Living la vie en rose
Tomorrow is Bastille Day, marking the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille in 1789, and it's the perfect excuse for finding some ooh-la-la right here in Boston
``A sous is a sous" goes the old French adage on thriftiness. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow, Brasserie Jo has free (yes, free) chocolate crepes to-go, prepared on the restaurant's Huntington Avenue sidewalk patio. Also, the splendid brasserie's set lunch and dinner tomorrow is just $17.89 (get it?). Start with a seafood misto of clams, oyster, shrimp, and Jonah crab claw. Follow with steak frites and then fabulous profiteroles with chocolate sauce poured at the table, leaving you to decide just how much of a good thing you want. At the Colonnade Hotel, 120 Huntington Ave., Boston. 617-424-7000.
On Saturday , Cambridge's Lizard Lounge hosts Shaun & Suzi's 13th-annual Bastille Day A-Go-Go. This revue, led by Shaun Wolf Wortis's and Suzi Lee's all-star band, will include traditional New Orleans R&B and guest singers such as Ad Frank, who'll bust out some Jacques Brel, and Reverend Glasseye's Adam F. crooning a la Serge Gainsbourg. Doors are at 9 p.m.; cover is $10. 1667 Mass. Ave., Cambridge. 617-547-0759. www.lizardloungeclub.com
As Concord painter Abigail May Alcott Nieriker is quoted as saying in the Museum of Fine Arts' summer exhibition, ``Americans in Paris, 1860-1900," the French ``live so entirely in theaters, the cafes, and on the boulevards." That side of life is revealed in decadent detail in the exhibit's evocative paintings of belle époque party people, including John Singer Sargent's infamous ``Madame X." Today , between 4 and 5 p.m., the MFA's Thursday free-ticket giveaways (valid all this month) kick off with servings of a ``Madame X" cake for those waiting in line. 465 Huntington Ave., Boston. 617-267-9300. www.mfa.org
For some risqué ``Moulin Rouge" flavor, drop by Pigalle tomorrow, when bar manager Micaela Grossman puts down her shaker and pours her adopted Gallic soul into some edgy Edith Piaf-esque chansons. The chic French restaurant, named for Paris' red-light district, will also feature a lavish Bastille Day-themed three-course prix-fixe menu ($50 per person). 75 Charles St. South, Boston. 617-423-4944. www.pigalleboston.com
Meanwhile, an accordion player will perform at Sel de la Terre's annual celebration, which features a four-course menu ($48 per person), with dishes such as assiette de charcuterie à la Robespierre and vichyssoise glacée de Monsieur Danton playfully named for French revolutionary icons. 255 State St., Boston. 617-720-1300. www.seldelaterre.com
Of course, the French take food very seriously. In France, Bastille Day is a national holiday filled with family picnics, much like the Fourth of July is here. Les Zygomates starts off its prix fixe ($65 per person) with a picnic basket packed with wine, paté, assorted French cheeses, and a baguette. Guests then choose merguez frites, steak frites, or truite aux almandine, and end with dessert. 129 South St., Boston. 617-542-5108. www.winebar.com
Sandrine's has a special three-course prix-fixe menu tomorrow ($25) that ends with a gorgeous gâteau Saint Honoré, a traditional French cake named for Saint Honoré, the patron saint of patissieres. 8 Holyoke St., Cambridge. 617-497-5300. www.sandrines.com
After all that wonderful food, do what the French do: stroll. Pick up a copy of Rhea Hollis Atwood's book ``Boston's French Secrets" (Hidden Heritage Travel Guide), which includes guided walks tracing the city's French history and famous French residents: Messieurs Bowdoin, Revere, Faneuil, and LaFayette.