Much-loved picnic music festival So Frenchy, So Chic, is back in January 2016 for its fifth full Melbourne day of wine, cheese and tunes. We asked festival founder Jean-Francois Ponthieux to talk us through it.
“I think Australia has a love affair with France. So Frenchy brings a slice of it to Australia,” he says. “It’s about the hedonistic pleasure of dancing, drinking and eating with your friends.” The day is about music, picnics in the park and sharing an unpretentious cultural moment.
“France is often seen through a cliché of baguettes and red, white and blue,” Ponthieux says. “It’s like, you know, people thinking that Australia is just Crocodile Dundee and Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert – the culture goes beyond that. We try to showcase a modern version.”
So Frenchy isn’t your standard music festival – there are lots of little things that set it apart. One is Ponthieux’s unique approach to creating a line-up. There’s not really a headliner: instead, the music is programmed like a playlist.
“It’s more about a sequence,” he says. “It’s like if you made a playlist for in the park with your friends – everything suits a certain moment of the day.”
Four acts have been announced so far – chanteuse/it girl Lou Doillon; Hindi Zahra, described as a “North African Patti Smith”; disco-folk duo Brigitte and Balkan-electro punks Soviet Suprem. But there are many more to come. It doesn’t matter if you’re not familiar with these artists yet. Ponthieux explains that his hand-picked performers are well known in France, and each has a specific tone, colour, mood and atmosphere to their music that he believes will resonate with a Melbourne crowd.
“People who come to So Frenchy are willing to discover music. They don’t always know who the line-up is, but they trust the creator,” he says. “I go to France once a year, make sure that their live performance is as strong as their recordings.”
The festival will again take place at Melbourne’s Werribee Mansion. The entire gardens are done up for the day – made oh so French with props such as flowers and wine barrels. It’s all about the combination of a modern French atmosphere with rustic surroundings.
“Werribee is like an enchanted garden,” Ponthieux says, “It has that atmosphere of the French countryside – but then there’s a contrast of modern music and modern French culture.”
But oh non! Werribee? Don’t worry, Ponthieux has your transport covered. He’s organised shuttle buses to leave from both Southern Cross and Geelong stations, that take you straight from the CBD to the park. So you can enjoy your champagne and not worry about traipsing in by train.
There’ll be a range of food stalls announced down the track – with all the French (and previous festival) classics such as crêpes, macarons, eclairs and French wines. This year there’ll also be a cocktail bar in a vintage caravan and a themed Laurent Perrier champagne bar.
Picnics are encouraged – BYO sandwiches, cheese and dessert (just no alchohol – the festival is fully licenced). For those with less-developed culinary skills (it’s a picnic basket, though, come on), hampers are made fresh on the day and available to purchase. Think crusty baguettes, salads and caramelised-apple-and-frangipani tarts for dessert. Or grab yourself a cheese or charcuterie board to snack on. Très Francaise.
“A smile,” says Ponthieux. “Bring a good mood, a desire to party and have a good time – that’s the only thing I require from people.” (We’d also recommend sunscreen, a hat and a picnic rug – see our tips from this year’s festival)
It’ll be a proper French experience, so bring your family and friends (kids under 12 get in free), kick off your shoes, dance on the grass and enjoy the tunes, the food and summer.
So Frenchy So Chic in the Park is at Werribee Park in Melbourne on Sunday January 10, 2016. Early-bird tickets go on sale Wednesday September 23, from $69.
Broadsheet is a proud media partner of So Frenchy So Chic.