French Club’s weekly conversations brings France to Steamboat Springs
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Colorado and France are two beautiful places on opposite sides of the globe. Of all the things that come to mind when trying to find commonalities, the mountains are maybe the best bet. But then again, the Rocky Mountains and the French Alps are also as different as mountains can get.
Then how do Francophiles get their fix when they’re missing the French countryside, cold chilly mountain peaks or even just the language?
In most of the U.S., people have access to the Alliance Francaise or other French programs, but none of those have yet to find their way to Routt County. So, Francophiles in Steamboat Springs decided to create their own in 1996, and the French Club was born.
Alison Tate and Gail Holthausen were the founding members, and they named the club Rendezvous.
“The inspiration, of course, to practice French conversation in order not to lose the ability and vocabulary,” Holthausen said.
While the first meeting didn’t go as plan, word started spreading through the grapevine, and more and more local Francophiles found their way in the door. Some, like members Cindy Kinnear and Pat Ayer, came because they were former French teachers. Other came because it brought France back to them.
“France is a very important part of my life,” said Jamie Lynne Burgess, a French Club member since 2014.
Burgess studied in Paris during college and went back to work as a teaching assistant for two years in Dijon and Blois, France. She still visits the country regularly.
“Every time I come back from France to Colorado, I am reminded of the differences between the cultures, and it feels harder to assimilate, again,” Burgess said. “French Club really helps to remind you of that part of your identity and feel connected to France even while away.”
The French Club meets weekly at MountainBrew to chat with each other in French, of course, about their favorite things from France such as culture or foods and their everyday lives. Last week’s meeting, according to member Dorothy Schrader, focused on the Académie française, which was founded by Cardinal Richelieu in 1634.
According to Burgess, the group isn’t only beneficial to those who love and miss France. The club has also been helpful for the French ski patrollers working at Steamboat Resort on exchange and their families when they visit.
“This year, I helped a family find information they needed at the post office and other little things to navigate American life,” Burgess said. “That’s a unique aspect of this club.”
What: French Club weekly
When: 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
427 Oak St.
The French Club meets weekly from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays at MountainBrew, 427 Oak St. The group also hosts monthly happy hours from 5 to 7 p.m. at Off The Beaten Path, 68 Ninth St.
And, if you’re interested in learning French, Burgess does teach classes for beginners at Holy Name Catholic Church, 524 Oak St. To sign up, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I’ve always been grateful that, for such a small town, we have a strong contingent of people who are interested in culture,” Burgess said.
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