Voilah! France Singapore Festival is back.
From 22 October to 22 November, the annual festival will be celebrating all things French with experiences that range from cultural (think art, cinema, fashion, history and music) to gastronomical (wine and cheese, anyone?).
Considering that our travel options are still pretty limited right now, the festival couldn’t have come at a better time. (It helps that a certain Netflix show has recently left us all with a longing to visit France, too.) This year’s edition of Voilah! is also going to be a little different: it’s the first to include virtual programs, including online workshops, masterclasses and performances. In other words, you’ll get to enjoy the festivities from the comfort of your home.
Still, you probably wouldn’t want to — not when there are close to 50 events on the line-up to choose from. Not sure where to start? Below, we round up all the best things to see, eat and do at Voilah! France Singapore Festival 2020.
1. Take a history lesson
This year’s festival marks the 100th anniversary of Georges Clemenceau’s first visits to Singapore. (Yes, he’s the man that Clemenceau Avenue is named after.) If you’re not familiar with the French wartime leader, that’s only more reason for you to check out the “Clemenceau in Singapore” exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore. It’ll highlight the statesman’s legacy, the aforementioned visits, and his personal collection of Asian art objects. Clemenceau also had creative pursuits; his play, “The Veil of Happiness”, has been performed in Paris, the US and China, as well as adapted into a musical and two silent films. You can catch a new reading of the script set in Singapore, live from Voilah!’s official Facebook page.
2. Try your hand at preparing a French full-course dinner…
Justin Quek, owner of Chinoiserie Singapore, knows a thing or two about Franco-Asian cuisine. Let the award-winning chef guide you through preparing a 3-course lunch (S$80 per ticket) or a 5-course dinner (S$150), wine included, at his restaurant for “Dans la Cuisine du Chef”. You’ll get to rub shoulders with one of Asia’s top chefs (in his own kitchen, no less) and enjoy the meals you prepared at a cozy, private dining room later on.
3. Or enjoy one, with a stunning backdrop to boot
On 4 November, Vue will be offering a 7-course dinner menu that showcases the flavours of France. We’re talking caviar, oyster, foie gras, finely aged cheeses and all the authentic French specialities and ingredients that have inspired Chef Sam Chin, who helms the stylish rooftop spritz bar at OUE Bayfront. The event is priced at S$188, but it’s definitely a bang for your buck; you’ll get to enjoy your fine dining dishes along with the equally impressive Marina Bay skyline.
4. Go on a garden food tour
Voilah! Festival highlights Singapore’s ties with France as well. One such tie is horticultural: as the former trade centre along the spice route, Singapore had a hand in shaping what would become France’s unique cuisine. The “Gardens, Plants and Spices” exhibition at the Singapore Botanic Gardens will show you exactly how, with examples of flora that have been curated by renowned French plant expert, Pascal Garbe.
But if you’re hungry for a little more than knowledge, check out the “Garden Food Tour” at Open Farm Community. Priced from S$120, the tour will highlight different herbs and edible flowers. You’ll also learn to harvest and cook them in a class led by Chef Oliver Truesdale-Jutras, in order to whip up a traditional, 4-course French dinner. A glass of natural wine is included, of course.
Register for the Garden Food Tour here.
5. Get a taste of France’s finest wines
What’s a French festival without wine? On 18 November, Praelum Wine Bistro will let you have a taste of the best exports from the country’s famous wine regions. Included in the bar’s “French Wine Tour” (S$118) are renowned wines like Roger Coulon “Heri-Hodie”, NV Champagne and Valentin Zusslin. If you’d like to discover what goes well with them, though, head to The Vintner on Duxton on 11 November. The bar will be hosting a masterclass (S$108) on how to pair French wines with iconic Singaporean desserts, like pandan cake, salted egg yoke, cheesecake and lava chiffon cake.
Register for both by emailing email@example.com.
6. Treat yourself to some pretty pastries
Crepes, croissants, macarons — there’s no end to all the pretty, tasty pastries that France has introduced to the world. House of Anli, the Belgian interior and dining joint in Tanglin Mall, will be offering five of them to go with your afternoon coffee as part of its “Cafe Gourmand”concept (S$55) on 4 November. You won’t even have to feel guilty; House of Anli is gluten-free and keto-friendly.
Another sweet pastry to try (and this time, indulge in) is Le Paris-Brest-Singapour, a local spin on the traditional French cake specially created by Odette’s Michelin-starred chef Julien Royer. It boasts irresistible flavours like gula melaka, coconut and rich kaya cream. Speaking of, Tiong Bahru Bakery will be launching its own Kaya-Croissant, a pastry that crosses continents and deliciously marries two beloved breakfast dishes.
Register for Cafe Gourmand here. Odette’s “Le Paris-Brest-Singapour” will be available to order from 16 to 21 November here, while Tiong Bahru Bakery’s “Kaya-Croissant” will be available from 22 October to 22 November at all Tiong Bahru Bakery outlets.
7. Take a walk through Monet’s water lilies
For the first time, Voilah! will be bringing a virtual reality (VR) exhibition to Singapore. “A Virtual Voyage through Masterpieces”, hosted at Gardens By the Bay, lets you lose yourself in the world of French art. We mean that in a literal sense: the masterpieces of Monet, Manet and Gauguin will all come to life through a series of VR art installations, which will transport you to their rich, painted sceneries. The experience won’t be quite as rewarding as taking a stroll through the Gardens of Versailles, or the Jardin des Tuileries, but it’s definitely worth a try.
Get your tickets here.
8. Bask in the glory of French classical music
Another way that Voilah! is blending art and technology is through a series of concerts streamed online. The most notable of them is the festival closer, Orchestre National d’Île-de-France led by renowned Singaporean conductor Kahchun Wong. The performance, which will include symphonic compositions by Claude Debussy and César Franck, will be streamed on Voilah!’s official Facebook page. There’s even more French classical music to be enjoyed at “Divertissement”, featuring the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and conductor Darrell Ang, as well as “Les Gouts Reunis”, an homage to French baroque music by Red Dot Baroque.
Get your tickets for “Divertissement” and “Les Gouts Reunis” here.
Discover the full festival line-up at at voilah.sg.
Header photo credit: Unsplash