The weather's perfect for an outdoor, French-Canadian kitchen party
By Cory Schachtel | November 29, 2023
It’s basically December in Edmonton, so you know what that means: patio season has officially begun. At least it has — or will, this weekend — in one of the most magical spots in the city, and certainly the Frenchiest.
“The patio is open for the winter!” says Allen Jacobson, cultural and festival manager of La Cité Francophone. “So people who go to Cafe Bicyclette can enjoy the fireplaces there, and have their hot chocolate and wine outdoors,” he says, adding that while “official winter patio season starts” December 2, “people have already been outside enjoying hot chocolate without the roaring fireplaces.”
Most anglophone Edmontonians know La Cité Francophone for its outdoor Flying Canoë Volant festival (one of the largest outdoor winter festivals in western Canada), but Jacobson emphasizes the work and services the cultural centre’s tenants — from “the school board to medical and law services” — provide the French population throughout Edmonton and Alberta.
But the patio — like the cafe, theatre and banquet hall — is for everyone. And the best way to officially open it for the season is a French-Canadian kitchen party.
“People can enjoy the wonderful culinary experiences of Cafe Bicyclette and then take it outside. Daniel Gervais will be playing — he’s a North American fiddle champ — along with another musician or two. And Sara Fedoration is the caller for the evening. So she’ll be calling the French-Canadian jigs and reels.”
The unusually warm weather makes things more inviting, but even if a strong winter chill rolls through you can escape to the clear, cozy confines of the new, 36-foot heated dome — “It’s a serious piece of patio real estate,” Jacobson says.
But it’s an intentionally un-serious event. Even if you don’t know the words, you can still enjoy the songs while taking in the centre’s fire-lit sights (good wine and food break all language barriers anyway). “We’re inclusive and welcoming — you don’t have to speak French to join us. It’s historically the French Quarter of Edmonton, and that’s one of the reasons La Cité Francophone is based here. But we’re here to share and celebrate and explore our Francophone culture with everyone.”