French NYC is mostly in the Upper East Side around the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF), the French Consulate, and Lycée Français. It’s also in Brooklyn.
NYC’s Little Paris is on Centre St between Broome and Grand. Le District is a lovely French food hall (NYC’s Les Halles) with French markets and restaurants in Battery Park City.
The Statue of Liberty, the icon of NYC, is a gift from France, rather ironically (think Haiti) celebrating the legal end of human slavery in the United States.
Villa Albertine promotes French American artist’s residencies in the Upper East Side.
French NYC News
Five programs of three international dance companies for $20 + fees at one of New York’s leading dance theaters.
NEW YORK CITY CENTER in Midtown, Manhattan
🇺🇸 🇧🇷 🇫🇷 🇮🇳 🇲🇽 🇪🇸
International commercial art priced under $12,000.
METROPOLITAN PAVILION, Chelsea, Manhattan
🇨🇴 🇩🇴 🇫🇷 🇮🇹 🇲🇽 🇵🇪 🇸🇻 🇪🇸
New York’s big fall contemporary art fair anchors Armory Week.
🇦🇷 🇧🇸 🇧🇷 🇨🇱 🇨🇴 🇨🇦 🇲🇽 🇵🇪 🇵🇷 🇻🇪
🇫🇷 🇮🇹 🇪🇸
🇬🇭 🇨🇮 🇳🇬 🇸🇳 🇿🇦
The Independent 20th Century 2023 art fair recasts the recent past with a New York state of mind. 🇺🇸 🇧🇷 🇨🇺 🇫🇷 🇮🇹 🇪🇸 🇹🇹
Chicago the Musical, Hamilton, Here Lies Love, JaJa’s African Hair Braiding, The Lion King, Moulin Rouge, and more.
🇺🇸 🇵🇭 🇫🇷 🇬🇭 🇮🇹 🇵🇷 🇰🇳
The world’s top women’s soccer tournament.
July 20 to August 20, 2023
🇨🇦 🇨🇷 🇭🇹 🇯🇲 🇵🇦 🇺🇸, 🇦🇷 🇧🇷 🇨🇴, 🇲🇦 🇳🇬 🇿🇦 🇿🇲, 🇵🇭
A film festival of Brooklyn’s independent, international energy.
June 2-11, 2023
🇦🇷 🇧🇷 🇨🇩 🇨🇬 🇫🇷 🇮🇳 🇮🇱 🇮🇹 🇰🇪 🇲🇽 🇵🇹 🇱🇨 🇪🇸
We have a lot of problems that we can only solve together, including war, women’s rights, transgender rights, health, environmental destruction, and press freedom.
FILM AT LINCOLN CENTER
May 31 – June 11, 2023
🇧🇷 🇫🇷 🇮🇷 🇮🇹 🇺🇬
Frieze brings hi-end contemporary art galleries from 27 countries to New York. The Frieze Week cluster of art fairs puts New York on the international art calendar.
Hudson Yards, Manhattan
🇳🇮 🇧🇷 🇨🇴 🇫🇷 🇬🇹 🇮🇹 🇿🇦 🇪🇸
31 Latin galleries are among 91 dealers of high-end antique art.
PARK AVENUE ARMORY
Upper East Side
Friday-Tuesday, May 12-16, 2023
🇧🇷 🇫🇷 🇮🇹 🇪🇸
Moulin Rouge! (Best Musical) is at the Hirschfeld on Broadway in open run. (12+) From $69. 🇫🇷
Phantom of the Opera, the longest-running Broadway show, is at the Majestic on Broadway in open run. From $29. (4+) 🇫🇷
The 18th Under the Radar Festival 2023 of new international theatre presents 36 artists from nine countries; at the Public Theater in NoHo, and other downtown venues; from January 4-22, 2023. 🇧🇮🇨🇩🇨🇬🇫🇷🇺🇸🇷🇼🏳️🌈
French Tunisian saxophonist and composer Yacine Boularès plays a “Night in Tunisia;” a Tunis Opera commission that blends Tunisian traditions into Dizzy Gillespie’s classic jazz anthem with rapper Mehdi WMD and singer Nessrine Jabeur; at Lincoln Center’s David Rubenstein Atrium; Wednesday, January 11, 2023 at 7:30pm. FREE! 🇫🇷🇹🇳🇺🇸
The 32nd New York Jewish Film Festival 2023, coproduced with the Jewish Museum, screens 29 Jewish films from around the world; at Film at Lincoln Center in the Walter Reade Theater; from Thursday, January 12-23, 2023. 🇺🇸 🇬🇹 | 🇫🇷 🇮🇹 🇪🇸 | 🇿🇦 | 🇮🇱
PUBLIC THEATER’S UNDER THE RADAR FESTIVAL
“Moby Dick” by Plexus Polaire; a live puppet play about the great white whale; is at NYU Skirball in Greenwich Village, NYC; on January 12-14, 2023. $40. 🇫🇷
“Saint Omer” by Alice Diop, France’s shortlisted Oscar entry, opens at Film at Lincoln Center on Friday, January 13, 2023. In French with English subtitles. 🇸🇳🇫🇷
The New York Jewish Film Festival centerpiece film is the world premiere of “Charlotte Salomon: Life and the Maiden” (2022) by Delphine Coulin & Muriel Coulin. Salomon was a prolific Berlin multimedia artist who was ahead of her time. She was murdered in Auschwitz at age 26. It screens in the Walter Reade Theater at Film at Lincoln Center on Wednesday, January 18, 2023 at 12pm & 6pm. The co-directors will do Q&A. In French with subtitles. From $15. 🇫🇷
The Winter Show 2023, one of America’s leading antiques fairs, is a benefit for East Side House, a community services organization in Mott Haven, The Bronx. The antiques fair is at the Park Avenue Armory in Manhattan’s Upper East Side; for ten days, from Friday-Sunday, January 20-29, 2023. $30. 🇦🇷🇺🇸 | 🇫🇷🇮🇹🇵🇹🇪🇸
For the Master Drawings New York 2023 art fair, 25 art galleries show old masters and new masters from their collections and from visiting international dealers; in Manhattan’s Upper East Side; from Friday, January 20-28, 2023. The exhibition continues online through February 28, 2023. 🇦🇷🇧🇷🇨🇴🇲🇽🇵🇦🇻🇪 | 🇫🇷🇮🇹
The Gipsy Kings, featuring Nicolas Reyes, play French rumba flamenca at City Winery in Chelsea, NYC; on Friday, January 27, 2023 at 7pm and 9pm. 🇪🇸🇫🇷
Scottish classical guitarist Sean Shibe celebrates the Spanish influence on classical guitar through non-Spanish artists including Barrios, Ginastera, Poulenc, Villa-Lobos; at the 92nd Street Y Kaufmann Concert Hall; on Wednesday, February 8, 2023 at 7:30pm. From $25. 🇦🇷 🇧🇷 🇫🇷 🇵🇾 🇪🇸
The 51st Dance on Camera Festival 2023 puts Latin dance on the big screen at Film at Lincoln Center from Friday-Monday, February 10-13, 2023. $17. 🇫🇷 🇮🇳 🇲🇽
French pianist Hélène Grimaud plays classical music by Chopin, Debussy, Satie, R. Schumann and Silvestrov on Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage on Thursday, December 1, 2022 at 8pm. From $36. 🇫🇷
Watch France vs Poland, a FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Round of 16 match, on Sunday, December 4, 2022 at 11am ET. 🇫🇷
Watch England vs France (world #5 vs #4), a FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Quarter-final match, on Saturday, December 10, 2022 at 3pm ET. 🇫🇷
On Sun, Dec 11, Remember Carlos Gardel, the iconic Argentine Tango singer who was born in Toulouse, France in 1890. 🇫🇷🇦🇷
Watch France vs Morocco (world #4 vs #22), a FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Semi-final match, on Wednesday, December 14, 2022 at 3pm ET. 🇫🇷
Israeli American violin legend Itzhak Perlman and Friends; including Ukrainian pianist Emanuel Ax, French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and the Juilliard String Quartet; play Leclair, Mozart and Chausson on Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium/Perlman stage on Wednesday, December 14, 2022 at 8pm. From $84. 🇮🇱🇫🇷
Watch New York City Center Studio 5 Excerpts from George Balanchine’s the Nutcracker® in conversation with Suki Schorer, School of American Ballet instructor and the world’s leading expert in Balanchine technique, on YouTube through December 19, 2022. Free.
World Ballet Day 2022 is a streaming behind-the scenes look at a day in the life of a ballet company including American Ballet Theater, Alvin Ailey American Dance Company, and many leading global ballet companies on Wednesday, November 2, 2022. 🇺🇸 🇧🇷 🇨🇺 🇫🇷 🇮🇹 🇲🇨 🇵🇷 🇿🇦 🇪🇸
German-Ecuadorian Steinway pianist Boris Cepeda RAICES: Piano Works from Europe & South America plays 19th century European music and contemporary classical music from Ecuador and Argentina (Albéniz, Guevara, Canelos, Liszt, Ravel, Ortiz, Cárdenas, and Piazzolla) in the Carnegie Hall Weill Recital Hall on Wednesday, November 2, 2022 at 8pm. From $60. 🇦🇷 🇪🇨 🇫🇷 🇭🇳 🇲🇽 🇪🇸
The David M. Solinger Collection of Post-War masters in Europe and New York was collected by the renowned art lawyer. It features Picasso, Miró, and Dubuffet. The art auction exhibition is on view at Sotheby’s New York in the Upper East Side, Friday, November 4-12, 2022. The auction is Monday, November 14, 2022 at 5:30pm. 🇫🇷 🇪🇸
Sotheby’s Modern Evening Auction of Impressionist, Modern, and Abstract Expressionist masters features Monet, Degas, Pissarro, Gauguin, Matisse, Picasso, Derain; and Varo, Carrington and Torres-García. The art auction exhibition is on view at Sotheby’s New York in the Upper East Side, Friday, November 4-14, 2022. The auction is Monday, November 14, 2022 at 6:30pm. 🇫🇷 🇲🇽 🇪🇸 🇺🇾
Sotheby’s Contemporary Evening Auction, an art auction of ground-breaking contemporary artists, features work by Alice Neel, Josef Albers, François-Xavier Lalanne, Basquiat, Alighiero Boetti, Philip Guston, and Louise Bourgeois who were either Latin or influenced by the Latin world. The art auction exhibition is at Sotheby’s New York in the Upper East Side, Friday, November 4-16, 2022. The auction is Wednesday, November 16, 2022 at 7pm. 🇨🇦 🇨🇺 🇫🇷 🇭🇹 🇵🇷 🇲🇽 🇮🇹
Christie’s 20th Century Evening Sale art auction featuring art from the Impressionists of Paris to the Pop artists of New York City including Monet, Degas, Giacometti, Kahlo and Varo; is on view at Christie’s New York in Rockefeller Center from Saturday, November 12-17. The auction is Thursday, November 17, 2022 at 5:30pm. 🇫🇷 🇮🇹 🇲🇽
Christie’s 21st Century Evening Sale art auction featuring contemporary artists such as Basquiat, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, and Toyin Ojih Odutola; is on view at Christie’s New York in Rockefeller Center from Saturday, November 12-17. The auction is Thursday, November 17, 2022 at 8pm. 🇫🇷 🇭🇹 🇳🇬 🇵🇷
Christie’s Post-War & Contemporary Art Day Sale art auction featuring masters of the period, is on view at Christie’s New York in Rockefeller Center Saturday, November 12-17, 2022. The auction is Friday, November 18, 2022 at 10am. 🇨🇴 🇫🇷 🇬🇭 🇮🇹 🇲🇽 🇪🇸
Christie’s Impressionist & Modern Works on Paper art auction featuring works by Picasso, Miró, and Degas; is on view at Christie’s New York in Rockefeller Center Saturday, November 12-18, 2022. The auction is Saturday, November 19, 2022 at 10am. 🇫🇷 🇪🇸
Christie’s Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale art auction featuring paintings and sculptures by Picasso, Bonnard, Toulouse Lautrec, Sisley, and Rodin; is on view at Christie’s New York in Rockefeller Center Saturday, November 12-19, 2022. The auction is Saturday, November 19, 2022 at 2pm. 🇫🇷 🇮🇹 🇪🇸 🇺🇾
Grammy-winning choir The Crossing, with Argentine French avant-garde cellist Maya Beiser, perform the multimedia New York Premiere of “Michael Gordon’s Travel Guide to Nicaragua.” Gordon is the founder of international music group Bang on the Can. This Carnegie Hall co-commission tells the story of his family’s journey from Poland to Nicaragua. It’s in Carnegie Hall Zankel Hall on Thursday, November 17, 2022 at 7:30pm. From $. ✡️ 🇦🇷 🇫🇷 🇳🇮
New York City Ballet presents “George Balanchine, The Nutcracker” at the David H Koch Theater from Friday, November 25 – Saturday, December 31, 2022.
The Medieval Festival NYC 2022 is in Fort Tryon Park in Washington Heights on Sunday, October 2, 2022 from 11:30am – 6pm. Free with food and crafts for purchase. 🇫🇷🇮🇹🇵🇹🇷🇴🇪🇸
FIAF CROSSING THE LINE FESTIVAL
Fouad Boussouf: Näss blends hip-hop, contemporary dance with traditional Moroccan dance in their debut at the Joyce Theater in Chelsea, Manhattan, Tuesday-Sunday, October 18-23, 2022. From $10. 🇫🇷🇲🇦
The IFPDA Print Fair 2022 brings world-class fine art print dealers, galleries and publishers to Javits Center in Hudson Yards, Friday-Sunday, October 28-30, 2022 with a VIP Preview on Thursday, October 27. From $25. 🇨🇦🇫🇷🇪🇸
Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection Part I & Part II, the largest and most exceptional art auction in history, is on view at Christie’s New York in Rockefeller Center; Saturday, October 29 – November 8. The auction is Wednesday-Thursday, November 9-10, 2022. 🇦🇷 🇫🇷 🇮🇹 🇲🇽 🇷🇴 🇪🇸
French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet plays Debussy Préludes on the Carnegie Hall Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage on Sunday, October 30, 2022 at 2pm. From $20. 🇫🇷
Gracelee Lawrence: Marisol, art inspired by the New York Venezuelan French artist Marisol Escobar, opens with a reception at Heroes Gallery in the Lower East Side, on Thursday, September 8, 2022 from 5-8pm. The show runs to October 22. heroesgallery.gallery 🇻🇪🇫🇷
The Affordable Art Fair New York Fall 2022, of contemporary art priced from $100-$10,000, is at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea, Manhattan, Thursday-Sunday, September 22-25, 2022. 🇦🇷🇨🇦🇨🇷🇫🇷🇮🇹🇪🇸
The 60th New York Film Festival 2022 is at Film at Lincoln Center, September 30 – October 16, 2022. From $17. 🇦🇷🇫🇷🇮🇹🇳🇮🇷🇴🇪🇸
Celebrate Bastille Day on Thu, Jul 14. 🇫🇷
FIAF’s Bastille Day 2022 Celebration is a street fair of French culture on Madison Avenue from 59th St to 63rd St on Sunday, July 10, 2022 from 12noon to 5pm. Free. 🇫🇷
Madeleine Peyroux sings French-influenced Jazz for the Blue Note Jazz Festival at Sony Hall in the Times Square Theater District on Thu-Fri, Jun 2-3 at 8pm (6pm doors). From $50. 🇫🇷
Celebrate La Fête de la Musique (World Music Day), the Parisian tradition of live street music on the night of the Summer Solstice, Tue, Jun 21. 🇫🇷
Henri Matisse : The Red Studio (1911), looks back at one of the foundational works of Modern Art, at MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art in Midtown, Sun, May 1 – Sep 10. 🇫🇷
Bernard Piffaretti : Pick Up shows new repetitions by the French abstractionist at Lisson Gallery in Chelsea, Wed, May 4 – Jun 11. lissongallery.com 🇫🇷
Celebrate Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) on Mar 1, 2022.
The Django All-Stars play French Jazz Manouche at The Django in Tribeca on Thu, Mar 3 at 10pm. 🇫🇷
The Rendez-Vous with French Cinema film festival is at Film at Lincoln Center, Mar 3-13. $15. 🇫🇷
The New York International Children’s Film Festival 2022 (NYICFF) screens Oscar-qualifying children’s films for a variety of ages at the SVA Theatre in Chelsea, Manhattan, Fri-Sun, Mar 4-19, 2022. From $17. 🇦🇷🇧🇷🇨🇦🇫🇷🇮🇱🇲🇽🇵🇸🇺🇬🇺🇸
In Django A Go Go, French guitarist Stephane Wrembel plays Jazz Manouche at The Town Hall in Midtown, Sat, Mar 5 at 8pm. From $47. 🇫🇷
Fictions of Emancipation: Carpeaux Recast, exposes the duplicity of colonial representations of the Black figure, in contrast to the ways important contemporary artists such as Kara Walker and Kehinde Wiley represent themselves, at the Met Museum in Central Park, Thu, Mar 10, 2022 – Mar 5, 2023. 🇫🇷🇺🇸
Propagazioni: Giuseppe Penone at Sèvres is an installation of very meditative Arte Povera porcelains made by the Italian artist at the Sèvres factory in France, at The Frick Collection in the Upper East Side, Thu, Mar 17 – Aug 28. 🇮🇹🇫🇷
Nina Childress: Who’s That Girl?, an exhibition of new paintings and sculptures about the youth and beauty of women, opens at Nathalie Karg Gallery in the Lower East Side on Thu, Feb 10, and runs to Mar 19. nathaliekarg.com 🇫🇷🇺🇸
Vincent Peirani and Émile Parisien: Abrazo play French tango at Joe’s Pub in NoHo, Manhattan on Tue, Mar 22 at 9:30pm (9pm doors). $35. 🇦🇷🇫🇷
The Spring Affordable Art Fair of contemporary art under $10,000, is at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea, Wed-Sun, Mar 23-27, 2022. From $30. 🇨🇦🇫🇷🇮🇹
The Outsider Art auction at Christie’s in Rockefeller Center is Thu, Feb 3 at 10am.
The Outsider Art Fair of art created outside the art industrial complex, is at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea, Thu-Sun, Feb 3-6. outsiderfair.com
Manhattan Theatre Club’s Prayer for the French Republic, David Cromer’s tale of a Jewish family trying to stay safe in World War II Paris, is on Stage I at New York City Center in Midtown, Manhattan on Feb 1-
27. Extended to Mar 27. From $99. 🇫🇷✡️
Jacques Louis David: Radical Draftsman, about the leading Neoclassicist working during and after the French Revolution, is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Central Park, Thu, Feb 17 – May 15. 🇫🇷
Doc Fortnight 2022, MoMA’s documentary film festival, is online to members and in-person at the Museum of Modern Art in Midtown, Wed, Feb 23 – Mar 10. 🇧🇷🇫🇷🇲🇽🇵🇭🇪🇸
Surrealism Beyond Borders is at The Met Fifth Avenue in Central Park to Jan 30. 🇨🇺🇭🇹🇲🇶🇵🇷 | 🇦🇷🇨🇱🇨🇴 | 🇫🇷🇮🇹🇪🇸
Stephane Wrembel plays Django Reinhardt style French Jazz Manouche at National Sawdust in Williamsburg, Brooklyn on Sat, Jan 29 at 7:30pm. $36. 🇫🇷
Selections from the Department of Drawings and Prints: Revolution, Resistance, and Activism is at The Met Fifth Avenue in Central Park through Jan 17, 2022. 🇫🇷🇭🇹🇮🇳🇲🇽🇪🇸
Artist’s Choice: Yto Barrada – A Raft is at MoMA in Midtown through Jan 9, 2022 🇫🇷🇲🇦
Stephane Wrembel plays Django Reinhardt French Jazz Manouche at Barbès in Park Slope, Brooklyn on Sundays from 10pm – 1am. $20. 🇫🇷
Benedetta, Paul Verhoeven’s story of a nun’s forbidden passion, opened at Film at Lincoln Center on Fri, Dec 3 and ran in NYC to Feb 24. 🇫🇷
Mademoiselle Malvina sings French Cabaret at Minton’s Playhouse in Harlem on Wed, Dec 22 at 7 & 9pm (6pm doors). $20. 🇫🇷
Lionel Sabatté: Possible Remains of our Future is at Ceysson & Bénétière in the Upper East Side Wed, Nov 10 – Dec 18. ceyssonbenetiere.com 🇫🇷
The New Museum 2021 Triennial: Soft Water Hard Stone is in the Lower East Side, Oct 28 – Jan 23, 2022. 🇦🇷🇧🇷🇯🇲🇲🇽🇵🇪🇺🇸|🇨🇩🇿🇦|🇮🇳🇵🇭|🇫🇷
The E/AB Editions Artists’ Book Fair is virtual Oct 18-31. FREE eabfair.org 🇧🇷🇨🇦🇫🇷🇮🇱🇮🇹🇲🇽
The 59th New York Film Festival is at Film at Lincoln Center, Fri, Sep 24 – Oct 10. 🇦🇴🇧🇴🇧🇷🇨🇦🇨🇴🇫🇷🇮🇳🇮🇹🇲🇽🇵🇹🇷🇴🇪🇸🇺🇸
Cézanne Drawing is at MoMA in Midtown through Sat, Sep 25, 2021. 🇫🇷
The Affordable Art Fair is at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea Thu-Sun, Sep 23-26. From $25 🇨🇦🇨🇺🇫🇷🇲🇽🇪🇸🇺🇸
Little Girl by Sébastien Lifshitz (2020), a gentle story of how a 3-year old boy deals with the world after declaring herself a girl, opens at Film Forum in Hudson Square in French with subtitles on Fri, Sep 17. 🇫🇷🏳️🌈
Altuzarra shows at New York Fashion Week in the Studio at Spring Studios on Thu, Sep 9, 2021 at 3pm. 🇫🇷
Niki de Saint Phalle: Structures for Life is at MoMA in Midtown through Mon, Sep 6, 2021. 🇫🇷
French Festivals NYC
New York City’s big French fesivals are Bastille Day on 60th St produced by FIAF, the Rendez-vous with French Cinema film festival at Film at Lincoln Center with UniFrance, and French Restaurant Week.
French New York City
French NYC includes the Statue of Liberty and ballet.
Bastille Day on 60th St is New York City’s big New York celebration. Mardi Gras is our big international celebration. FIAF is NYC’s French cultural center and biggest French library.
The concept of “Latin America” is French. New York Latin Culture Magazine began publishing in Paris, France as Tango Beat® in 2009. English is just French badly pronounced. Oh là là.
The Statue of Liberty, the icon of New York City and the United States, is a gift of the French people. The French Consulate/Embassy is in the Upper East Side.
- Albertine is a French bookstore at the French Embassy in the Upper East Side. albertine.com 🇫🇷
- Chanel is a French luxury goods house with a flagship store on 57th Street in Midtown.
- FIAF, French Institute Alliance Française, is NYC’s French cultural center and biggest French library.
- Givenchy is a French luxury goods house on Madison Avenue in the Upper East Side.
- Hermès is the luxury goods house of the French elite. It has a flagship store in the Upper East Side.
- International Academy is a French and Spanish immersion grade school in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.
- Le District is a French food court in Battery Park City.
- Louis Vuitton is a French luxury goods house with a flagship store in Midtown.
- Lycée Français is a French grade school in the Upper East Side.
- PSG NY is a Paris Saint-Germain soccer supporter’s club.
- Rendez-vous with French Cinema is a French film festival at Film at Lincoln Center.
Manhattan’s French community is in the Upper East Side around FIAF and the Lycée Français. Brooklyn’s French community is in Carroll Gardens around the International Academy and in Greenpoint.
Paris was the world capital before New York, “Oh là là.”
Ballet is an Italian court dance that was developed in France.
France is famous for its wine and champagne.
Cirque Nouveau (as in Cirque du Soleil) is French-Canadian, but its mime circus culture is very French.
The Slave Plantation Model
France colonized much of West Africa and ran a major slave trade from there. In the Americas, French controlled the waterways. French pirates took over the western part of the island of Hispaniola from the Spanish. It must have been a real paradise, because the French always chose the best land.
The French sugar colony of Saint-Domingue (1625-1804, now Haiti) practiced the cruelest form of industrial slavery. It was the richest French colony and the richest Caribbean colony. It became a business model with a highly developed literature and guidebooks you could use to run your plantation. It was sort of a “Farmer’s Almanac.”
Because it was so profitable, the French slaving model was copied around the Caribbean. It was also carried around by French plantation owners, including those who settled in Spanish Trinidad. It also went with the diaspora from Saint-Domingue during the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804).
The British eventually copied the model from the Bahamas, and used it as the model for slavery in the United States. That highly structured business model became the foundation of American slavery and American big business.
There are French footprints everywhere in the Caribbean, even in places that aren’t French. The first family of bomba, the Puerto Rican folk music and dance, says their family tradition comes from a French plantation in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico.
The Caribbean Carnival Model
Caribbean Carnival is indirectly French. It developed in Trinidad in response to French masquerade balls on Mardi Gras. It went really wild after abolition. The term “mas” for a Carnival group comes the French “masquerade.”
Voodoo and Vodou
Voodoo and Vodou are Orisha faiths based on the Indigenous faiths of West Africa.
There is nothing bad or scary about any of this. These are beautiful folk faiths based on nature. Colonizers demonized everything African and made up a bunch of nonsense stories that people still associate with Voodoo and Vodou today.
The modern country of Benin is the home of Vodun. The old Dahomey capital Porto-Novo was a major slave port. The French called it the “côte des esclaves” (the Slave Coast) and brought Africans from there to Saint-Domingue and other parts of the French Caribbean.
In Haiti, Vodun faith was syncretized (blended) with French Catholicism into Voodoo and in New Orleans into Vodou. We get interesting blends like “Bondyé,” the Voodoo supreme God. The name derives from the French, “Bon Dieu” (Good God).
Jazz isn’t directly French, but there are some roots. Jazz is from New Orleans, before that the Caribbean, and before that Africa. The Saint-Domingue/Haitian Diaspora brought a stronger level of syncopation to Cuba and New Orleans.
For a time Africans were allowed to have a market and sing and dance at Place Congo (Congo Square) in New Orleans. Jazz and African American culture both begin in Congo Square.
Pornography is universal, but modern pornography begins with French postcards with pictures of prostitutes.
High Heel Shoes
High heel shoes come from the boots of Turkish cavalry. They are like cowboy boots. The heel prevents the rider’s foot from falling through the stirrup which can be deadly.
This style was copied by European courts when the Turks were one of the great military powers. For a time both sexes wore high heels. Red soles were a mark of royalty. Christian Louboutin copied that.
Eventually men’s clothing changed to be easier to work in. French postcard makers put high heels on the prostitutes they photographed. That sexualized the heels and they’ve been with us ever since.
French culture was long considered the world’s high class culture. It remains with us in many ways that are just not well taught in the United States. Vive la France!