This year's Fete Francaise features a headliner so surprising that even festival chair Crickett Lapeyre was caught off guard.
"This guy is so famous (in France) ... our teachers were screaming, because all our teachers at the school are French," Lapeyre says. "They couldn't believe it."
The headliner, a French singer named Tété, has been called "the Bob Dylan of France." His performance closes out the annual fundraiser this month for the Ecole Bilingue de la Nouvelle Orleans school, one of only a few French-language immersion programs in Louisiana.
The free daylong celebration of French culture takes place from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, March 20, at 821 Gen. Pershing St. and features music, food and games. Crowds clamor each year for moules frites (mussels and fries) served up by the Deux Papas team, and restaurants including La Cote Brasserie, Cochon and Cafe Degas will sell food at the festival. This year marks the introduction of a new signature cocktail, a mixture of Lillet and Champagne called Joie de Vivre.
For the little ones, the fete offers vintage-style carnival games and the Grimaldi Guignols, a French puppeteer troupe, which created a special show for its Louisiana audience, Lapeyre says.
The school sees the fete as an opportunity to share the continental lifestyle (including, of course, wine, crepes and cheese) with the community.
"We want people to feel like they're ... coming to France and getting a taste of it," Lapeyre says. "We really want to be an influential thing in the city."