Indulgent and delicate French flavors abound in our Great Lakes Bay Region. Decadent art and glorious galleries are pleasantly tucked into our neighborhoods, too, and with a little creativity - inventivité, if you will - French experiences can be yours, no passport required.
Indulge At A French Bakery
Walking into a French bakery is a sensory explosion of sights and smells, culminated in each delicious bite. And you need travel only as far as Saginaw's Patisserie (bakery in French) to experience it.
- Baked fresh daily, Patisserie's croissants deliver both a delicate crunch on the outside and light, flaky layers inside. If you're looking to enjoy chocolate-filled croissants commonly found throughout France, order the Chocolate Danish - oh-so-similar (and oh-so-good).
- Sample Patisserie's ham and cheddar quiche, common in France, or the broccoli ricotta option.
- Don't leave without trying the Éclairs, filled with unforgettable vanilla pastry crème and dipped in luxurious chocolate.
Inventivité (a little creativity): It's customary in France to greet business owners with "Bonjour" upon walking into their shop, and to say goodbye upon leaving with "Au revoir".
Cozy Up In A Parisian Café
Owners Matt and Renee Crimmens were smitten with the crepes they'd tasted while traveling in Paris: Savory and sweet, served hand-held-style in the streets of Paris as commonly as hot dogs are served in downtown Chicago. The couple brought the authentic Parisian fare to Frankenmuth's River Place Shops with La Crepe du Jour (crepe of the day), and offer over 30 made-to-order crepes.
- For a savory option, try the Murano featuring grilled chicken, red onion, mozzarella cheese, fresh spinach, roasted tomatoes and pesto. (Owner Renee favors this crepe. She did name it, after all, and the inspiration came from the couple's honeymoon!)
- Dine on a sweet crepe with the Banana Fosters, made with butter, brown sugar, bananas and pecans, or try the Strawberries and Chocolate, Grand Marnier and Sugar or even the Almond Joy. Bon appétit!
Inventivité: While in Frankenmuth, stroll down to St. Julian Winery (located at 127 S. Main St., Frankenmuth, 989-652-3281) and sample French varietals grown in Michigan. Six samples may be enjoyed for $5 per person, and participants receive a take-home souvenir glass. For an added bonus, ask to sample a Braganini Reserve for a more authentic, French-inspired taste.
Get A Taste Of The French Life
Do as the French truly do: Hit the market for wine, cheese and bread, and head to a park to enjoy. Eastman Party Store in Midland has authentic French choices.
- Fresh breads and baguettes from Michigan-based bakeries are available every Tuesday and Thursday.
- Purchase French brie or possibly Chaumes, a semi-soft cheese made in France (similar to brie but more pungent), or even Delice de Bourgogne, a triple-cream from the Bourgogne region in France.
- Try a full-bodied red wine from France, Chateauneus-Du-Pape, or a white Sancerre from France as well.
Inventivité: Midland's Dow Gardens could provide a 110-acre-backdrop of beauty for an indulgent French picnic. And, while not advertised (but on the Dow Gardens map), the Secret Garden is a secluded area with large ferns, a stone fireplace and a waterfall. Roll up your pant legs, lay down a blanket, and enjoy? Oui! (Yes!)
An En Plein Experience
Just as you would while traveling abroad, delve into the arts (right in our region).
- Visit the Saginaw Art Museum through June 6, 2015, and catch the exploratory "Strolling Through Paris Circa 1890" exhibit. The 25 photographs on display are arranged in order as if one were walking through the streets of France's capital city, Paris.
- Attend a French-inspired festival, Great Lakes Bay En Plein Air Festival, June 15 - 21, 2015, at the Saginaw Art Museum. "En plein" is a French expression which means "in the open air", and is used to describe the act of creating art outdoors. The festival will feature Sip ‘n' Swirls, workshops, an art fair, and will culminate in a juried exhibition at the Saginaw Art Museum through October 17, 2015.
- Create a personal art piece with Bay City's Bay Sail - Appledore Tall Ships and educators from the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum during the Plein Air Art Discovery Cruises. Board the Schooner Appledore IV from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on July 20, 2015, for $35.