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Recommendation

Croissant Critique: Verzênay Pâtisserie

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Welcome to the fifth installment of our Croissant Critique series! Our team took a trip to Verzenay—not the town in north-east France, but Verzênay Pâtisserie in Lincoln Park! Pâtissière and owner Arshiya Farheen opened the bakery after studying French culinary arts in Paris, and thanks to her delicious skills, you can find the treats from Verzênay at the Green City Market, and in hotels, coffee shops, and about 15 Whole Foods stores. We just had to see what all the hype was about!

We rated each pastry based on six different factors: flakiness, flavor, butteriness, lamination (how shiny they are), presentation (how they look), and whether they’re more traditional or innovative. Sound tasty? Allons-y !

Read on to learn our thoughts on each croissant that we sampled!

Chocolate Croissant

How gorgeous is this pain au chocolat ?! It tasted just as great as it looked! The texture was fantastic – super flaky while preserving the butteriness that we need in a good croissant. It wasn’t an overload of chocolate, but just enough to give a lovely mocha flavor throughout. What makes this croissant perfect for a sweet tooth is the unexpected caramelization on top! The sweetness on top makes it taste a bit like a dessert, but if you want dessert for breakfast, we’d never blame you! With a beautiful and sleek presentation, Verzênay’s chocolate croissant is one of the best we’ve had in our 5 critiques!

Final Grade

  • Flakiness: 10/10
  • Flavor: 8/10
  • Butteriness: 8/10
  • Lamination: 10/10
  • Presentation: 10/10
  • Innovative vs. Traditional: traditional, with a modern presentation

Classic Croissant

If you don’t have a sweet tooth, or want something a little more classic for your petit déjeuner, we recommend this fantastic plain croissant. We loved the texture: very buttery and moist on the inside, but with a satisfying flaky crunch on the outside. It’s the perfect size for breakfast or a snack – not too big or too small – and with a beautiful golden color on top, this is truly a wonderful and authentic croissant!

Final Grade

  • Flakiness: 10/10
  • Flavor: 7/10
  • Butteriness: 9/10
  • Lamination: 8/10
  • Presentation: 8/10
  • Innovative vs. Traditional: traditional

Pecan Almond Croissant

Here, we started branching into the more innovative treats at Verzênay. This almond croissant brings in a deliciously complementary pecan flavor for those who love an extra nutty taste! The bites with the almond slices were especially divine, and with its understated sweetness, this more crunchy pastry pairs very well with coffee!

Final Grade

  • Flakiness: 10/10
  • Flavor: 8/10
  • Butteriness: 6/10
  • Lamination: 5/10
  • Presentation: 7.5/10
  • Innovative vs. Traditional: traditional, but with the fun addition of pecans

Raspberry Rose Croissant

If you’re living for the floral flavor trend, this croissant is calling your name! The first thing you notice with the raspberry rose croissant is how beautiful it is. With a tortoise-shell-like complexion, a strip of sugary goodness, and an edible flower petal, it’s the most photogenic croissant we’ve ever had!

But let’s stay on topic… onto the flavor. The raspberry filling throughout reminded us of a jelly donut in croissant form, but the balance between flaky and buttery gave us the traditional texture we’re always looking for. As for the rose flavor: you definitely have to like rose to enjoy this croissant, but we thought it complemented the classic flavors without overpowering them. It all depends on your preferences: our croissant critic who prefers less sweet pastries could have gone without the fondant-like strip on top, but the sweet-tooth critic wants the taste of this croissant in a candle!

Final Grade

  • Flakiness: 10/10
  • Flavor: 9/10, if you like rose flavor
  • Butteriness: 6.5/10
  • Lamination: 7/10
  • Presentation: 10/10
  • Innovative vs. Traditional: innovative

Take our word for it: Verzênay Pâtisserie’s croissants are as tasty as they are beautiful! Swing by the bakery at 2507 N Lincoln Ave to take advantage of this gem in Lincoln Park!

Thank you for joining us on our third Croissant Critique! For more French food and culture, take a look at the Alliance Française de Chicago’s wine & gastronomy events. We also offer a wide array of French classes, summer camps, social events, and more. Keep your eyes peeled for our next Croissant Critique. À bientôt !

Monthly Médiathèque: Août

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Le personnel de notre Médiathèque a rassemblé une liste de six livres différents à lire en août, avec des options pour chaque lecteur, quel que soit leur âge. Vous pouvez trouver tous ces livres dans notre Médiathèque ! Allez, on va lire !

Pour les petits

Selon Éditions Milan, ces livres présentent la Revolution française, et “les textes courts et les belles illustrations documentaires racontent la grande aventure de l’histoire de France aux plus petits.” Elles sont parfaites pour les lecteurs à partir de 3 ans !

Pour les adolescents

« Paris, sous la Révolution » est un roman historique pour des lecteurs de niveau avancé. Ce livre est un bon moyen d’en savoir plus sur la Révolution française !

Pour les adultes avec un niveau élevé

« Candide » par Voltaire, publié en 1759, est un classique ! Selon Fnac, Voltaire « nous fait partager les épreuves fictives d’un jeune homme simple, confronté aux leurres de l’optimisme, mais qui n’entend pas désespérer et qui en vient à une sagesse finale, mesurée et mystérieuse. Candide n’en a pas fini de nous inviter au gai savoir et à la réflexion. »

« Du contrat social » par Jean-Jacques Rousseau est un ouvrage de philosophie politique écrit en 1762. Wikipédia affirme que « L’œuvre a constitué un tournant décisif pour la modernité et s’est imposée comme un des textes majeurs de la philosophie politique et sociale, en affirmant le principe de souveraineté du peuple appuyé sur les notions de liberté, d’égalité, et de volonté générale. »

Contactez-nous pour en savoir plus sur ces livres intéressants, et dites-nous ce que vous en pensez. Ici à l’Alliance Française de Chicago, on aime vous offrir les meilleures recommandations de tout ce qui est français !

Weekly Book Recommendations from our Library #week15

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Every week, our Librarian Renée will share with you some book recommendations for both children and adults. Recommendations are found at Culturethèque Digital library. Register here for the Alliance Française member benefit. Join today!

Ages 3+

Le mouton de Tabaski by Véronique Vernette and Arnaud Rodamel (2014)

Fadie, a young girl from Burkina Faso, is excited about preparations for the religious festival of Tabaski. Together with her uncle, she selects a perfectly-plump sheep at the market for the family’s feast. Chaos erupts in town when the sheep escapes. A story of friendship, beautifully illustrated. Culturethèque Digital Library. Storyplayr audiobook.

Ages 7+

L’arbre de l’an bientôt by Mathieu Redelspeger and Xavier Armange (2011)

Two children from a distant future visit the Museum of the Past where they encounter countless wonders—including a mysterious talking tree! Beautifully illustrated. Adults will also enjoy this imaginative story. Culturethèque Digital Library. Storyplayr audiobook.

Intermediate

Maigret tend un piege by Georges Simenon – Hachette (2013)

One of the all-time-classic detective novelists sets this murder-mystery in Montmartre. Readable and accessible, this story will have you on the edge of your seat. Français-facile version, with audio. Culturethèque Digital Library.

Advanced

Reparer les vivants by Maylis de Kerangal (2015)

A teenager is killed in a tragic accident. This story follows the immediate aftermath for those who are left behind. Winner of numerous awards, this poetically-poignant work by Maylis de Kerangal was a huge hit in France. A hard story, beautifully written. Worth a read.

We hope you’ll enjoy la lecture of these books, stay tuned for more recommendations next week!

Weekly Book Recommendations from our Library #week14

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Every week, our Librarian Renée will share with you some book recommendations for both children and adults. Recommendations are found at Culturethèque Digital library. Register here for the Alliance Française member benefit. Join today!

Ages 3+

Papoum magazine by Fleurus Presse

Our very youngest will love to learn all about life’s adventures—each issue offers games, images, and stories with their favorite heroes. Includes a section for parents. Culturethèque Digital Library

Youth: Teenagers

Animale by Victor Dixen

A young orphan grows up in a strict convent, surrounded by mysteries and unanswered questions about her parents and her past. She must leave in order to find the truth. Winner of the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire.

Intermediate

Bonjour tristesse by Françoise Sagan (1954)

This bande dessinée is an adaptation of Sagan’s beloved novel. Written when the author was only 18, “Hello, Sadness” won the Prix des Critiques within weeks of publication. Set on the French Riviera, the story follows jealous, sophisticated 17-year-old Cécile as she plots to derail her widowed father’s impending remarriage. Culturethèque Digital Library

Advanced

L’Education sentimentale by Gustave Flaubert (1869)

Widely considered to be an influential 19th century novel, the story—set during the French Revolution of 1848—follows the romantic adventures of a young man of his time. The book was a hit with George Sand and Emile Zola, but Henry James was not a fan. Find out what all the buzz is about!

We hope you’ll enjoy la lecture of these books, stay tuned for more recommendations next week!

Weekly Book Recommendations from our Library #week13

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Every week, our Librarian Renée will share with you some book recommendations for both children and adults. Recommendations are found at Culturethèque Digital library. Register here for the Alliance Française member benefit. Join today!

Ages 3+

Zen ai marre by Didier Jean, et Zad

Who is that knocking at the door on such a rainy day? Guess together A Word-play vocabulary lessons are part of the fun in this imaginative circus world. Enjoy the colorful characters, beautiful language, and mesmerizing illustrations. Culturethèque Digital Library. Storyplyr audiobook.

Ages 10 – 13

Mon Quotidien – magazine

This daily magazine covers the news in many domains: the economy, health, education, politics, and more! Skim very short, readable articles to quickly be in the know. (15 / month limit) Culturethèque Digital Library.

Intermediate

Le marché noir by Michèle Barrière (2018)

In Nazis-occupied Paris of 1942, Adrien Savoisy struggles to procure food for his family and a few close friends. Things become very complicated when he finds himself the object of blackmail—putting everyone’s lives at risk. How will he react? A gripping tale by a highly-readable author. Culturethèque Digital Library.

Advanced

Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (1897)

This world-famous play is a broad fictionalization of life of Cyrano de Bergerac (1619 – 1655) who was a novelist, playwright, and duelist. The plot follows the cadet who—though remarkably talented—struggles to overcome self-doubt about his obnoxiously large nose. He longs to express his affection for his love-interest, a distant cousin. Written in verse and rhyming couplets. Culturetheque Digital Library.

We hope you’ll enjoy la lecture of these books, stay tuned for more recommendations next week!

Weekly Book Recommendations from our Library #week12

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Every week, our Librarian Renée will share with you some book recommendations for both children and adults. Recommendations are found at Culturethèque Digital library. Register here for the Alliance Française member benefit. Join today!

Ages 3+

Avant Moi by Emmanuelle Houssais

Who is that knocking at the door on such a rainy day? Guess together A wondrous story that starts with the creation of the universe and our planet Earth–from the Big Bang to the eventual appearance of diverse plants and animals–culminating with the birth of a new baby! Culturethèque Digital Library. Storyplyr audiobook.

Ages 7+

Les Habits Neufs de L’Empereur by Hans Christian Andersen

A young child is the only one who is willing to reveal an embarrassing truth to the emperor! This classic tale still resonates today. Culturethèque Digital Library. Storyplyr audiobook.

Intermediate

La Gloire de mon père / Le Château de ma mère by Marcel Pagnol (1957)

My Father’s Glory, followed by My Mother’s Castle, are autobiographical novels—part of a four-volume series by the author. Set in bucolic Provence, the many plot twists will keep you wondering about what will happen next. The 1990 films by Yves Robert are based in part on these works. Culturethèque Digital Library.

Advanced

Les Fleurs du Mal by Baudelaire (1857)

A collection by the founder of Modern French poetry—set in a twisted urban landscape, it is darkly spiritual and not a light read. If you are feeling up to it, delve into the work that set the stage for Rimbaud and Mallarmé.  Culturethèque Digital Library.

We hope you’ll enjoy la lecture of these books, stay tuned for more recommendations next week!

Weekly Book Recommendations from our Library #week11

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Every week, our Librarian Renée will share with you some book recommendations for both children and adults. Recommendations are found at Culturethèque Digital library. Register here for the Alliance Française member benefit. Join today!

Ages 3+

TOC TOC TOC by Isabelle Ayme et Bruna Barros

Who is that knocking at the door on such a rainy day? Guess together as surprise visitors–seen through the key-hole–arrive one-by-one! Culturethèque Digital Library. Storyplyr audiobook.

Ages 9/15

Marion, Tu Rêves? By Fanny Joly et Catel Muller

Enjoy this collection of twelve adventures with your favorite heroes from Je Bouquine–now on beautifully-illustrated bande dessinée. Stories cover the usual teen angst, often with a bit of a twist. Culturethèque Digital Library.

A2 – Classique, en Français Facile

Tristan et Yseut, version by Béroul and Sylvie Schmitt, Clé International

A classic tale of chivalric romance—retold in many variations since the 12th century—the story was a likely precursor to the Arthurian romance of Lancelot and Guinevere. Read this legend-for-the-ages that continues to influence Western art and literature today! Culturethèque Digital Library.

Intermediate

Dans L’Ombre Du Brassier by Herve Le Corre

The Paris Commune of 1871—the Fourth French Revolution—is the setting for this award-winning (French Voices) crime thriller. Follow the action, as the frantic search for mysteriously missing young women takes you through the chaos of Paris at the time. Culturethèque Digital Library.

Advanced

L’histoire Est Une Littérature Contemporaine. Manifeste Pour Les Sciences Sociales by Ivan Jablonka

Professor Ivan Jablonka, a professor at University Paris 13, discusses the importance of effective storytelling in history—while making a strong argument for borrowing across traditions in history, science, and literature. Culturethèque Digital Library.

We hope you’ll enjoy la lecture of these books, stay tuned for more recommendations next week!

Weekly Book Recommendations from our Library #week10

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Every week, our Librarian Renée will share with you some book recommendations for both children and adults. Recommendations are found at Culturethèque Digital library. Register here for the Alliance Française member benefit. Join today!

Ages 3+

Zoe L’Abeille by Sophie Motte (2016)

Follow a young bee as she explores the big-wide-world outside the relative safety of her home hive. Many mini adventures unfold as she takes flight towards her independence. Culturethêque Digital Library. Storyplyr audiobook.

Ages 7+ / Fun For Adult Learners

Marie Voyage en France by Isabelle Pellegrini (2012)

Join Marie as she guides us on a tour of the regions of France, in all their splendor–sampling the various regional cuisines along the way. Culturethèque Digital Library. Storyplyr audiobook.

Youth 9 to 12 – Fun for Adult Learners

Verte by Marie Desplechin (2017)

Our talented protagonist has every opportunity to live a life of a sorcière– just as her mother before her: She must decide how to forge her own way. Is there a middle ground? Read along as the story unfolds. Culturethèque Digital Library. Storyplyr audio.

Intermediate / Advanced

L’Incroyable Histoire De La Médecine by Philippe Bercovici et Jean-Noel Fabiani (2018)

Learn about little-known stories of happenstance and luck that, over the ages, have led to major advance in medical science. Pasteur, for example, only discovered penicillin because his assistant went on vacation! Culturethèque Digital Library.

Advanced

L’Attentat by Yasmina Khadra (2006)

An Israeli surgeon of Arab heritage is shocked to discover that the Palestinian suicide bomber he examines is actually his own wife. What were her motivations? Algerian author, Khadra, was selected by over 5,000 booksellers to win the Prix des libraires for this work. Culturethèque Digital Library.

We hope you’ll enjoy la lecture of these books, stay tuned for more recommendations next week!

Weekly Book Recommendations from our Library #week9

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Every week, our Librarian Renée will share with you some book recommendations for both children and adults. Recommendations are found at Culturethèque Digital library. Register here for the Alliance Française member benefit. Join today!

Ages 3+

Liberté Egalité Fraternité by Agnès Rosenthiehl

Learn to put the principles of Liberté, Egalité, and Fraternité into everyday practice. A very timely story for our youngest readers and listeners. Culturethèque Digital Library. Storyplyr audiobook.

Ages 5+ VIDEO

Prise De La Bastille, by France TV Education (2014)

This informative video will guide you to know more about the history behind le 14 juillet.

Learner B2 / Youth – Adult Interest

Demandez-leur la lune by Isabelle Pandazopoulos (2020)

The story follows the lives of teens from challenging circumstances—without even access to Internet in their neighborhood. One teacher who believes in them helps them to find their way to new opportunities. Culturethèque Digital Library.

Intermediate

L’étranger by Albert Camus (1942) (1883)

This must-read Camus classic is a novel in keeping with turbulent times. If you are ready for the challenge, this philosophical tale of the absurd–a criticism of social norms–may be just what you are looking for now. Not a light read. Culturethèque Digital Library.

Mersault, Contre-Enquete by Kamel Daoud (2014)

A modern-day take on L’étranger by Camus: The story of the accused (Meursault) from his point of view–driving home the point of the injustice that was done to him. Food for thought. Culturethèque Digital Library.

Advanced

Le Collier De La Reine by Alexander Dumas (1848)

A novel of historical fiction, it follows the events surrounding the fabricated incident that further tarnished the already-sullied reputation of Marie Antoinette—a key event that precipitated the French Revolution. Culturethèque Digital Library.

We hope you’ll enjoy la lecture of these books, stay tuned for more recommendations next week!

Weekly Book Recommendations from our Library #week8

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Every week, our Librarian Renée will share with you some book recommendations for both children and adults. Recommendations are found at Culturethèque Digital library. Register here for the Alliance Française member benefit. Join today!

Ages 3+

Vole, Hibou ! by Yousuke Karasawa

Birds have not always known how to fly–here’s the inspiring story of how it happened.  Culturethèque Digital Library. Storyplyr audiobook.

Ages 7+

Marie de Paris by Isabelle Pellegrini and Princesse Camcam

Follow Marie on an adventure-filled visit of Paris–the usual favorite spots along with some new twists. Culturethèque Digital Library. Storyplyr audiobook.

Learner B2 / Youth – Adult

On a volé Mona Lisa by Cécile Talguen

What happened to the Mona Lisa? Read and discover. Written for youth, adults will enjoy the story too. Culturethèque Digital Library.

Intermediate

Contes Divers by Guy de Maupassant (1883)

Read favorites written by this popular and accessible author–Maupassant is the master of the short story! Livre numérique. Culturethèque Digital Library.

Advanced

Du Coté de Chez Swann by Marcel Proust (1913)

Widely considered to be the greatest novel of the twentieth century, this is first of the seven volumes that make up A La Recherche du Temps Perdu. A story of memories, remembrance and recollections. Curious? Now is your chance to read it! Culturethèque Digital Library.

We hope you’ll enjoy la lecture of these books, stay tuned for more recommendations next week!