Bonjour mon ami! Prêt-à-parler with the FAC

Our friends at Fiddlehead Magazine, a guide to living local in New Hampshire, recently joined us at our monthly Prêt-à-parler, of PAP. Below is the article from their most recent issue (March/April 2019). Further information :

STORY AND PHOTO BY AMI B. CADUGAN Fiddlehead Contributing Writer, Fiddlehead

Parlez-vous Frarnçais? Then you might think of joining Prêt-à-­Parler, a group of Francophones who gather each month to keep their knowledge and love of French vibrant and alive. Pourquoi pas?

Prêt-à-­Parler, which means “ready to talk” in French, is hosted by the Franco­American Centre of Manchester.

According to Executive Director John Tousignant, “We are a very eclectic group of people. Everyone from third­generation West Siders (of Quebecois descent), to school-age French students, toddlers and even recent immigrants from Haiti and the Congo. Anyone who wants to practice speaking French and listen to French being spoken is welcome.”

The group meets the first Tuesday evening of each month at St. Anselm College’s Sullivan Arena, to practice speaking French and to keep their French heritage alive.

“We aim to create ways to have the generations celebrate together,” said Tousignant.
Which is fitting, since the meetings tend to evoke musical chairs. People are constantly moving around a large table in the conference room, chatting, then moving on.

According to Tousignant, an average of 20 different members of various ages attend the meetings each month. At a recent meeting, a teenager was overheard speaking what sounded like fluid French to a founding Franco-American Centre member, Adele Boufford-Baker.

Roughly translated, it went like this:
“Your accent is so beautiful,” said the woman.
The teen replied, in what sounded like a flawless accent, “Merci, Madame.”
“Where did you learn to speak like that?”
“My family and I lived in Paris for three years.”
“C’est bon. And did you enjoy that?” asked Boufford-Baker.
“Oh, yes, very much. I made some great friends and got to travel all throughout Europe. I wouldn’t trade the
experience for anything,” said the teen.

That’s what the group is all about, according to Tousignant.

“Hearing different dialects being spoken is a huge opportunity for students studying French,” he said. “They can get their ears acclimated to a variety of accents. It’s a great way for us to support what they learn in their school environment.”

Prêt-à-­Parler meetings began in the 1990s and Céline Desrosiers has been at the helm for the last four years.

“It’s important to keep our language and culture alive, especially for the younger generation,” said Desrosiers. “So, I like to divide people into smaller groups and find fun ways for them to practice their French. English is discouraged.
“I’ve seen people’s skills improve dramatically, over the course of only a few months. It doesn’t matter if people stay for 25 minutes or for the full hour and a half. It just matters that they come.”

Prêt-à-­Parler is one of many events sponsored by the Franco-American Centre. In March, a month-long celebration of La Francophonie (the international French community) takes place. Festivities planned throughout the Granite State include exhibitions, speakers, films and additional conversation groups.  Gov. Chris Sununu is expected to kick things off, with the raising of the Francophonie flag. Other dignitaries, such as the Québec Delegation and French Consulate from Boston, attend as well.

French contributions to the state of New Hampshire are honored throughout the month. Naturally, there’s plenty of wine and cheese for all.

French-themed happenings continue throughout the year. Highlights include the New Hampshire PoutineFest (June 22); Festival of Saint Jean Baptiste (June); Beaujolais Nouveau Gala (Saturday before Thanksgiving); and the Soirée de Noël/Volunteer Celebration (December).

This summer, they will offer two types of summer camps. One is geared toward children ages 7 to 10, so they can become immersed in French. The other, Camp Bienvenue, is to help French-speaking immigrant children acclimate to American culture and life in Manchester.

French classes for all ages and levels are also offered year-round. If you’re planning a trip to Paris, consider signing up for the “Traveler’s French” course. You’ll learn how to negotiate a taxi from Charles De Gaulle Airport, flawlessly order fromage (cheese), and ask a Parisian for directions to the Eiffel Tower. Oh là là!

While St. Anselm is on summer break, the group mixes things up and meets in local restaurants around Manchester and Bedford. If you overhear the sensual sounds of French being spoken, chime in with a “bonjour.” Expect to receive a warm “bienvenue” in return.

Prêt-à-Parler meets on the first Tuesday of each month from 5:30 to 7 p. m. in the conference room inside Sullivan Arena, at St. Anselm College. Details about upcoming events can be found on the Franco-American Centre’s website at There’s a separate website far the New Hampshire PoutineFest at nhpoutinefest. com

Happy Mardi Gras!!

Mardi Gras is Here!

By: Samuel Ennis

FAC Intern – Saint Anselm College

Mardi Gras is Here!! Did you know that in Louisiana, Mardi Gras is a legal Holiday? In fact, it is the only state in the U.S. to declare it a legal holiday. That does not stop people all around the world, the U.S., and especially New Hampshire from celebrating this French holiday.

Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday has been traced to ancient holidays in Rome and Venice. However, in the 17th and 18th century, it passed to the French House of the Bourbons and quickly spread to French colonies. The holiday, as it is celebrated in the U.S., dates back to 1699, when French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville arrived south of New Orleans in an area today known as Mobile, Alabama. He arrived on the eve of the holiday and prepared a celebration to occur the following day. The holiday was to celebrate the day before Ash Wednesday when Lent would begin. Giving something up for Lent is custom, and it was typical for people to give up rich and fatty foods like meat, eggs, milk, lard, and cheese. Knowing they would be without one of these items for the next 40 days, they had an elaborate celebration full of treats using these items. The holiday grew during the 1700s and 1800s adding masquerade balls, parades, carnivals, grand floats, and the throwing of beads to what many know today. When Louisiana went from French control to territory to U.S. State, the celebration of Mardi Gras defined its identity with people embracing it as a French custom.

For those of you not in New Orleans for the celebration, New England boasts many events as well during the month of March. Magic Hat Brewery in Burlington, VT hosts a festival during the end of March. Countless restaurants and bars in Boston such as Buttermilk and Bourbon host events as well. Rhode Island and Connecticut have their own events. The Franco-American Centre hosted a celebration and masquerade ball on Saturday, March 2, 2019, at Jupiter Hall in Manchester with Cajun food from Madear’s. The night was a blast and a great time to meet other members of the FAC and celebrate the festive holiday.

Be sure to show off your new knowledge of the holiday as you celebrate this March with the official slogan Laissez les bons temps rouler or in English, “let the good times roll.”

Congratulations Tim Beaulieu!


The Franco American Centre congratulates its board member Tim Beaulieu upon his selection for inclusion into the class of Forty under Forty awards for 2019.

“Tim has been a strong member of our board and has been overwhelming successful with the Poutine Fest event that he chairs annually,” said James Normand, President of the FAC.  “Through his strong efforts, Tim  has helped FAC, present French language entertainment events, classes, art venue and many other activities that benefit all of northern New England.  It is fitting that he is appropriately honored for all that he does for New Hampshire.

For more, read Tim’s bio in the Union Leader for more details.


FAC President James Normand (left) recognizes Tim Beaulieu’s contributions
to the FAC at a recent Board of Trustees meeting.

2018 in Review

Click here to download the document readable below
Dec 2018 in review

Letter from the President

Dear members and friends,

As we start 2019, we are celebrating another great year at the Franco-American Centre. From our early beginnings on Concord Street to our new offices at St. Anselm College, we continue to expand our vision and programming to provide a great cultural experience in our region for all.

Last year’s activities continued to build upon our fun and engaging annual events. In addition to the perennial successes of Mardi Gras, the St-Jean-Baptiste and the Beaujolais Nouveau Gala, we were able to build on the success of NH PoutineFest while adding Camp Bienvenue, a new program for immigrant youth. Check out Francophone month coming up in March.

With a talented board, dedicated staff and enthusiastic volunteers, we continue to create opportunities for people to celebrate French language and culture in their homes and in their communities.

Whether as a member, a donor, volunteer or event participant, we hope you will join us as we begin our exciting 29th year. Your involvement and support is valued as our Franco-American history continues.

Please join us at our events this year. You will enjoy them.

I look forward to seeing you soon. Warm regards,

James Normand, President

2018 Year in Review

What a year! The FAC has been quite busy. We’ve hosted over 40 events!  Activities included the monthly Prêt-à-parler (PAP), francophonie month in March, New Hampshire PoutineFest in June, the annual Beaujolais Nouveau Gala in November to everything in between. None of these would have been possible without the 80 plus volunteers who generously donated their time, energy and ideas or the members who have made generous contributions.


The year started with our monthly PAP French conversation gathering. Throughout the year, on the 1st Tuesday of each month, 15 to 20 avid French speakers meet to exchange ideas and even further their knowledge of the French language. All levels and dialects are warmly welcome, no matter the weather.

In February, members and guests spiced things up at our annual Mardi Gras celebration. Guests spanned generations as they danced and feasted on such treats as King cakes.


In March, we celebrated international Francophonie month with a variety of events: Flag raising in Nashua, art exhibits, presentations of French Canadian and Haitian films, lectures and a proclamation in Concord with Governor Sununu. The proclamation was attended by dignitaries from the Quebec delegate and the Consulates general of Canada and France, as well as members, French teachers and students and FAC members and board members.



In April, the FAC partnered with Welcoming Manchester for French Conversation Café to connect recent French immigrants with French speaking community members to enjoy an evening of friendly conversation. We then collaborated with Southern New Hampshire University for a 5K color run to benefit the American Breast Cancer Foundation and the FAC.

In May, we honored the winners of the annual Euclide Gilbert French video contest. This year marked the first time to include a category for college students along the high school category. The 2018 winning videos are currently available by clicking here.



June kicked off our annual Festival d’été with the St-Jean Baptiste celebration. We honored French Teacher of the Year, Edee Takantjas of Belmont High School and Business of the Year, St. Mary’s Bank.  This year’s illustrious Franco-American of the Year was our own Josée Vachon who had toes tapping and everyone smiling as she treated us to a few of her favorite songs.

On June 23rd, the New Hampshire PoutineFest Team, supported by 40 volunteers, welcomed over 1,400 poutine lovers. Although the weather was rainy, spirits were high as festival goers sank their teeth in poutine supplied by 10 participating restaurants. The 2018 champion was the Kettlehead Brewing Company located in Tilton NH. We encourage you to check them out, as well as the other participating restaurants. The list is available at

A quieter July allowed us to regain our collective breath to jump into August at which time we celebrated Acadian Heritage with a family day at Joppa Hill Farm in Bedford. Kids and parents played games, participated in a vocabulary scavenger hunt and enjoyed delicious ice cream donated by Ben & Jerry’s in Manchester. We also said goodbye to staunch friend and supporter of the FAC, Consul General of France, Valéry Freland, as he embarked on the next chapter of his diplomatic career. Although he will be missed, we look forward to forging a new friendship with the new Consul General.

To cap off the Festival d’été, we enjoyed our annual half-way to Mardi Gras. This year, we enjoyed a Bayou vibe & Cajun food at Madear’s Restaurant in Manchester. We filled the space with music, laughter and joie de vivre!


As fall arrived, so did fair season. The FAC participated in several cultural fairs as well as career fairs at local Colleges. We also enjoyed 2 wonderful concerts: Le Choeur en Supplément’Air from Montréal touring in New England and Le Vent du Nord at the Dana Center where FAC members enjoyed St. Anselm Alumni pricing.

The FAC also moved into its new space at the Sullivan Ice Arena. Drop by during our office hours (Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays 9am to 1pm). We’d love see you!

In October we held our first online auction. Thank you to all who donated and bid on items. We are already planning for this year’s. Interested in donating, contact us at

We enjoyed another elegant evening of fine dining and wines at the annual Beaujolais Nouveau Gala. Make sure to mark your calendars for next year’s 10th anniversary! We’ll look forward to seeing you November 23rd, 2019!

Finally, we closed of the year with our annual Soirée de Noël & Volunteer Appreciation party. We enjoyed a lively evening of music and fun to celebrate the season and honor our volunteers without whom none of our activities would be possible.


The FAC is already planning various events for 2019. Some new and some recurring and well loved ones.

Make sure you don’t miss out! Sign up to receive our email notifications. Like and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Visit our website regularly, we’re constantly updating our site.

Have an idea for an event or activity? Email us at, or join us at our Program Committee meetings. Next meetings: January 22nd & February 19th, 2019 at 6pm in the conference room at the Sullivan Ice Arena.

2019 Coming Events:

  • March                         Mardi Gras 
  • March                         Francophonie Month
  • June                            St-Jean Baptiste Celebration
  • June 22nd                 NHPoutineFest
  • June 23rd                  Heritage Baseball Game
  • August                        Halfway to Mardi Gras
  • October                      Pre-Holiday Online Auction Annual
  • November 23rd      Beaujolais Nouveau Gala
  • December                 Soirée de Noël & Volunteer Appreciation

And so much more!

Learn French Today! We offer French language and culture classes for adults and children at all levels of language learning. Click here for details.

Support the Franco-American Centre today!

To become a member or make a tax deductible donation, follow the following links:

Thank you for a most successful 2018.

Here’s to a fabulous 2019!

Message from the FAC President

Members and Friends of the Franco American Centre: 


A lot of good things are happening at the Franco American Centre that I wanted to tell you about.

1990- THE VISION:  The Franco American Center was originally established in early 1990 to further grow the movement to promote the French language, connect with other organizations and provide a resource for individuals doing research in the former ACA (Association Canado-Américain) Insurance library that was housed with the FAC. At that time, the FAC also acquired the former ACA Insurance building on Concord Street in Manchester.

2018- EXPANDING THE VISION: After the ACA closed, a group of benefactors, organized by Mr. Bob Raiche, stepped forward to purchase the valuable ACA library and art work to preserve for posterity in the United States. The FAC subsequently entered into a compact with St. Anselm College and the former ACA artwork and library were transferred to the St. Anselm Library where it is housed today. Through the benevolence of Dick Lavaliere, St. Anselm has been working with a curator to catalog and assess the value of the library and art work.  The priceless collection is recognized worldwide by researchers for its scholarly value.

THE FAC TODAY: In recent years, we have sold the ACA building to a religious organization and relocated to St. Anselm.  As part of our compact with St. Anselm, we have an office in the Sullivan Ice Arena with plenty of nearby parking. Come visit us!

Our operating budget is funded by our ongoing programming revenues including class tuition, sustaining or annual memberships, grants including one from Quebec, and ANNUAL donations from people like you. We do a lot with a lean budget.




James Normand, President         

Joseph Theriault, Vice President            

Joanne Martin Craighead, Secretary

Doris Ballard, Treasurer                       


John Tousignant, Executive Director

Nathalie Hirte, Administrator, part time


I can report that I am very impressed with the high caliber of our current Officers, Directors and staff.   John P. Tousignant brings a lot of talent, energy and experience to the Centre. John is bilingual and is doing a wonderful job expanding our base.  Please check out our web site to peruse the bios of our Directors. You will be impressed as I am.

STAY IN TOUCH: Watch the web site, subscribe to receive emails, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for information on exciting events throughout the year, including Mardi Gras party, PoutineFest, Halfway to Mardi Gras party, the French-speaking camp for children, the new immigrant French-speaking program, monthly free Prêt-à-Parler discussions, our annual fancy Beaujolais Nouveau dinner with wine pairings and much more. December 15th join us for our annual Soirée de Noël and Volunteer Appreciation event. To reserve your space, contact Nathalie ( or reserve your spot online by clicking here.


  1. Some of you have been with this great organization for several years. Some of you from the very beginning. Reach out to give us How can we improve?
  2. Perhaps volunteer to help with an Find a new volunteer for us. Suggest an individual for the board of incorporators or directors.
  3. Send us a year end donation and enjoy the warm feeling of pride that you are contributing to the safeguard, celebration and education of the Franco-American culture and heritage. Click here to go to the donation page.
  4. Check us out online and on social media, call us at the Franco-American Centre (603 641 7114) or contact us at any of the emails listed above or at

I look forward to rekindling friendships, making new ones and to help this great team to continue to make you proud of the Centre that you either helped to found or move along its path.

Please follow through with a donation and/or feedback. Sincerely,






James Normand President


Culture Classes

French Through Music Part 1 ~ Le français en musique – Partie 1   (5 weeks) – Do you love music?  Do you love French?  In 5 weeks, you can take a journey through French popular music from the 20th and 21st centuries.  From the classics like Edith Piaf and Charles Trenet through modern French popular music and musical theater, this class covers French vocabulary, grammar and culture through a musical lens.

Part 1 cover 5 stand alone classes at the intermediate level.

Teacher: Daniel McDonald
Class Time:Wednesdays, 6 PM to 8 PM
Dates: September 26th to October 24th, 2018  

Cost: $150 for Members                                 $185 for Non-members



St. Jean Baptiste’s holiday: What you need to know

On Saturday, June 16th, the St. Anthony Community Center in Manchester was alive with the sights, sounds, and flavors of French Canadian language and culture as the Franco-American Centre (FAC) gathered to feast and honor Franco-American influencers for their annual Festival of Saint Jean Baptiste, the national holiday of French Canadians in Quebec and around the world.

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Introducing Claude and Claudette!

As many Franco-American events are coming closer… We have a surprise for you!

Give a warm “bonjour!” to the Franco American Center’s mascots… Claude and Claudette!
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Joyeuse Saint Valentin! (Happy Valentine’s Day)

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love in all of its many forms whether that’s the love of friends, family, or even a significant other.
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Amazon Smile: How you can help!

Amazon, the online shopping powerhouse, is known for its online shopping, as well as it’s relatively fast delivery service, Amazon Prime.

Yet, even with the well known delivery time, the company took their current reputation up with their latest idea: Amazon Smile… just in time for Black Friday and other holidays!

Amazon Smile is an edition of Amazon, though there’s a catch– Amazon Smile will donate 0.5% of an individuals purchase to a public charity of your choice! Amazon Smile can be used with an existing Amazon account, lists such as  Wish lists, wedding or baby registries, and other settings will remain the same and aren’t affected.
When making a purchase, if opting to donate, a person may pick between a list of registered charities who accept Amazon Smile.

One charity that is accepting donations is… the Franco-American Centre!

Any further information wanted on Amazon Smile can be found at:


Beaujolais Nouveau

Beaujolais Nouveau is a holiday that involves heavy advertising, along with an intense race to grab the latest bottle from around the world.

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Halloween in France and Belgium

October 31st: the time of year where children dress up in costumes, going out with friends, or parents, around the neighborhood knocking on doors and receiving a trick…. Or a treat! Halloween is a unique holiday, where kids, and adults, get to enjoy something sweet while spending time together in amusing or silly costumes alike. Read the rest of this entry »

Mardi Gras, a history

L’histoire du Mardi Gras

By: Alexandre Curran – intern and guest blogger

(English version below)
L’histoire du Mardi Gras est antérieure à l’église catholique par des centaines d’années. Il y a deux fêtes romaines anciennes que les historiens ont actuellement tracé l’origine du Mardi Gras à, Saturnalia et Lupercalia (History Channel, 2010). La fête des Saturnales a été célébrée du 17 décembre au 23 décembre du calendrier julien (environ du 30 décembre au 5 janvier du calendrier grégorien). Pendant ce temps, un prêtre fera un sacrifice au dieu Saturne au Temple de Saturne. Après le sacrifice, un banquet public a eu lieu au Forum romain, suivi d’une célébration de cadeaux en privé, de fête et d’un carnaval-renversement sur les normes sociétales romaines, où le jeu est maintenant permis et les maîtres devraient fournir Services de table pour leurs esclaves.

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Merci et au Revoir

We at the FAC are very lucky to have amazing interns who work with us.  We strive to create a rich, creative and fun work environment for them and all of our volunteers.  Below is a post from one of our most recent interns, Rebecca Leboeuf, currently a sophomore at SNHU.  Thank you Rebecca!


Merci et au Revoir

By Rebecca LeBoeuf rebeccaleboeuf

My internship experience at the Franco-American Centre (FAC) meant more to me than 150 hours worth of work that translated to three credits towards my degree. It was an entirely new experience for me and an opportunity for me to utilize what I have learned in the classroom in the real world.

I have just completed my sophomore year at Southern New Hampshire University where I am pursuing a communication degree with a double minor in graphic design and professional writing. The Communication Internship at the FAC was my first internship, and one that I will always remember.

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French Adventures: The class that’s always on a field trip!

submitted by FAC Special Events Coordinator Jo-Ann Belanger

Jo-Ann Bélanger has an MSEd and is a 23 year career French teacher. She is a dedicated FAC joannbelangervolunteer who currently heads our French Adventures classes and organizes trips and other special events for members and guests.



French Adventures is literally an adventure in learning. Each month participants of all ages join together at different locations around the state to learn a few words in French and tour an area learning something new. The goal of this class is to whet the appetites of folks who want to learn a few words in French but not commit to an actual class. Then, all have the option of taking a full class with one our amazing instructors in our language program. There is no enrollment fee and each class is “pay as you go”. Discounted rates apply for FAC members and families.


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