What do most people look for when they visit France? The Eiffel Tower, the French Riviera, wine, cheese, and…turkey? Most French people may have only heard of Thanksgiving, but long time expatriates know that Thanksgiving has touched a few corners of France. A taste of home can always be found, just follow the aroma of the oven fresh pumpkin tarte.
The Organization France-Etats Unis
France-Etats Unis, according to their website, is an “apolitical, private, and independent French association” aiming to make “the two people better acquainted and to improve their mutual understanding.” Ever since the end of the Second World War, the organization has been working to create lasting friendships between French and American citizens. As an apolitical group, cultural outings, monthly aperitifs among adherents, and general good time events let members mingle in a relaxed setting, friendships erasing borders.
The organization, 2000 members strong, makes sure that Americans in France can come together to celebrate events like the fourth of July, President’s Day, and of course, Thanksgiving. With around 30 local chapters, that means that on Thanksgiving day, turkeys will be roasting in France’s major cities. Of course, each local chapter hosts its own dinner and determines the price, usually around 25 euros per person. But guests can be sure that a turkey and all the family style fixings will find their place at the dinner table of France-Etats Unis, giving Frenchmen and Americans, members or not, sit down to give thanks for their friendship.
Franco-American Social Clubs
With substantial American populations living in many French cities, a Franco-American club can be found with relative ease. And if the local chapter is as American as it claims, some kind of Thanksgiving get together has probably been planned. Bordeaux, Lyon, Grenoble, Nice, Lille, and Paris all claim their own French-American social groups. Some hold official status and belong to a larger network, like the American Clubs of Lyon and the Riviera (based in Nice). Others, like Americans in Toulouse, or Open House in Grenoble, stem from grass roots efforts to bring Americans abroad together. These types of groups, often founded to help relocating Americans adjust, sometimes also attract French members who find a chance to practice their English and meet new friends who have set up house in the Hexagon. The tourism office or the maison des associations, which keeps lists of all active associations of a particular city, probably knows who will be roasting turkeys com Thursday.
Thanksgiving celebrates eating, and where better to give thanks for good food than France? Of course, France doesn’t recognize Thanksgiving, which means no days off, no post-turkey price massacres kicking off the Christmas shopping season, and no Thanksgiving day (American) football on TV. But chances are, if there’s an American restaurant nearby, they’re planning to dish out turkey day treats on Thursday. The most notable, and aptly named, is Thanksgiving American Market in Paris’ 4tharrondissement Here, Cajun cuisine spices up the Marais district during the rest of the year, but come late November, a special Thanksgiving menu warms the crisp Parisian Autumn. TAM even offers a catering service. What better way to serve up the traditional family dinner feel, without trying to squeeze an American sized meal out of a French sized kitchen.
Another authentically American restaurant, Pumpkins in Grenoble, will surely have plenty of turkey leftovers, as Thanksgiving meals are lined up all the way from Wednesday to Saturday. Americans in Grenoble will have no excuse if they miss out on the cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. With smooth jazz and blues melting into the background, Pumpkins sets the scene for the perfect Thanksgiving meal in the capital of the Alps.
To find out which cities boast an authentic American restaurant, check in the pages jaunes by entering “restaurant americain” into the search field. For the lucky, a trimmed turkey just like back home will be waiting, just a reservation away. Happy Thanksgiving and as they say in France, bon appetit!
Thanksgiving American Market, 20 rue Saint Paul, 75004 PARIS; 01.42.77.68.69. Open for lunch and dinner Wednesday through Saturday. Cajun brunch on Saturday, traditional brunch on Sunday. Prices around 20 euros.
Pumpkins, 33 rue d’Alembert, 38000 GRENOBLE; 04.76.29.48.21. Open for lunch Tuesday through Friday and for dinner Thursday through Saturday. Brunch every other Sunday. Call for details.Prices range from 9 to 15 euros