By DANIELLE GOMES
Though Ella Fitzgerald perhaps most famously sang to the glory of April in Paris, countless other artists have lauded its beauty as well in song, poem and film. But a hop across the pond may be too far for a spring getaway such as this. Fret not, as you can fête instead right here in Somers Point.
Grand Paris is coming to Somers Point. From art exhibits to escargot, Francophiles can rejoices in all things Parisian. Now in its third year, April in Paris will take over various locations throughout town from Thursday to Sunday, April 11 to 14.
The idea for this event came from a casual conversation between Kathleen Arleth, artist and owner of Great Bay Gallery, and her husband Nick Regine, a board member of the South Jersey Jazz Society, while sitting at a bar. The two were musing on some similarities between Paris and Somers Point.
“As a small city, Somers Point had some of the same features as Paris — art, music, jazz, poetry, restaurants and the water, not a river but the bay,” Arleth says. The duo envisioned how they could bring even more of Paris to the bay area.
“We thought of language lessons, French films, Fête en Blanc and then the song ‘April in Paris’ came to us. There were no other big events in Somers Point in April … so here we are — April in Paris,” Arleth says.
Now in its third year, the event continues to grow.
Fare for the soul — food and tunes
Several Somers Point eateries will feature special French-inspired menus over the weekend. Fitzpatrick’s Deli and Steakhouse will offer April in Paris breakfast, lunch and dinner specials all weekend. On Thursday, April 11, Gregory’s Restaurant and Bar will host a prix-fixe dinner that includes French classics such as escargot and coq au vin along with French cabaret music performed by Andrea Carlson. As an award-winning singer, Carlson has performed her unique retro jazz stylings around the globe.
Clancy’s will host a night of Gypsy Jazz with the Richard Sheppard Trio on Friday, April 12. This fast-pace jazzy style originated in Paris in the 1930s and is performed acoustically on French jazz guitars and bass. It’s commonly described as a blend of flamenco, bebop and swing jazz. This event is free. Food and drinks will be available for purchase.
If you like your cuisine with a side of culture, April in Paris has plenty. “Fête en Blanc is such a fun, whimsical event that’s different and cultural for this area,” says Karina Anthony, chairperson of Fête en Blanc, an event with all-white attire. This will be the second year for the Fête en Blanc. Last year’s party was such a success that nearly twice as many people signed up for this year’s fête. “The concept started in Paris in the 1980s. A group was going to have a party in a very busy park in Paris, worried that they might not be able to find each other, everyone dressed in white (to be recognized),” Anthony says.
Somers Point’s Fête en Blanc is always held outside and the location is kept secret until the day of. Guests must bring their own food and white tables, decorations and cutlery. “Everyone wears white, white only, no pops of color,” Anthony says.
Awards are given for best dressed, best tablescape and best in show. “Your food doesn’t have to be all white, but obviously any over-achievers are welcome to,” Anthony says. Guests are encouraged to bring three-course dinners. A selection of area restaurants are offering a catered takeout meal specifically for this event. “People really go all out,” Anthony says. There will also be live entertainment and trivia, plus beer and wine available for purchase.
Art and wine
Arleth has been on the April in Paris’ planning committee since its inception. As such, she makes it a point to have a French-themed art exhibit. This year, she will present Trois Artistes, a showcase of French-inspired art by Arleth and two other artists, Chuck Law and Michelle Collins.
“I was in Paris in May and my work for this event all came from this trip,” says Arleth, a watercolorist with a collection of Parisian cityscapes and landscapes for this show. “I love Paris. I think Paris is the best city I’ve been to in Europe,” Arleth says.
Artiste deux is Michelle Collins, who is also an interior designer, will feature oil and watercolor paintings from her collection Sketches of Paris. Artiste trois is Chuck Law, an award-winning plein aire and studio painter. Law was born in France to military parents and returned to the States when he was a child.
“Chuck has a fascinating story. He recently returned to Poilu, the village he lived in as a child, with his father that was in his ’80s. He had an incredible experience and his art for this show was inspired by that trip,” Arleth says. This event will also feature a wine tasting presented by South Jersey Wine Friends.
April in Paris full event info:
A French Cabaret: There will be two seatings at 6 and 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 11. Gregory’s Restaurant will present A French Cabaret with Andrea Carlson. Enjoy a three-course prix-fixe dinner with dishes such as escargot, coq au vin, crepe du jour and more. Carlson and her accompanist will perform music “en francais.”
Dinner is $40 per person. Tax, gratuities and beverages are not included. Reservations are required.
Located at 900 Shore Road. For more information call 609-927-6665.
Bonjour, Mes Amis: French language lessons from 1 to 2 p.m. on Fridays, April 12, 19 and 26. Learn conversational French at Gregory’s Restaurant. Lessons will cover common phrases and questions, social behavior, culture, accents, shopping, food, numbers and more. If you’d like to have lunch, arrive at 12:15. A French-inspired menu will be available at the April 12 session. The classes are free with lunch available for purchase.
Located at 900 Shore Road in Somers Point. For more information or to register by phone call 609-653-4991.
Trois Artistes: Great Bay Gallery will present Trois Artistes with a meet and greet with the artists and a wine tasting from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, April 12. It features the work of artists Kathleen Arleth, Michelle Collins and Chuck Law. The event is free and open to the public. All of the artwork is for sale. The collection will remain on display in the gallery through April 20.
Located at 829 Bay Ave. in Somers Point. For more information call 609-653-4991 or go to GreatBayArtGallery.com.
Fête en Blanc: From 5 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, April 13. The location is secret and will be revealed the day of the event. This event is inspired by the official, flash dinner concept, Diner en Blanc. Advance reservations are required. $40 per couple, all tables must be set for two. Go to AprilInParisSP.weebly.com
Gypsy Jazz, with The Richard Sheppard Trio: From 7:30 to 9 p.m. Friday, April 12 at Clancy’s by the Bay, The Richard Sheppard Trio will perform a selection of Ameranouche’ gypsy jazz. The acoustic styling of this type of music is a mix of flamenco, bebop and jazz swing. The event is free. Food and drinks will be available for purchase. Donations are appreciated.
Located at 101 E. Maryland Ave. in Somers Point. For more information call 609-927-6969.
Allons-y! A wine tour of France: From 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 13, head to Passion Vines in Somers Point. Passion Vines is offering a selection of French wine tastings and classes. As one of the world’s largest producers of wine, there are several vintages to discover. France traces their wine making back to the Roman times and Passion Vines’ wine expert will help you explore these ancient traditions guiding you through an exploration of France’s ancient wine-making traditions. Guests will enjoy six different wines. Seating is limited and reservations are required.
Located at 265 New Road in Somers Point. For more information call 609-601-VINE (8463).
French Toast Competition: From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, April 14, at Clancy’s by the Bay, local restaurants will compete for the Best French Toast in Somers Point. Awards will be given for Judges Choice and People’s Choice. The event is free, donations are appreciated.
Located at 101 E. Maryland Ave. in Somers Point. For more, call 609-927-6969.
French Film and Sunday Lunch: At 2 p.m. Sunday, April 14, “Intouchables” will be shown in French with English subtitles at Gregory’s. Food and drink will be available for purchase with French-inspired menu options. If ordering lunch, please arrive by 1:30 p.m.
Located at 900 Shore Road in Somers Point. For more information call 609-927-6665.
The Somers Point Library will also join in on the fun with French-themed book displays and a showing of Disney’s “Ratatouille” at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 13.
For more information go to AtlanticLibrary.org/somers_point_branch.