Tuesday, December 30, 2014

L'indomptable et redoutable ville de Lyon

City Hall of Lyon

The third biggest French city was founded 2,000 years ago and was then called Lugdunum, also capital of the Gauls. With such a rich history, Lyon offers many attractions, has an extraordinary architecture and a vivid life all year-long. The cinema is quite important here with the Lumière brothers who pioneered cinema in the town at the end of the 19th century. The historic aspect of the city is big and if you are craving for historical sights, Lyon is a great choice! Time travel while visiting the Ancient Theatre of Fourvière, admire the exceptional Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière from the Cathedral Saint-Jean or walk up hill to the basilica to take a great panorama of the entire city. The City Hall of Lyon should not be blushing face to the City Hall of Paris. Both of them are stunning. And if the urban life is overwhelming, don’t worry, Lyon is also home of the largest urban park in France, the Parc de la Tête d’Or. Lyon has seriously everything to offer to all of us! One more reason maybe: Paul Bocuse is based there. Lyon has unique and delicious cuisine. Margaret, who lived in the city for a few months, especially loved quenelle, a type of dumpling with cream sauce. Forget Paris, Lyon is the place to be.

Lyon is a city full of surprises. Here's a list of interesting facts about the city:

-  Lyon is the birthplace of cinema.
-  Lyon is the silk capital of the world.
-  Lyon if the gastronomic capital of France.
-  Lyon was created 2,000 years ago.
-  Lyon is the second largest Renaissance city after Venise.
- Dubai planned on created an area called Lyon Dubai City where they would have reproduced some districts of Lyon.

View of Lyon from the Fourvière

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

We wish all of you a wonderful holiday season full of love, peace, family and friends. Our memories of the excellent past summer are fueling our eagerness to get ready for 2015. We'll be back on the island in early January to prepare for the best summer ever. We hope to see many of you in the new year and send our best wishes for whatever adventures you are planning for 2015 and beyond.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Des volcans et des pneus, découvrez Clermont-Ferrand!

Oh don’t go there, there’s absolutely nothing to see there! Well, more than once in my experience I realized that those common and supposedly boring places always had really cool sights and rich sites to offer. This is one of the reasons why you should not hesitate to visit Clermont-Ferrand and its surroundings if you like peaceful and tranquil hilly landscapes. Let’s be honest though, the Auvergne region, which Clermont-Ferrand is the capital, is mainly agricultural and there’s a lack of urban attractions beside the city itself. And this is precisely why visitors come all the way there. Michelin, one of the two largest tire manufacturers in the world is based in town and its museum will guide you through the interesting history of tires, roads and maps. The Basilique Notre-Dame-du-Port is gorgeous and definitely worth the trip! Have you heard about Vercingétorix? Every French kids know him. He united the Gauls and was eventually defeated by Julius Caesar in Alésia (North of Dijon). Eventually, plan a hike trip in the Parc des Volcans, in the heart of Auvergne, where several volcanoes have been asleep for more than 6,000 years! Through its valleys, on the high plateaux and ridges, alongside the rivers and lakes, in the forests and through the fields, the park provides all outdoor enthusiasts with some fantastic trips along the trails.

Volcanoes near Clermont-Ferrand

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Dijon, ses ducs et sa moutarde

Made from seeds of mustard plant, Dijon is a condiment that will brighten up the worst hot dog you could get at the corner of the street. The Dijon mustard that we find in any grocery store is a descendant from the original mustard that Jean Naigeon (from Dijon) created in the mid-19th century. Today, however, most of the Dijon mustards you will eat are produced all around the world, especially in Canada. Back to Dijon, the French city this time. There are numerous reasons why you should stop there! First of all, to try some mustards! Dijon is also located in Bourgogne (famous all over the planet for its vineyards!) and the region is known for its gastronomy. Eat some escargots, try the jambon persillé or the truffles. Eventually, you should admire the typical and old store Mulot & Petitjean where you can find a great selection of pains d’épice (spice bread). Take a photo with the White Bear sculpture in the pretty Jardins d’Arcy, and don’t forget to touch the owl on the Church of Notre-Dame of Dijon with your left hand while making a wish! The Palais des ducs de Bourgogne (which is now the City Hall and the Palais des Beaux-Arts) used to be the palace of the Dukes and Estates of Burgundy and is a heritage of the political life of Dijon and the region for almost a millennium! 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Strasbourg, capitale européenne et de Noël

Winter is coming, Christmas is in three weeks, and everybody starts to rush to the stores to get presents. And Strasbourg, on the border with Germany, gets overly crowded at this time of the year! Not for the European Parliament and other international tours, but mostly for its famous Christmas market, one of the biggest in Europe, also called Christkindelsmärik in Alsatian. It was created in 1570 and more than 2 million visitors come every December in Strasbourg to find the perfect gift and enjoy this typical and tradiotional atmosphere. 
For more than 220 years, the cathedral of Strasbourg was the tallest building in the world! It is now the 6th tallest church around the world and the view from the top remains memorable! If you succeed not spending the entire day at the Christmas market, you have to visit the Grand île (historic district classified UNESCO World Heritage Site) and wander in Petite France, probably one of the most charming urban areas in the country. 
Between the bretzel, the choucroute, the flammekueche, the fleischschneke, the männele, the Munster cheese and the Alsatian white wine, you should not be too hungry during your trip!
View from the Petite France and its typical timbering houses, Strasbourg

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Revolution in the French gastronomic capital

Have you heard about the sac gourmet, aka the French-style doggy bag? Probably not since doggy bag almost non-existent there! Yet, doggy bags are trying hard to make their way into French restaurants. This would be a total revolution for the culinary etiquette of France. Let us tell you why this is going to be a rough task. 
First of all, when you get lunch or dinner in a French restaurant, you would be surprised about the proportion of food served. While it may be over-sized in the US, it appears to be most of the time the right amount in France. 
Food is also sacred in France and this is one of the other main reasons of the lack of doggy bags there. Many chefs and restaurants would never allow or even consider putting left overs in a bag or a box! And if it is part of the French culture to raise their kids to finish their plates, France is still a strong wasteful country. In 2011, French people threw away 21% of the food they bought (about 200 lbs. per person/year!). The EU declared 2014 the “year against food waste”. 
By the end of 2014, only 31% of the restaurants in France already offer a doggy bag service to their customers or would be willing to. In Lyon, the gastronomic capital, a couple companies offer doggy bags to restaurants, try to change people’s mind, and warn about food waste. 
It is not sure that doggy bags will make their way in France and if they do, this will be a big change in French gastronomic culture. We will keep you posted!

Photo from thetimes.co.uk

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Nancy, son Art Nouveau et ses Bergamotes

When you hear Nancy, you think of the East of France, you think of the magnificent Place Stanislas (or Place Stan’ as the locals call it), you might know the Ecole de Nancy, and that’s it. Since we were already in Metz last week, why shouldn’t we stop in Nancy? The city has many treasures you’re going to like, believe me. How many of you have had in their house that famous poster with a black cat (La tournée du Chat Noir avec Rodolphe Salis) hung on the wall? That poster is a pure example of the Art Nouveau movement, and the Ecole de Nancy was indeed, the spearhead of the movement in France. If you are a fan of Art Nouveau, you should definitely check out the Villa Majorelle and the museum of the School. Back to Place Stan’, built in 1750’s and classified UNESCO World Heritage Site 31 years ago, is an astonished pedestrian square in Nancy. At first you might think of Versailles while admiring the gold, the details and the beauty of each building and gate. But you are still in the East of France. Time is running out! Run to the closest confectioner and buy a pack of Bargamotes de Nancy, a specialty of the city. This golden and transparent sweet is a mix of cooked sugar and natural essential oils from the bergamot. Jump in the train, next stop: the German border!

View of the Place Stanislas, Nancy

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Metz, la Ville verte de l'est aux multiples facettes

La Porte des Allemands, Metz

Sorry, this time you don’t pronounce the ‘t’ in Metz. But no worries, many French people don’t even know it either. With its proximity to Germany and Luxembourg, Metz offers an interesting mix between a strong Germanic culture and Romance influence. There are many things you should see if you are in town. Take the TGV (French speed train) from Paris and make it all the way east in just 1h30min! As soon as you will step in the train station also called the Imperial Station Palace, you will be impressed by its facade. Take the time to visit the Saint-Stephen Cathedral with the largest expanse of stained-glass windows in the world, or the Basilica of Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains, one of the oldest churches in the world. One of the last bridge castles in France is located in Metz. It is called the German’s Gate (la Porte des Allemands). If you are not in the mood for visiting old buildings, chill in the numerous public gardens thanks to which Metz gained its nickname of the Green City. Don’t hesitate to visit the Centre Pompidou-Metz, a branch of the Parisian Pompidou arts center. Jump in the train, we won't go far away next week!

View on Metz historic center from the Centre Pompidou-Metz

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Arras, son beffroi, sa Grand-Place et ses Boves

Unlike many French words, the last ‘s’ in Arras should be pronounced. In between Lille and Paris, Arras is the historic capital of the Artois region and has a history older than 2,000 years! Back in the day, in the Iron Age, the Gauls established Nemetocenna, the ancestor of nowadays Arras. Like Lille, the city was once part of the Spanish Netherlands in the 17th century. Thousands of visitors come each year to Arras to explore the rich architecture and the historic buildings the city has to offer.

Here’s a list of why you should visit Arras if you’re nearby:
  1. The Town Hall and its Belfry (a UNESCO World Heritage Site)
  2. The Boves (a maze located 10 meters underneath the streets, formerly chalk quarries from the 10th century, the galleries were used by the allied troops during WW1)
  3. The Grand-Place and the Place des Héros
  4. The Saint-Vaast Abbey
  5. The Nemetacum site (the ancient town of Arras founded 2,000 years ago)
  6. The Canadian National Vimy Memorial (6 mi North of Arras)
Town Hall and Belfry, Arras

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Lille, la rayonnante capitale des Flandres

The capital of the Flanders has a rich history. Lille was not always French and the Vauban Citadel is a big heritage of the wars during the reign of Louis XIV. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, Lille faces social issues due to the decline of the coal, mining and textile industries. In the last decades, the city started a large cultural program and it is nowadays an important cultural hub in France, offering many cultural festivals and exhibitions. With its proximity to international cities such as London, Brussels and Paris, the 4th biggest metropolitan area of France is easy to access and commute. Charles de Gaulle was born in the Vieux-Lille, the old district of Lille, where you have to spend a few hours on your next visit there and wander in the narrow cobble-stoned streets! Eventually, you should try some of the local and Flemish typical dishes like the Carbonnade flammande and have a piece of Maroilles, a very distinct cheese from the North. If by any chance you are in Lille the first weekend of September, you won't miss the Braderie de Lille, the biggest flea market in Europe, with more than two million people bargaining in the streets.

 Place aux oignons, in Vieux-Lille

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Excès et tolérance, bienvenue à Dunkerque, la cité de Jean Bart

With a Dunkirker like Jean Bart, a notorious French privateer from the 17th century, Dunkerque (or Dunkirk in English) had to find a way to be distinct from the rest of the French maritime cities. So get ready to attend this winter the famous Carnaval de Dunkerque, a popular gathering where children and adults meet, parade, and party from January to March! You are not a spectator of the Carnival, everybody is somehow an actor! And please, don't miss the Mayor throwing herrings from the City Hall (it's good luck to catch one!). Dunkerque lies on the coast of the Nordic Sea, only 6.2 mi from the Belgian border and has the third biggest port of France. The city has many other treasures to offer to its visitors like the belfry, classified UNESCO World Heritage Site

Herring throwing at the Dunkerque City Hall during the Carnaval 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Get a glimpse of life on Canoe Island in this short video!

Although we welcome individuals and families at our Open House every year (June 20, 2015 is the next Portes Ouvertes!), we know it's hard to make it all the way out to Canoe Island. And many prospective campers are curious to know what it's like to spend two or three weeks on a tiny island in the San Juans. Get a glimpse of life on Canoe Island in this short video. And stay tuned in the coming months for a longer video about French Camp! Campers from Session 3, 2014, see if you can spot yourself in the video!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Value of Summer Camp - a Video

Most of our CIFC Friends already know the value of camp for children – it teaches them resilience, self-reliance, and self-discipline and the joy of meeting new people and discovering new cultures. But just in case some of you want to now why it is important for every child to experience camp – and why they love it – here is an excellent video by Madeline Levine, adolescent psychologist and speaker at the 2013 Western Association of Independent Camps conference that our camp directors attended. WAIC member camp staff put together this short video of a part of her keynote speech. We really liked it and thought we would share it with our friends. Please use it in any way you want to promote the value of summer camp.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Mars est le mois de la Francophonie

Today is the month pour parler en français! With its 220 millions French speakers around the world, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a francophone fellow. Did you know that French is one of the official languages in more than 30 countries, that French is the second most studied language in the EU, or that 60% of Francophones are under 30 (campers included!). Le 20 mars 2014 est la journée internationale de la francophonie, l’occasion de pratiquer la langue de Molière partout dans le monde en s’amusant et en promouvant la solidarité et la rencontre des cultures! Découvrez quelques mots nouveaux ou insolites à travers ces vidéos.

Le monde francophone session - CIFC 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Discover a Taste of Paris in Seattle!

Some Seattleites wait an entire year to return to Canoe Island French Camp to eat French food, study French, and immerse themselves in French culture.  Others wait a lifetime for a trip to Paris.  For Francophiles in Seattle who are looking for a taste of France a bit closer to home, the shop Paris Eastside in Capitol Hill is a haven. In 2012, native Parisian Muriel-Marguerite Foucher opened the store, which offers cooking classes, imported French food, and Parisian gifts. Muriel-Marguerite owned a cooking school in Paris where she taught Anglophone tourists before relocating to Washington with her family.

Canoe Island Marketing Coordinator Margaret Schafer dropped into the store recently to meet Mme. Foucher. Canoe Island campers might be particularly interested in the cooking classes she offers for children and teenagers: participants make a variety of treats in the one- or two-hour classes, including tartes, mousse, or quiche. Muriel also offers adult classes, where participants master delicacies such as macarons or éclairs. Of her cooking philosophy, Muriel-Marguerite says, “We eat every day so we should learn to do it well,” which is our philosophy on Canoe Island as well. Recently, Muriel published a cookbook on using a microwave to make French culinary classics, which she wrote for her son in college.

For anyone lucky enough to visit the city of lights, Muriel’s company also offers tours of Parisian farmers’ markets, the Jewish quarter, and a private tour of a Parisian candy shop. Of her hometown, Muriel reflects that Paris may have beautiful architecture but Seattle has far more beautiful natural surroundings. She also commends Seattleites on their friendliness! Stop by her shop in Capitol Hill or check out her website or facebook page to learn more. 


Monday, February 24, 2014

Join the celebration on Canoe Island -- 45 years of Summer Fun with a French Accent!

What are your memories of Canoe Island? Sunrise over Mt. Baker, sunsets over the Olympic Mountains? Songs on Inspiration Point? Fondue on the beach and dances in the Chateau?  Maybe even a bus trip to Victoria? Who did you meet on Canoe Island who is still your friend?

Come to Canoe Island this summer to share your memories, meet old and new friends, kayak, sail, swim, hike, do archery and fencing or just relax on one of the most beautiful islands in the world.  We’re celebrating 45 years of Canoe Island French Camp, Dr. Warren Austin’s 1969 vision of a sanctuary where children could learn French and about French culture while having fantastically fun days.  Come for the afternoon/evening Friday including a poolside barbecue or spend the night in a tipi and continue the fun through Saturday.  We’ll even celebrate the summer solstice at a beach campfire.

Daylong Celebration: 2-8 pm Friday June 20
Overnight Celebration: 2 pm Friday - 4 pm Saturday - coincides with Les Portes Ouvertes (Open House) on Saturday

WHEN: Walk on the 12:35 pm ferry at Anacortes and we will meet you with our camp boat on Orcas Island and whisk you to Canoe Island. Enjoy the island, participate in activities, swim in the heated pool, and enjoy a barbecue on the pool deck. Those out for just the day will be taken back to Orcas Island in time to catch the 8:45 pm ferry, arriving back in Anacortes at 9:45 pm. Those staying over Friday night will enjoy daylong activities Saturday before catching the 5:20 pm ferry, arriving in Anacortes at 6:25 pm.


Friday only: $20 per person, $10 ages 3-5, free 2 & under. Includes round trip transportation from the Orcas ferry landing to Canoe Island, an afternoon barbecue and all activities.

Overnight: $80 per person, $40 ages 3-5, free 2 & under. Includes round trip transportation from the Orcas ferry landing to Canoe Island, poolside barbecue, breakfast and lunch on Saturday and all activities. Overnight participants will need to bring a sleeping bag, pillow and towel, and toiletries. Overnight accommodations are limited.

Contact us at info(at)canoeisland.org for more information about the event, transportation options or information on places to stay in the San Juan Islands. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Help Us Build Our New Pool Deck!

Here on Canoe Island we're always looking to improve camp, both by enriching our programming and by up-dating our facilities. This winter and spring we are undertaking the replacement of the pool deck and the last of the old tipi decks.

We have three construction weekends planned and are looking for some generous carpenters who can join us for one or more of them.  We are specifically looking for volunteers with construction skills and those who can carry boards up and down stairs.  These weekends are free of charge, and we will provide meals and transportation from the ferry. You are also welcome to stay longer into the week, if you have the time. 
Ben working on the pool deck.

Friday-Sunday March 7-9              
Friday-Sunday March 28-30        
Friday-Sunday April 18-20       

We can pick you up from the Orcas Island ferry landing either Friday evening or Saturday morning.  We will provide meals and beds, but would appreciate it if you could bring a sleeping bag and a towel.   

If you are interested in helping us, please email info@canoeisland.org with the weekend you prefer, your carpentry skills, name, and home and cell phone number or call us at 360.468.2329.  Check the ferry schedule to pick your arrival and departure times (remember there is a weekday schedule and a weekend schedule on the Winter Schedule and the April weekend will be on the Spring Schedule). 
We look forward to welcoming our 2014 campers with these camp improvements!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Former Counselors Isma and Leïla's New Store!

In 2012, Isma Moulay from Lille, France, joined our team of animateurs to teach tennis and lead our songs with his guitar. He returned in 2013 bringing Leïla Hadjari, also from Lille, to teach fencing and charm everyone with her smile. This past week, Leïla and Isma opened a store together in Halluin, France, called Laine Attitude, a haberdashery and yarn store. Isma and Leïla began to knit when they were working on Canoe Island in 2013. You can check out the store's facebook page or, if you happen to be near Lille, visit their store at 92 rue Gabriel Péri in Halluin. We will miss having them on Canoe Island, but we wish Isma and Leïla all the best in this new adventure together! 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Donate to Canoe Island and receive a Thank You Gift!

This year we have three thank you gifts for your donation of $25 or more. We are excited to release two posters designed by our favorite artist, Program Coordinator Eden Cooke. She has rendered a nostalgic view of a night under the stars on Canoe Island and a whimsical map of Canoe Island. This summer we will have postcards of these two images for campers to send home or to friends. In addition, our second edition of our 50-page cookbook with 26 recipes from chefs Aaron and Amanda and the French Cuisine classes has been reprinted with 2013 photos of staff and campers. 

Any of these thank you gifts are available when you donate at least $25 to either the Canoe Island French Camp Scholarship Fund or Facility Fund. Your donation will help send children who may be unable to pay the full tuition to summer camp and help us improve the infrastructure of Canoe Island to ensure that future generations can enjoy all the beauty the island has to offer. For more information about these thank you gifts, and to fill out a donation form, please visit our website