Now in its sixth year, the French festival So Frenchy So Chic returned to Sydney over the weekend, after a jaunt in Melbourne 7 days prior. The festival brings together a wide array of French food, drink and music, while Sydney in turn provided some of the best weather we’ve seen this summer, as what felt like thousands came out to enjoy a day by the water in Glebe.
Having attended this festival several times in the past, its 2016 incarnation felt the biggest, most organised and most enjoyable of all its iterations over the years. Queues were minimal – be it for food, drink or the bathrooms – the sound was fantastic (even if the venue didn’t provide as good sight lines as some prior locations) and there was a wonderful atmosphere. There was more choice, too, particularly when it came to the food. On arrival I enjoyed a burger with steak, sauteed mushrooms, bearnaise and a bit of rocket for $10.
Later, some raclette cheese was melted and poured over a plate of potatoes, meats and salad for what was a gluttonous but delicious highlight of the day ($14).
And if you just needed something to keep you going, a cone of meats and breadsticks would set you back only $5. Elsewhere you could find crepes, baguettes, quiches and stunning sausages with Maille mustard (jars of which you could take home for $3 – the honey mustard being our personal favourite).
Bottles of wine were $40, with a Lionel Osmin & Cie Sauvignon Blanc as our drink of choice (and an excellent one at that). I’d love to see more events do this approach – it certainly cuts down on queues as groups head to the bar far less often. And with families able to bring kids under 12 for free, it creates a relaxed atmosphere that serves as the catalyst for a wonderful day in the sun. And this is only buoyed by the music on display, which saw five bands hit the stage throughout the afternoon.
The beautiful sounds of Sophie Maurin opened things up, ahead of Bertrand Belin, who proved why he was considered one of France’s “most fascinating chanteurs”. The Limiñanas (pictured above), meanwhile, started getting a few of the more eager members of the crowd dancing, with music that swam in the history of the 1960s. The early psychedelic tunes, the art rock, the french pop of the era – all the while feeling completely modern, as they jumped between French and English lyrics. But in many ways, the group were only the entree before the main course – a double helping of two of France’s most enjoyable live acts: Nouvelle Vague (no strangers to the So Frenchy So Chic stage, pictured below) and Aix-en-Provence’s Deluxe.
In their first visit to our shores since 2012, Nouvelle Vague saw the festival’s dance floor truly pack out, as they ran through favourites off their new release I Could Be Happy – and a run of the live covers that have made this French group so beloved across Europe and around the world. The Buzzcock‘s “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)”, Ramones‘ “I Wanna Be Sedated” and more flooded the entertaining set, and served as personal highlights. Deluxe went on to close the festival, keeping everyone dancing with their eclectic music, giving us plenty off their latest LP, Stachelight.
Niche festivals like this are all too rare in Sydney – and even rarer are the ones that are done right. Sitting on the light rail line, providing great food, music and atmosphere, there was nothing not to love about the afternoon. Where other events have faltered, So Frenchy So Chic has become one of Australia’s finest annual traditions, bringing us some incredible talent that we’d never have the opportunity to see otherwise. I for one can’t wait to come back next year.
Keep an eye on the official event website for details about next year’s event!