From Paris to Pittsburgh

Madame Butler’s French classes spent the day at the theater for a unique cultural experience.


Olivia Shubak

The theater fills as teens and teachers grab their popcorn and settle into their seats.

Olivia Shubak, Staff Writer

With the sweet aroma of warm loaves of bread and pastries wafting in the air and the lilting sound of the French language, students may have questioned whether they were swept off to the streets of Paris. North Allegheny French students’ recent field trip experience provided a piece of French culture right here in the city.

The field trip was offered to junior and senior French students as well as GOAL students who wished to participate in the outing. Just after 2nd period, NASH French teacher Madame Butler and the group of students departed to the movie theater for the first part of their exciting day. 

The event was sponsored by Film Pittsburgh’s “Teen Screen,” which allows students from schools around Pittsburgh to experience the cinema for free. 

Upon arrival and settling in, students learned about the sponsors that made the screening possible.

The film was Coeurs vaillants, which translates to “valiant hearts” and depicts a group of Jewish children on their journey to freedom during the Holocaust assisted by an art conservator. 

As expected, the dialogue was spoken entirely in French, but with subtitles, of course.

“It was definitely helpful for improving my understanding [of French], and I even picked up some of the phrases during the movie,” said junior Jake Callen.

The immersive language undoubtedly challenged students’ listening comprehension and their knowledge of common speech.

“I thought the movie was really interesting,” said Madame Butler. “The main character, Rose, was a real person during the occupation, who was in charge of making sure that art that belonged to France stayed in France, but I thought it was a neat twist to add the fiction story.”

As Madame explained, the film combined both factual elements and a fictitious story to portray the reality of an exceptionally bleak time in history. 

“I think it’s important to see movies that talk about history, especially for students in our language classes where we don’t get to talk about those things in class, and I’m glad that we have the opportunity to see movies and explore places outside of the classroom,” she added.

As Madame mentioned, the movie touched upon the erasure of Jewish art and culture by the Nazis, which is often forgotten among the other horrors that Jews endured during the Holocaust.

After the movie, there was a discussion led by a sponsor where students were encouraged to participate and share their thoughts on the movie. 

Then, once all students were accounted for, the bus left for Lawrenceville to pick up an order of lunches. As part of the experience, students had the option of packing their lunch or placing an order at La Gourmandine, an authentic French bakery, prior to the field trip.  

The bus made a quick stop at La Gourmandine bakery in Lawrenceville.

La Gourmandine roughly translates to “the glutton” or “the food lover,” which accurately represents how students felt after tasting the array of baguette sandwiches and baked goods they ordered.

“I had a lot of fun on the French field trip, and I thought it was really cool that we also got to eat some delicious food from a French bakery,” reflected junior Mely Moreno. “The movie was = educational. It was a good opportunity to learn,” she said. 

This cultural excursion certainly imitated an authentic exposure to French culture. Although the experience of the French field trip is difficult to top, students in French classes have a Mardi Gras celebration to look forward to in the near future.