Whether you’re celebrating Bastille Day or you’re just in a Paris state of mind, here are a few things you can do to have a French-inspired day in NYC.
Savor a cronut.
Sure, there are countless French bakeries you could start your day from. But no food embodies today’s theme of Franco-New York fusion more than Dominique Ansel’s cronut. Plus there’s something so satisfying knowing that you scored this coveted pastry. If you’re not planning on ordering in advance, make sure you arrive early at the Soho bakery. After all these years, there’s still a line.
See how many Beaux Arts buildings you can spot as you walk through Manhattan.
If anything, the French have certainly influenced the architecture in New York City. Since the early days of the republic, Americans have been going over to France and other European countries to learn the secrets of how to build beautiful buildings. The Beaux Arts style of the 19th century was the pinnacle of our French tutelage, resulting in the creation of structures like Grand Central Terminal, the Brooklyn Museum, the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch at Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza, and the Washington Square Arch.
Find your new favorite French novel at Albertine Bookstore.
Does it surprise you to learn that there is only one French-language bookstore in all of New York City? Well, mon ami, there are more surprises in store for you at this one-of-a-kind bookshop. When you visit, let me know which thing you find more impressive: the art and decor of the building’s first floor or the night sky mural on the upper level.
Stroll through the French section of the Conservatory Garden in Central Park.
Just across the street from Albertine, you’ll find a garden that could rival the ones of Europe, probably because it was modeled after them. Central Park’s Conservatory Garden is split into three sections, which are all lovely to visit. But today our focus is on the French garden with its colorful tulips, Korean chrysanthemums, and its sculpture of Three Dancing Maidens.
View the Met’s collection of French art.
New York doesn’t have any museums solely dedicated to French art, but with its sheer volume of paintings by French artists, the Met is not too shabby of an option. They themselves brag that their “galleries of nineteenth-century French paintings are second only to the museums of Paris.” Be the judge of that when you spend some time browsing through their collection.
Have a meal at a French restaurant in Carroll Gardens.
Over the past couple of years the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, and Carroll Gardens—I refuse to call them by the abomination of a name that is BoCoCa—have gained a reputation of being a budding Little Paris. In addition to a cluster of French eateries, the area is home to a well-stocked French deli, and plethora French language schools. Maybe it’s time to enroll in that language class you’ve been putting off….
Admire the Statue of Liberty.
Although the Statue of Liberty is now viewed as a symbol of hope for a better life for those who arrive on America’s shores, the 305-foot-tall statue was initially intended to be a symbol of the Franco-American alliance and their shared value of democracy. As you look out at the harbor, reflect on how the same guy who built the Eiffel Tower helped with the construction of New York’s towering lady.
New York will never be Paris, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to find some French fun in NYC! Which of these activities will you be trying the next time you need your French fix?
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