All of us at Insincerely Her are keen to visit the provincial pop-up at Como House this weekend. In light of recent events, we have not been discouraged, but motivated and more determined than ever to unite for liberty, equality and fraternity at this year’s Paris to Provence.
We spoke with Laura Rancie, founder and director of Paris to Provence to prepare ourselves (and our palates) for the festival.
Melbourne is home to many exquisite venues, why has Paris to Provence returned to Como House and Garden this year?
First and foremost, when planning and visualising what kind of festival I wanted to create, I was very conscious of it not being a market, or exhibition or an expo. The gardens of Como House and of course, the house as a backdrop, lend itself beautifully to the type of atmosphere and feeling I am trying to evoke for all those who visit. We want to create a whimsical pop-up French village and express through a festival-medium what I love so much about France; its culture, food and history.
This is the festival’s 6th anniversary, how has the program grown or differed from previous years?
In the beginning I really had no idea what to expect.
I was very much going into a short-lived idea with my eyes closed. I don’t think it was ignorance really, but just a well-intended fun idea – ‘wouldn’t it be fun to create a French festival’. These days it’s a serious 9-month commitment for a 3-day event. There are so many individual elements to plan and organise and follow through with and the end result is always glorious and very, very satisfying.
Each year I try to keep a good balance between the cliché’s that Aussies associate with France and that are quite fun, with a good mix of actual French traditions and cultural elements. Some examples of this are the croissant throwing contest or the escargot eating race which is a bit of fun, and a bit cliché. But there are also the major features, which change each year to better represent actual life in France. This year that includes a broadcast of the “Fete de la musique” concert from Paris, the “Santons” de Provence display and a French photography exhibition where people have emailed us their original photographs of France. We then collate and enlarge these images and put them together in a stunning exhibition.
People can vote on their fave and win a prize along the way.
Which treats (sweet or savoury) would you recommend to try during the festival?
It’s exciting each year to eat my way through France in three days. One year, Madame Sousou’s “Mitraillette” was hands down my favourite, last year it was Agathe Patisserie’s cruffin. I’m looking forward to finding my favourite again in “Les halles de Toulouse” and “Les Champs Élysées” which are our food precincts in 2015.
For those of us who haven’t experienced Paris first-hand, what is one thing that is inherently Parisian about this event?
Whilst the exhibitors are spread from all regions of France, I find that many of our staff are young French students on exchange or on a working holiday visa who are from Paris. When creating certain areas of the festival, I had “Montmartre” in mind – that is, a lively, hip and active area full of musicians, artists and cafés. This year we’ve got an art school that will be hosting open-air painting classes throughout the grounds. It will be fun seeing them in the gardens with their easels and canvases – just like in Montmartre.
Last of all, what’s a girl to wear to this weekend’s festivities?!
Welcome to my world! I have to come up with not one, but THREE fabulous outfits each year and unfortunately because I am running around all over, heels are definitely not an option for me. I am loving Scanlan and Theodore’s style at the moment and have been lusting after a particular dress there for one of the festival days, also I’m loving some of the linen skirts and tops at Trenery – they’re very French provincial.
In a united front of solidarity and support, we will be joining the chorus of attendees and exhibitors to sing the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise”, with one voice at Paris to Provence: Melbourne’s French Festival.
-7pm Friday 20th
-12pm Saturday 21st
-12pm Sunday 22nd
Paris to Provence (Festival Français de Melbourne)
Friday 20th, Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd November
Como House & Garden – South Yarra
Beat the queue and book your tickets online: