring the club opne, trusted that it would long give benefit and enjoyment to all who were united in the common love of the French language and literature, and of French culture and social charm.’’

Such a prestigious event took place before the cream of Adelaide society including vice-presidents Lady Bonython, Lady Gordon and Mrs Reid Baird (delegate from Paris) and the French honorary secretary, Miss Doris Hawker

But,  100 years later in 2010, while the Alsace Gentil “Hugel’’ wine flowed and everyone tucked into Tournedos de Boeuf a la Bordelaise, there was one glaring omission – the French flag was nowhere to be seen.

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