Finding France: The best ways to enjoy a French-inspired day in Geelong

Finding France: The best ways to enjoy a French-inspired day in Geelong

Campbell Point House

Put on your beret and practise your ‘bonjour’.

It’s not tricky to live so Frenchy, so chic in our regional home of Geelong. In celebration of the French national holiday, known as ”Bastille Day’, we taking you from croissants and crepes, to Camembert and chateaus, there are plenty of ways to get your French fix in Geelong.

Start the day the right way

Coffee and croissant in the morning, délicieuse!

If you’re looking to teleport yourself to the streets of Paris, there’s no better place to start than at That Place Patisserie in Belmont. What once started as a friendly neighbourhood café has quickly become Geelong’s top destination for classically produced French pastries and French-inspired sweet treats.

Croissants are the star of the show at That Place, being prepared fresh in-house by Ashlea Allen, a French-trained pastry chef (at L’ecole Gregoire-Ferrandi followed by work at two of the city’s finest bakeries, La Patisserie des Reves and Le Grenier a Pain). Allen says she crafted the menu using her training as a foundation but applied rustic Australian café ideas to give the range a homey twist.

“I love the complexity of French pastry, but sometimes, keeping it a little more simple helps to emphasise the flavours of the significant ingredients in the recipe,” she says regarding the ethos behind the foods at That Place.

That Place also offers a variety of other baked goods, including Vanilla Bean Mille-Feuille, Pain Au Chocolat as well as other gateaux des voyage (travel cakes).

Visit That Place Patisserie and Cafe at 110B Mt Pleasant Rd, check out their Instagram here.

Head out on a Parisian walk

With a croissant and takeaway coffee in hand, do as the French do and put on your walking shoes as the Parisians love to walk their beautiful city.

While we can’t walk along The Seine or trek from the Arc de Triomphe to the Fondation Louis Vuitton, you can indulge in the beauty by taking a walk through the Geelong Botanic Gardens, taking in all the colours and scents of the amazing plant collection.

If you prefer to get amongst the bustling atmosphere, the Eastern Beach to Rippleside walk is perfect with its scenic views. Popular throughout the day and all-year round, the early mornings offer something more beautiful, especially on sunnier days.

Check out more travel related content via our website.

Stock up on French baguettes

Think of France and you can’t help but think of the delicious crusty baguette. Split in two and stuffed with creamy camembert or meaty pâté, spread with dollops of butter and homemade jam and cut into crusty hunks and lightly toasted to accompany French onion soup, the long thin Latin loaf has been a quintessential part of French daily life since the 18th century.

So what better way to embrace the French then by stocking up on the authentic bread from a French Bakery and heading out on a picnic of your own?

Luckily we’ve got Le Fournil French Bakery nestled in the heart of Pakington Street. This traditional French bakery offers real French breads, pastries and patisseries made by French bakers and pastry chefs on site.

With a goal is to provide fresh foods daily, from crusty authentic French baguettes to delightful patisseries, you can bet your picnic will be the most French spread you could ever hope for.

Find them at 90 Pakington Street Geelong West.

Dine at these intimate French restaurants

If you’re looking for an evening on classic French fare, Geelong’s got a couple of special places that will satisfy any French wanderlust you might be feeling.

First, there’s the cosy Bistrot St Jean for an intimate lamp-lit evening of French inspired meals and Bistrot style dishes in a rustic and honest European Bistrot. When you walk through the front doors, you will feel as though you have been transported straight to the rustic streets of France. With French gypsy jazz and an eclectic collection of decor, you’ll find typical French dishes such as slow-cooked lam with a red wine sauce, or a beef bourguignon. And of course, dessert has to be a traditional crème brûlée.

La Cachette is another option. Translating to ‘the hideaway’ in French, Geelong’s newest fine-dining destination is a modern, intimate and quiet 25-seat bistro, tucked away in Steampacket Place on the lush Geelong Waterfront. Taking influence from the French bistronomy movement, La Cachette is different to most French places. There’s no steak frites, or French-onion soup, white tablecloths or waistcoated staff. Instead, Geelong born-and-bred Matt Podbury wants to show Geelong what contemporary French dining looks like, injecting fun and accessibility, as well as warmth and intimacy, into the local culinary scene. The $85 fixed price menu will include two snacks and local sourdough bread, followed by a small choice of entrees, mains and desserts, with the option to add an extra entrée.

A little further out of Geelong, sits Bouchon at Bellarine. Set amongst the rolling hills of the premier wine country, Bouchon at Bellarine brings a French twist to the Bellarine Peninsula. The family-owned Bellarine Estate Winery delivers famous tastes such as James’s Paddock Chardonnay, Phil’s Fetish Pinot Noir or Portarlington Ridge Shiraz. Bouchon also serves several delectable bites to enjoy with your glass, including roasted button mushrooms filled with triple Brie, Chargrilled Qual and charcuterie boards, all sourced locally and made with love.

Bistrot Plume is another little restaurant specialising in high-quality French cuisine, located in Belmont. Perfect for those who enjoy the finer things in life, this elegant eatery is a place to go where you can experience both French-inspired dishes and carefully selected wines. You’ll find timeless classics such as Twice baked cheese soufflé, steak tartare, chicken liver pate, and creme brulee, as well as Sher Wagyu hanger with cafe de Paris butter and crispy quail. The owner’s love of France and extensive travelling of its various food and wine regions is reflected in every part of this little gem and it’s definitely worth checking out.

Treat yourself to a night at this French-inspired boutique hotel

Campbell Point House on the Bellarine Peninsula is what could be described as a French jewel in our backyard.

This enormous French chateau sitting regally on the shores of Lake Connewarre surrounded by 14ha of perfectly manicured French-inspired gardens is definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a luxurious getaway, even if just for the night.

A former private home now turned luxury boutique hotel, there are just eight suites that can accommodate a maximum of 30 guests, with choices of rooms including suites in the master house, the newly-opened stables, a two-bedroom cottage or a three-bedroom lake-view house. Taking inspiration from the chateaus of the Loire Valley, its owner and architect, Aaron Parkhill is rumoured to have dropped just shy of $20 million creating this French vision. Traditional oak floors line the hallways, there is a grand winding staircase made of marble, its walls are decorated with portraits of French royalty and oval windows frame the lake.

Our eyes are on The Master Suite, which is large and beautifully appointed, complete with limestone en-suite, 2 walk in robes, lounge area and king bed.

Campbell Point House is every bit your French countryside dream.

Shop French wine and cheese

France takes its wines every bit as seriously as it does its cheeses, so it would be irresponsible of us not to suggest indulging in some of the country’s best. If you can’t resist fantastic French style fromagerie and world-beating reds of Bordeaux we recommend hitting up The Cheese Society and Union Street Wine on Minerva Road.

With cheese and wine under one roof, you’ve got two experts to help you find your Morbier, brie and Roquefort, and pair it with a Syrah and Chenin Blanc.

Find them at 15 Minerva Road, Herne Hill.

Check out the Alliance Francaise de Geelong

If you’re truly looking to immerse yourself in the culture, the Alliance Française de Geelong is a not-for-profit Australian organisation that teaches and promotes French language and culture throughout Geelong. A variety of French language classes suitable for all levels are conducted weekly and are taught by French language experts. Classes are aligned with school terms and typically on Monday afternoons and evenings and Wednesday evenings. Conversation classes are also conducted weekly and offer participants the opportunity to extend their vocabulary and practise pronunciation.

Each year the Alliance Française de Geelong organises a number of social events and activities to promote French culture. These events are open to all to attend and include monthly French-language films and typical French celebrations such as Bastille Day and Beaujolais Nouveau.

Check out the website for details regarding classes, films and upcoming events.

Don’t forget the crepes

From macarons and éclairs to brûlées and soufflés, if there’s one thing we really love about the French it’s the slew of wonderful desserts and pastries they’ve gifted the world to indulge in. But their best creation? La crêpe délicieuse, of course!

Regularly sold all over France in numerous streets stands and cafés, crêpes are light, thin and delicate versions of a pancake that can be filled with anything you like, such as fresh fruit, chocolate sauce, bananas and whipped cream. If you’re not into sweets, they’ve also got the savoury version known as a galette which is often filled with ham, cheese and eggs.

If this dessert sounds like something you would drool over, you have to finish off your French-inspired getaway at Coastal Crepes & Wine. Located in Anglesea, a 40-minute drive from Geelong (it’s worth it, don’t worry!), Coastal Crepes & Wine’s menu is an ode to the traditional French crepes, offering a delicious variety of sweet and savoury crepes, all made to order, served fresh and delicious.

For the sweet tooths, choose from the La Suzette, with orange coulis, butter, Grand Marnier, orange zest, vanilla ice cream and a twist of orange; the La Caramel Beurre Sale, with salted caramel butter and vanilla ice cream; or perhaps the La Nutella Banane, complete with Nutella, banana, almonds, vanilla ice cream and shredded coconut. If you prefer to keep things simple, we suggest the La Fruit Rouge, made with strawberry coulis, blueberries and vanilla ice cream; or the La Beaurre Sucre with sugar, lemon juice and lemon sorbet – a classic. These babies are all served with Chantilly cream and icing sugar, truly embracing the French touch.

Go on, offrez-vous!