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Bastille Day celebrated in style with classic French flair

Enjoying the French cuisine are, from left, Jane McGowan of Chifley, Lena Britton of Deakin, Roger Camilleri of Chifley and Garth Britton of Deakin.

Enjoying the French cuisine are, from left, Jane McGowan of Chifley, Lena Britton of Deakin, Roger Camilleri of Chifley and Garth Britton of Deakin. Photo: Graham Tidy

Tucked away in a 19th century cottage in Bungendore, a full house celebrated Bastille Day at Le Tres Bon restaurant on Sunday.

The day of French national celebration marking the 1789 storming of the Bastille and subsequent revolution was celebrated with Champagne and chef Christophe Gregoire singing the national anthem La Marseillaise.

"You know James Cook discovered Australia, but La Perouse came one week after James Cook - so in one week, it could be French, this territory. I'm so upset with La Perouse actually," Gregoire joked as he prepared creme brulees.

It was a classic set menu for the day, offering accessible cuisine of French onion soup and slow-cooked Burgundy-style beef cheeks, washed down with an entirely French wine list for the special occasion. While there were no snails in sight, escargot is still a staple on their regular menu.

"We haven't taken them off the menu for 13 years, and if we do there'd be uproar," his wife Josephine said. "There'd be a revolution!"

Since moving to Bungendore from their Manuka restaurant seven years ago, the Gregoires have attracted guests from throughout the region and as far as Sydney for their cuisine and cooking school.

"We're trying to imitate the little restaurant in a typical French village, so Bungendore is [such a] typical Australian village," Josephine said.

"It brings us closer to produce and makes us more in touch with the seasons, which is a very French concept."

With a grey winter's day outside, diners settled in among the warmth of the cosy restaurant and hearty food. Among them was Claus Hannekum from Sydney, a tiny blue lapel pin revealing his place on the French National Order of Merit for his work establishing regular French news programming in Australia with SBS.

Canberra couple Lena and Garth Britton came with friends Jane McGowan and Roger Camilleri. "We used to live in Paris, so it's for old time's sake," Mr Britton said.

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