French Club visits Pittsburgh for a cultural culinary experience

Pittsburgh, known to many as the Steel City, also happens to be the cultural hub of western Pennsylvania.

Students in Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s French Club will indulge in just a slice of the diverse opportunities Pittsburgh has to offer when they visit two of the cities’ most Parisian establishments, Paris 66 and Gaby et Jules, on their Saturday field trip.

The French Club is a growing, student-run organization dedicated to bringing out the Francophile in all its members by hosting French conversation nights, cultural activities and language tutoring.

With its meetings held in Wallwork Hall every Tuesday from 8-9 p.m., the French Club is also open to students from all disciplines.

Shelby Ledger (senior, Spanish education), president of both the French and Spanish clubs, explained that the club chose to visit these specific restaurants for their authenticity.

“We chose to pursue the field trip for students to get a real ‘taste’ of French culture,” Ledger said. “We are making the most out of our trip by enabling students from the IUP community to try a variety of authentic foods in a short amount of time.”

Paris 66, voted “Best French Restaurant” by Pittsburgh Magazine, is an ambient bistro located in East Liberty and the first stop on the French Club’s trip.

The restaurant’s website lists “house-made quiche, soups, croques, savory buckwheat galettes and sweet crepes” as its “signature dishes” and notes its dedication to local ingredients and generations-old family recipes.

Gaby et Jules, a quaint Squirrel Hill bakery, will finish the French Club’s field trip to the City of Bridges.

Students on the trip will also receive a unique opportunity to meet French chef David Piquard, chef at Paris 66 and head pastry chef at Gaby et Jules.

A native of France, Piquard has been operating in Pittsburgh since 2011. The chef specializes in the delicate macaron, a meringue-based confection that resembles a more highly sophisticated, more skillfully crafted and infinitely more flavorful version of a whoopie pie.

Gaby et Jules offers many flavors of the classic French dessert, ranging from classics like vanilla and chocolate to seasonal tastes of white chocolate peppermint to signature concoctions like white chocolate basil and nougatine honey.

Although the French Club will be traveling about 60 miles to Pittsburgh for its culinary experience, current students and residents of Indiana need look no further than 29 N Eighth St. for their own taste of Europe’s third largest country.

“The Six Hand Bakery is an authentic and delicious option that is located near Philadelphia Street,” Ledger said. “We hope to host one of our French Club meetings at the bakery in the spring semester.”

For those interested in learning more about IUP’s French Club, contact Ledger at s.e.ledger@iup.edu.