Philadelphia and the Countryside - Press Room

Releases: Expanded View

Dec 4 2014

Calling All Francophiles: Just Say "Oui" To Philadelphia

Visitors Can Celebrate The Philadelphia Museum Of Art’s Discovering the Impressionists Exhibit By Exploring The City’s Many French Connections

When the Discovering the Impressionists: Paul Durand-Ruel and the New Painting exhibition opens on June 24, 2015 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (the only American venue for the show), Philadelphia will continue its ongoing love affair with all things French. The summer blockbuster, which runs through September 13, 2015, showcases approximately 95 works by impressionist masters the influential Parisian art dealer championed, including Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley, Degas and Manet. From there, visitors in town for the show can explore the region’s many French cultural, gastronomic, architectural and fashion influences, starting with the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, planned and designed by two Frenchmen to look like Paris’s Champs-Élysées.

Louvre-worthy Art:

  • Located on the culturally rich Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the newly relocated Barnes Foundation allows the world’s largest collections of impressionist, Post-impressionist and early Modern paintings and African sculpture to be viewed as intended. The museum is home to the largest collection of Renoir works (181) in the world and boasts plenty of Cézanne (69) and Matisse (59) works as well. Reservations are highly suggested. 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 278-7000,
  • The La Salle University Art Museum features an impressive number of 18th-, 19th- and 20th-century French paintings—both portraits and landscapes—from artists such as Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Eugène Fromentin and Labert Gleizes. La Salle is the only university in the Philadelphia area to own a permanent display of paintings, drawings and sculptures from the Renaissance to the present. 1900 W. Olney Avenue, (215) 951-1221,
  • Besides hosting Discovering the Impressionists in summer 2015, the iconic Philadelphia Museum of Art counts significant works by French masters among its more than 227,000-piece collection, from lush paintings by Renoir and Matisse to Monet’s many scenes set in the French countryside. French decorative arts also appear among the works. 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 763-8100,
  • One of the greatest collections of Rodin’s work outside of Paris—including sculptures, studies, books, drawings and prints—the Rodin Museum was recently restored to its original vision, and many of the sculptures have been returned to their intended places in the museum’s exquisite French garden. 2151 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 763-8100,
  • Housed in an 1860s townhouse on Rittenhouse Square, The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia’s collection of rare books and letters includes copper miniatures painted by French artists and significant holdings in French literature. Visitors can marvel at everything from an illuminated manuscript of Guillaume de Deguilleville’s Trois pélerinages (1437) to manuscripts by Emile Zola and Anatole France. 2008-2010 Delancey Place, (215) 732-1600,

Bon Appétit: Restaurants, Cafes & Pastry Shops:

  • A la Maison, an Old World-style bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) bistro in suburban Philadelphia, focuses on French comfort food, including boeuf bourguignon, seafood bouillabaisse and crepes. 53 W. Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, (484) 412-8009,
  • Northern Liberties’ chic wine bar/cafe Bardot plays up its French stylings with French beers and cocktails named for its namesake’s films (Contempt: gin, Lillet, grapefruit and St. Germain). The food follows suit with dishes such as steak tartare, rabbit crepes and eggs en cocotte. 447 Poplar Street, (267) 639-4761,
  • Chef Peter Woolsey, who studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and his wife Peggy, who hails from Dijon, preside over the charming and authentic Bistrot La Minette. Try the mustard-braised rabbit for dinner and Tarte Tatin for dessert. 623 S. 6th Street, (215) 925-8000,
  • A contemporary brasserie set in the Fringe Arts building, Woolsey’s second offering La Peg boasts industrial-chic glamour and an unparalleled view of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, along with earthy plates of salmon over lentils, wine-braised rabbit and steak frites. 140 N. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 375-7744,
  • Part of Philadelphia’s neo-French restaurant revival, the upscale eatery Townsend deftly transforms classics into haute cuisine: beef tartare with shaved Idiazabal; foie gras mousse with pear-ginger marmalade; and lamb en cocotte with grapes, plums and pears. 1623 E. Passyunk Avenue, (267) 639-3203,
  • Just a few doors down, the BYOB Laurel takes a decidedly lighter tack. Top Chef winner Nicholas Elmi filters French cooking through an American spectrum. Only the chef’s tasting menu is available on weekends, but the weekday a la carte options might include duck breast with salsify, parsnip and huckleberry; seared foie gras with quince and brioche; or caramelized white chocolate pudding with elderberry and cranberry. 1617 E. Passyunk Avenue, (215) 271-8299,
  • Chef Pierre Calmels, the brilliant mind behind Bella Vista BYOB Bibou, brings a pedigree that includes stints at New York’s Daniel and Philadelphia’s Le Bec-Fin. While the entire menu shines with sumptuous French-inspired gems like bone marrow and foie gras, the seven-course chef’s tasting menu is not to be missed. 1009 S. 8th Street, (215) 965-8290,
  • Calmels’ newer venture Le Chéri serves as a Center City outpost, with lunch and dinner options (vol-au-vent with guinea hen in lobster cream sauce; delicate fish ravioli; veal “roulade” with green cauliflower), complemented by the elegant Art Alliance building’s ambiance and a full menu of French and Swiss wines. 215 S. 18th Street, (215) 546-7700,
  • Giving the neighborhood wine bar a decidedly fresh read, The Good King Tavern adds a rustic French dimension. Count on socca with ratatouille, pan bagnat sandwiches and brioche bread pudding with crème anglaise and lavender ice cream. 614 S. 7th Street, (215) 625-3700,
  • The original French fast food is the mainstay at So Crêpe, a Graduate Hospital cafe with inventive combinations (So Chevre with honey and walnuts; So Cocotte with braised chicken; So Washington with caramelized apple and vanilla ice cream). 1506 South Street, (267) 761-9310,
  • Owned by Raphael de Bussy, a native of France, and his wife Linda, suburban spot Bakers on Broad serves up more than a dozen types of artisan breads, along with pastries, pies, tarts and more. 503 E. Broad Street, Souderton, (215) 703-0518,
  • Beau Monde serves up sweet and savory Breton crepes at its charming Queen Village Beaux Arts-style bistro. Patrons can head upstairs to L’Etage for dancing, music and cocktails. 624 S. 6th Street, (215) 592-0656,
  • With its spectacular views of the Schuylkill River, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, University City and the Cira Centre, Bistro St. Tropez offers a warm, South-of-Paris vibe and a recreation of classic dishes from chef/owner Patrice Rames’ childhood home in Provence. 2400 Market Street, 4th floor, (215) 569-9269,
  • Chef Olivier Desaintmartin, a native of the Champagne region of France, heads up the cozy Caribou Café, specializing in French comfort food like onion soup and steak frites flammenküche. The menu, which draws influence from the regions of Burgundy, Brittany and Lyon, changes seasonally. 1126 Walnut Street, (215) 625-9535,
  • From its name, which means pig in French, to its authentic menu of bistro specialties, including escargot and pork belly, Cochon is a family-owned BYOB that’s a French favorite. 801 E. Passyunk Avenue, (215) 923-7675,
  • BYOB spot La Crêperie Café serves up sweet and savory crepes for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. French specialties like quiche Lorraine, salade niçoise and crème brulée round out the mouthwatering menu. 1722 Sansom Street, (215) 564-6460,
  • A French bakery across from the train station in Narberth, Le Petit Mitron serves the best croissants, pastries and tortes this side of the Left Bank. In true French fashion, this eatery is closed for the entire month of August. 207 Haverford Avenue, Narberth, (484) 562-0500,
  • Gourmet desserts, sophisticated sweets and artisan chocolates line the cases at Miel Patisserie. Patrons can indulge in everything from chocolate-covered caramels to decadent Marjolaine, a cake layered with flavors like chocolate, vanilla, praline, hazelnut and almond. 204 S. 17th Street, (215) 731-9191,
  • Providing a unique marriage of delicious cultural influences, chef-owner Adán Saavedra fuses classical French cooking technique with flavors from his native Mexico at Paloma. The result is a menu of elevated Mexican cuisine prepared using high-quality ingredients and delivered with stunning presentation. 763 S. 8th Street, (215) 928-9500,
  • Parc, prolific restaurateur Stephen Starr’s ode to the bustling French brasserie, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Enjoy the likes of duck confit, bouillabaisse and trout amandine indoors, or, when weather permits, on the cafe sidewalk overlooking Rittenhouse Square. Don’t miss the profiteroles for dessert. 227 S. 18th Street, (215) 545-2262,
  • A welcome addition to Philadelphia’s craft beer and cocktails movement, Paris Wine Bar serves up local, Pennsylvania-produced wines in a charming setting that is distinctly French. In addition to a rotating selection of “draught” wines, the menu features French-inspired dishes created by Chef Michael McNally. 2303 Fairmount Avenue, (215) 978-4545,
  • Nobody can argue with the elemental comfort of a great roast chicken and Petit Rôti banks on exactly that premise. The new rotisserie from Olivier St. Martin (Caribou Café; Zinc) offers chicken meals with sides; simple sandwiches; a deli counter of pâtes and charcuterie; and a pantry of gourmet jams, mustards and more. 248 S. 11th Street, (267) 457-5447,
  • Rouge, the first bistro on Rittenhouse Square and in the entire city for that matter, offers sidewalk seating and an intimate, sexy vibe that draws a fiercely loyal regular crowd. While chef Sam Noh cooks up an American menu with Asian influences, the ambiance is unmistakably French. 205 S. 18th Street, (215) 732-6622,
  • Originally a historic inn dating back to 1763, Savona features Chef Andrew Masciangelo’s inspired cuisine, capturing the culinary spirit of the French Riviera and focusing on the use of local and seasonal ingredients. Plus, there are more than 1,000 wines on the restaurant’s extensive list. 100 Old Gulph Road, Gulph Mills, (610) 520-1200,
  • Tucked away in Conshohocken, Spring Mill Café serves French Provençal specialties like boeuf bourguignon and rabbit stew, along with a hefty side of charm and romance. 164 Barren Hill Road, Conshohocken, (610) 828-2550,
  • Chefs Todd Braley and Daniela D’Ambrosio met while working at The Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia and went on to open The Pickled Heron, a delightful, French-inspired bistro in Fishtown. The friendly spot cooks up unique dishes like crispy duck cutlet, and the décor showcases the work of a different local artist each month. 2218 Frankford Avenue, (215) 634-5666,
  • Romantic New French eatery Zinc specializes in seafood from chef/owner Olivier Desaintmartin. Locals love the restaurant for its intimate vibe, creative cuisine and sexy bar. 246. S. 11th Street, (215) 351-9901,

Trés Chic: Shops & Spas:

  • Shoppers looking for French, Art Nouveau and Art Deco relics head to the Architectural Antiques Exchange, a 30,000-square-foot warehouse stocked with pieces dating from the 1700s through the 1930s. The inventory here includes an ever-evolving selection of reclaimed décor from historic churches, castles, mansions and restaurants. 715 N. 2nd Street, (215) 922-3669,
  • The Calderwood Gallery attracts an international clientele for its French Art Deco (1910-50) furniture. The gallery boasts works by Ruhlmann, Arbus, Leleu, Dominique, Jallot, Dufrene, Follot, Subes and others from that pivotal design period. 631 N. Broad Street, (215) 546-5357,
  • Laura DiFrancesco stocks Contessa’s French Linens, a stall in the always-packed Reading Terminal Market, with French jacquards and coated tablecloths. 12th & Arch Streets, (610) 306-4507,
  • Haverford’s Hope Chest recently expanded into Center City and sells elegant underthings from French brands such as Simon Perele and Le Mystère that make modern women feel sexy and sophisticated. 379 W. Lancaster Avenue, Haverford, (610) 665-9169; 1937 Chestnut Street, (215) 665-9169,
  • Shoppers at Kellijane can buy just what they need to create a sensual bedroom sanctuary, a dazzling table setting or a sumptuous bathroom with imported French linens, bedding and tablecloths, bright with the colors of the south of France. 1721 Spruce Street, (215) 790-0233,
  • People find an intriguing collection of original Art Nouveau and Fin de Siècle posters, fine French crystal jewelry and scented candles from Rigaud Paris at Lisa M. Reisman et Cie. 1714 Rittenhouse Square, (215) 735-2781,
  • Rescue Spa Philadelphia is inspired by the philosophies of skincare expert Danuta Mieloch, who studied in Paris under innovator Dr. Yvan Allouche, creator of Biologique Recherche products. This European-style day spa bills itself as the exclusive Philadelphia outlet for French skincare lines such as Biologique Recherche and Institut Esthederm. 1601 Walnut Street, 3rd floor, (215) 772-2766,
  • The chic Third Street Habit boutique offers fashions by Isabel Marant, a French contemporary women’s line that has a cult following and is hard to find this side of Paris. 153 N. 3rd Street, (215) 925-5455,

Fabulous Façades: Architecture:

  • Paul Philippe Cret (1876-1945), an émigré from Lyon, planned the Benjamin Franklin Parkway lined with statuary, trees and museums, while French landscape architect Jacques Greber (1882-1962) designed it. Constructed from 1917 until the 1930s, much of the Ben Franklin Parkway was modeled after Paris’s Champs-Élysées, creating a grand boulevard that once overlapped with several gritty neighborhoods.
  • Landmarks Tours offers guided walking tours highlighting noteworthy buildings and architecture styles. Beaux-Arts and Art Deco tours show off gems like the flamboyant WCAU Building, now home to the Art Institute of Philadelphia, and the intimate residences along Rittenhouse Square. Tour locations vary. (215) 925-2251,
  • A hallmark of the French Second Empire-style, City Hall includes design features of the Louvre and the Parisian Palais des Tuileries. Visitors can tour City Hall Monday through Friday at 12:30 p.m. Broad Street & John F. Kennedy Boulevard, (215) 686-2840,
  • Just off the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Free Library of Philadelphia and the Family Court building near Logan Circle are reminiscent of the twin palaces on the Place de la Concorde in Paris. The Kimpton hotel chain is developing a property on the site of the now-defunct Family Court. 1901 Vine Street, (215) 686-5322,
  • Although originally a wild tangle of trees and brush, Rittenhouse Square was gradually fine tuned by French-born architect Paul Philippe Cret in 1913. The central plaza of the park holds the dramatic Lion Crushing a Serpent by French sculptor Antoine-Louis Barye. Originally created in 1832 as an allegory of the French Revolution, with the power of good (the lion) conquering evil (the serpent), this bronze cast dates back to 1890. Today, the square is the centerpiece of an inviting neighborhood filled with a mixture of brownstones, offices, shops, hotels, restaurants and cultural institutions. Between Walnut & Locust Streets and 18th & 20th Streets

Bonjour, Bonsoir: Hotels:

  • Originally a YMCA, the chic Le Méridien Philadelphia from Starwood’s European-inspired brand is home to Amuse, a brasserie and bar featuring lusty French fare such as escargots, frisee aux lardons and onion soup gratinee. Diners with a sweet tooth can indulge in the peanut butter mousse. 1421 Arch Street, (215) 422-8200,
  • The luxury AAA Five Diamond Rittenhouse Hotel overlooking Rittenhouse Square includes Lacroix at the Rittenhouse, an elegant international restaurant with park views. The impressionist-themed Mary Cassatt Tearoom and Garden, a tranquil setting once painted by the Philadelphia-born French-inspired painter, offers the perfect atmosphere to relax over afternoon tea. 210 W. Rittenhouse Square, (215) 546-9000,
  • The Philadelphia outpost of the French-owned Sofitel Philadelphia blends French elegance with American amenities and convenience. The hotel’s restaurant Chez Colette is a charming brasserie serving French cuisine in a 1920s-style atmosphere, and Liberté Urban Chic Lounge is a stylish lobby bar for meeting friends and colleagues. 120 S. 17th Street, (215) 569-8300,

VISIT PHILADELPHIA®, formerly known as Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, makes Philadelphia and The Countryside® a premier destination through marketing and image building that increases the number of visitors, the number of nights they stay and the number of things they do in the five-county area.

On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, and, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.

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