Experience French Culture in San Diego’s North Park Community

Dated: 09/12/2018

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Experience French Culture in San Diego’s North Park Community


North Park is a beautifully vibrant San Diego hamlet.  It has ranked in the top 20 Hippest Hipster Neighborhoods of the United States, according to Forbes Magazine.  Indeed, North Park’s commercial district has plenty to offer visitors and residents alike.  There are even opportunities to experience French culture here.  Who knew the “Vive la France!” spirit was thriving in North Park?  If you have an affinity for anything French, here are some recommendations to tickle your Francophile propensities:

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French Cuisine

The French are famous for their culinary expertise.  Even the word ‘chef’ is French in origin and is highly regarded in the English language.  It’s no wonder then that the mention of French cuisine immediately brings to mind visions of fantastical gourmet fare, widely respected Michelin stars, and every tantalizing chef concoction for a pastry or dessert…


Et Voilà! French Bistro.  French traditions and classic recipes are melded with a fashionable modern accent in this tasty destination.  If you long for the sophistication of France in Southern California, Et Voilà! French Bistro is sure to please you.


The Smoking Goat Restaurant.  This award-winning foodie favorite has been billed as “rustic, yet refined” as well as “imaginative, yet unpretentious.”  Europhiles are drawn to the establishment’s commitment to sustainable, organic farm-to-table ingredients.  Gastronomic magic will mesmerize your tastebuds at this memorable, edgy bistro.


Café Madeleine North Park.  Sweet and savory describes this Parisian-inspired Art Nouveau style noshery.  Specializing in crepes, panini, and quiche, it’s easy to see why Café Madeleine North Park has generated serious buzz as a brunch locale.  Indulge in the scrumptious offerings while taking in the French touches of Toulouse-Lautrec art gracing its walls.  Here you can almost imagine yourself whisked away to some Gallic hideaway in the Mediterranean.


La Crêperie North Park.  Renowned as the oldest family-owned creperie in San Diego, this restaurant is blooming with energy and joie de vivre.  The constancy of the place has made it one of North Park’s hottest gathering spots – especially with all its delectably appetizing plates to splurge on.  Satisfy any of your Francophile food cravings here.


Charcuterie from The Heart & Trotter.  The word ‘charcuterie’ is etymologically French and refers to prepared meats – e.g. deli cold cuts.  The best place to purchase charcuterie is from the North Park butcher shop known as The Heart & Trotter.  If you check their website’s calendar of events, you might even get a chance to attend butchery classes that they offer.  You’ll learn how to portion an animal into primal and retail cuts, how to prepare and cure meats with seasonings, as well as how to package meats for freezer storage.  Because these lessons are hands-on, students get to take home some of the meats they’ve prepared during their class.  Classes are open to all levels – from home cooks to aspiring butchers and even seasoned chefs.  If classes aren’t your thing, you can always purchase meats at The Heart & Trotter’s shop and give them as gifts.


French Cultural Experience in North Park Proper

There is, after all, more to France than just food – and North Park community has several opportunities to immerse oneself in something French-like.


American School of French Marquetry.  Marquetry is the art of decorating wood with particular tools and methods perfected by the French as far back as the 17th century.  At the American School of French Marquetry, students of all ages and levels can learn traditional French marquetry techniques in addition to newer methods.

Morley Field Velodrome.  Have you ever wanted to experience what the celebrated Tour de France is like?  Well, count yourself awesomely fortunate!  North Park is home to the only velodrome in all of the Greater San Diego region.  A velodrome is a sporting arena designed for bicycle racing.  The Morley Field Velodrome was built in 1976.  Many elite US cycling athletes have called the Morley Field Velodrome their home training ground.  What’s more, the Morley Field Velodrome offers races, workouts, and bike racing classes for all levels.  


French Cultural Experience in the Greater North Park community

North Park sprawls into neighboring hamlets to create the Greater North Park community – and here as well can be found more prospects to learn about the French culture…


The House of France in Balboa Park.  Bordering the southwest of North Park is Balboa Park, San Diego’s celebrated ‘urban cultural’ park.  One can learn more about the French culture at the House of France, located in Balboa Park’s International Cottages Center.  Throughout the year, the House of France hosts many French cultural events that are open to the public.  


The Cabrillo Academy of the Sword.  Swordfighting was once ubiquitous until the arrival of firearms.  European swordsmanship then transformed from a battlefield staple into a military training regimen for fitness, eventually evolving into sport.  There were several stylistic schools of swordsmanship – the German, the Italian, and the Spanish.  The Italian school of swordsmanship was the precursor of fencing as we know it today.  Italian fencing was later improved upon rather considerably by the French, so much so that many of today’s fencing terms are derived from the French.  Because French culture and fencing are historically intertwined, it seemed fitting to include the Cabrillo Academy of the Sword in the list of French cultural experiences offered by the Greater North Park community.  The Cabrillo Academy of the Sword is San Diego’s oldest fencing club.


From English to French language instruction.  Winner of the 2014 Award for Best Language School in San Diego as well as the People Love Us On Yelp 2017 Award, From English to French provides French language lessons.  Not only are they offering private lessons and online classes, but they can likewise tailor courses to suit small groups and even corporate services.  So, if you’re itching to become fluent in French, have a go with the affordable classes administered by From English to French, located about a mile away from the iconic North Park sign on University Avenue.

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Jason Belangoy

Originally a Bay Area native, Jason moved temporarily to San Diego, to study for his real estate licensing exam. He passed 3 months later, but fell in love and now calls San Diego home. He’s the yo....

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